Hispanic community rallies for immigration reform in Avon

Lauren Glendenning
Vail correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Matt Zalaznick Vail DailyFriday's vigil was a response to the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

AVON, Colorado – Hundreds of local Hispanics gathered in Avon Friday night to show their support for immigration reform in the United States and for legislation that would help them achieve their goals.

The vigil was a response to the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. The bill, which had more than 70 co-sponsors, would make the America’s immigration policy “pro-family, pro-jobs and pro-security,” said Gutierrez in a statement Tuesday.

Gutierrez’s bill seeks to legalize undocumented immigrants by requiring them to register with the federal government, pay a $500 fine for each adult, learn English, pass background checks and meet other requirements. They then are eligible for a six-year visa and when that is done a green card.

It contains numerous other proposals.

Eagle County Hispanics were one group among many in Colorado hosting similar rallies Friday. Arturo Orduno, a leader of the Hispanic Movement of Eagle County, a group that formed six months ago, said everyone has to support the bill together or it won’t pass.

“It’s very important for the solidarity of the [immigrant community’s] union,” Orduno said.

Orduno helped form the Hispanic Movement of Eagle County for that very reason – to bring people together to make their voices heard.

“Everybody loves living in this county,” he said. “It’s a big dream for everybody.”

Orduno’s group has continued to grow since it began with just six members – now, he said, there are about 350.

“It’s very important for those of us living here to work together,” Orduno said.

Julien Ross, from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, said the statewide rallies had two main messages – to show the love that immigrants have for this country and to call for immigration reform.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition issued a statement Friday that said immigrant workers are critical to Colorado’s ski industry, the second largest industry in the state. They work in construction, food services and hotels and are “the backbone of the ski industry,” the statement said.

Anya Martinez, a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School, was at the rally on behalf of education reform. She said she wants an opportunity to go to college and gain citizenship, which is why she supports the Dream Act, a bill in Congress that would allow undocumented immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools a chance to earn permanent residency if they continue going to school.

“I really want the Dream Act – I want to keep my studies going,” Anya said.

Similar rallies were held throughout the mountains and Colorado, in Dillon, Glenwood Springs, Telluride, Denver, Grand Junction, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, among other places.

The Hispanic Movement of Eagle County meets every two weeks at Berry Creek Middle School. Contact Orduno at 970-471-3315 for more information.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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