Coloradans rally for immigrant-friendly reform bill |

Coloradans rally for immigrant-friendly reform bill

Hundreds of demonstrators across Colorado urged Congress on Monday to grant legal status to some illegal immigrants and protect their families from being broken up by deportations.In Beaver Creek, Grand Junction, Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs, marchers chanted and carried signs saying “We’re workers, not criminals” and “No immigrants, no America.” Some waved U.S. flags; one speaker draped a Mexican flag around her shoulders.Legalization would prevent exploitation of illegal immigrants and raise minimum wages for all workers, said James Johnson, political director for the Service Employees International Union Local 105, which organized some of the rallies.”Our hope is that the rallies will get the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform to provide secure borders, and by providing secure borders, it allows for portals for immigration into this country,” said Johnson, who attended the rally in Grand Junction.Similar rallies drew tens of thousands of people in dozens of cities around the country.Rep. Tom Tancredo, a vocal advocate of cracking down on illegal immigration, said the demonstrators were trying to “demonize” those who favor secure borders.”Today’s rallies show how entrenched the illegal alien lobby has become over the last several years,” said Tancredo, R-Colo.”The iron triangle of illegal employers, foreign governments and groups like La Raza puts tremendous pressure on our elected officials to violate the desires of law-abiding Americans and to grant amnesty,” he said in a written statement.In Boulder, University of Colorado senior Jazmin Chavez told the crowd, “You all who came over on the Mayflower broke laws, too.””We are all immigrants,” she said, the Mexican flag wrapped around her.At Civic Center Park near the state Capitol in Denver, a crowd of mainly high school students listened to mostly Spanish-language speeches and chanted “Si se puede,” or “Yes, we can,” the motto of farm labor organizer Cesar Chavez.Many said they heard about the rally at school by word of mouth or telephone text messages.”We’ve got to stand up for what’s right because this country is made up of immigrants,” said Jose Juan Munoz, 14, a student at West Middle School in the eastern suburb of Aurora.Munoz said he walked the 10 miles from his school to the park.In Colorado Springs, demonstrators chanted “Legalization” and “We are workers, not delinquents,” The Gazette reported on its Web site.A candlelight vigil was planned later Monday in Denver in honor of immigrants who have died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.Johnson said the rallies were having an impact, because the Senate came close to passing a bill more palatable to immigrant advocates after a harsher version passed the House.”The Senate actually started to listen to the voices of the people in the communities,” he said. Vail, Colorado

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