Eagle County commissioners voice support for local immigrants
EAGLE — Lalo Montoya and his family arrived in the United States from Mexico, but he stressed that his experience as an immigrant doesn’t isolate him from American society.
In fact, he notes, being an immigrant is a quintessential part of the American experience.
“Whether you came here last year or 100 years ago, you have an immigration heritage,” Montoya said. “Nearly everyone in America has an immigration story.”
The month of June is the time to share those tales during National Immigrant Heritage Month. The commemoration is part of the national welcome.us public awareness campaign launched back in 2014. Montoya is a Denver-based associate organizer with the campaign, which has expanded its scope to include a new mission titled “I Stand with Immigrants.”
This week, that’s what the Eagle County Board of Commissioners decided to do.
“Immigrants have been here since the very early days of Eagle County,” said Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry during a discussion Tuesday. “We are all immigrants at one point or another.”
Immigrant support resolution.
On Tuesday, the county commissioners adopted a resolution in support of Eagle County immigrants.
“This resolution raises awareness of the important role that immigrants play in our community,” said Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney. She noted that after a contentious election season, where the topic of immigration was a hot-button subject, it is an important time for local officials to talk about the vital role that immigrants play in Colorado’s resort economy.
The county’s resolution laid out that argument by noting:
• In the state of Colorado, there are more than 500,000 immigrant residents.
• There are more than 53,000 immigrants residing in Colorado’s Congressional District 2, who pay an approximate $475 million in taxes and hold a spending power of $1.5 billion, and more than 44,276 immigrants residing in Colorado’s Congressional District 3, who pay an approximate $250 million in taxes and hold a spending power of $800 million.
• Eagle County saw an increase in ethnic diversity during the last census, and persons of Hispanic origin now make up more than 30 percent of the county’s total permanent resident population.
• Eagle County is home to two ski areas and tourism is the backbone of the local economy. The ski industry is reliant on H-1B and H-2B visas to fill pertinent jobs.
• There are nearly 18,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in Colorado and a substantial number of DACA recipients in Eagle County who are legally working and studying with authorization from the government.
Don’t rescind DACA
The county resolution also notes DACA recipients arrived in the United States as children and did not have a choice in the matter.
“DACA recipients should not have to face significant barriers to a productive life; and they deserve the right to dream of a bright future in this country,” the county resolution states.
Because the national dialogue includes discussion of rescinding DACA, the county commissioners wanted to strongly state their position that families should be kept together and members should not live in fear of being separated from their loved ones.
As their resolution reads, the county commissioners asserted, “Eagle County stands by the educational, economic and community investments that the people of Eagle County have made in these young immigrants and their families. … The Board of County Commissioners of Eagle County stands opposed to any federal action that would rescind DACA or result in additional restrictions that would act as barriers to the continued contributions of these young immigrants and their families.”
While Eagle County’s action this week doesn’t include an action plan, it nevertheless sends an important message, according to Montoya.
“The impact of local governments showing their support is to keep us coming together as Americans,” Montoya said. “It doesn’t make us less American, it makes us more American by recognizing and honoring our heritage.”
The inclusive nature of the I Stand with Immigrants is also a call to action.
“We ask everyone to go offline and support this initiative in their communities,” Montoya said.
More information, visit http://www.iamanimmigrant.com.
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