200 march in Greeley for immigration reform | VailDaily.com

200 march in Greeley for immigration reform

Associated Press Writer

GREELEY, Colorado ” About 200 people from across Colorado marched on the streets of downtown on Saturday to call for immigration reform that would include the legalization of undocumented workers.

Holding signs that read “Stop the Raids and the Oppression” and “Legalization Now,” the people marched to the county’s courthouse in a city where rally organizers say the Latino community is under attack by authorities.

Greeley was the site of a federal raid at a meatpacking plant in late 2006, where 261 suspected undocumented workers were detained, and the district attorney has tried to pursue identity theft charges against dozens of others.

“The day has come for the people waiting for us at the courthouse, the ones who call us undocumented and other names, to find out that unity exists,” Alonzo Barron Ortiz, one of the organizers, said to the crowd in Spanish before the march.

The marchers, many of them Latino, began walking from Island Grove Park downtown as a Spanish song from a popular Mexican music group Los Tigres del Norte began to play, with the lyrics, “We’re more American than the sons of the Anglo-Saxons.”

A handful of people at the courthouse met the marchers with signs that read “No Amnesty” and “American Jobs Are For Americans,” but there was no tension between the two groups.

The afternoon march came a day after thousands attended similar immigration rallies nationwide. Organizers of the Greeley march said they scheduled their event on the weekend so people wouldn’t have to miss work, given the tough economy.

“Why do we want immigration reform? So that there’s an end to the raids and families aren’t separated,” said Jose Lopez, a 43-year-old Greeley resident who works at a dairy.

People in Aztec clothing, with 4-foot-long headdresses of purple, red and orange feathers, led the march with the rhythm of constant drums mingled with the shouts and rattles of marchers shaking soda cans filled rocks.

When they arrived at the courthouse, there was a moment of silence to remember undocumented immigrants who have been arrested and are “being treated like criminals,” Ortiz said.

Organizers said the march in Greeley was timely because dozens of suspected undocumented immigrants are waiting for a resolution to cases in which the district attorney charged them with identity theft last year, alleging they were filing taxes using false or stolen identities. County judges have since ruled tax records are confidential and that authorities were wrong to seize them, but District Attorney Ken Buck is appealing.

“We see the national problem of immigration reflected locally in Greeley. Greeley is the microcosm,” said Ortiz, an organizer with the immigrant advocacy group, Al Frente de Lucha, which means “At the Front of the Fight.”

Frank Gibson, a 75-year-old retired preacher from Fort Collins, was among those marching Saturday.

“Well, I think it was Martin Luther King Jr., who said humanity is indivisible, right? And we’re not made to raise walls against each other. We’re here to embrace each other,” he said.

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