‘We just want to work’ | VailDaily.com

‘We just want to work’

ASPEN – “Anna,” an illegal immigrant from Mexico with four young children, said she is looking forward to making a statement Monday in a national day of protest for Latinos on immigration issues.”We are not criminals. We are contributing to the USA,” said the woman, who didn’t want her real name used for fear it could create problems with immigration officials.Five other adult Latina students in the English as a Second Language class that Anna attended also expressed eagerness to participate in the rally and voice support for amnesty for themselves and others.”We are not criminals. We just want to work,” said “Lucy,” another student in the class.As long as illegal immigrants haven’t broken laws while in the U.S., they should be allowed to stay, Lucy said. The law-abiding immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries “deserve to be here,” she said. Organizers are encouraging immigrants to show their clout Monday by staying home from work and school. Organizers also don’t want the immigrants to spend money.In interviews, Latinos in the Aspen area said they generally feel welcome and secure. They said they will not buy gas Monday. They will not shop for groceries or make trips to Wal-Mart. Those with kids appeared divided on whether to let them join the boycott by staying out of school.Anna said it is important for her young school-aged kids to remain in classes so they could learn. As a housewife, she will participate in the rally by not spending any money that day. However, her husband will go to work. They cannot afford a day off with six mouths to feed.Maria, a housekeeper at an Aspen hotel, acquired her citizenship recently – about five years after applying. Even though she is in the country legally, she plans to participate in Monday’s protest as a sign of solidarity for friends and family in the U.S. illegally.”We’re trying to make them realize how much they need us,” Maria said. “We’re good citizens.One woman acknowledged it was tough adjusting to the changes in language, culture and climate. It was especially hard to leave family members behind, “Ida” said.”I cry one year and cry every day for families,” she said with a slight smile.But the advantages of life here are too great for them to return to Mexico, they said. They have good jobs that pay well. They also feel safer in Aspen than in Arizona or California, said Maria, who didn’t use her last name because disclosure could compromise her fellow workers.The housekeepers said they won’t come to work on Monday after clearing it with their boss.”It just sends a message,” the hotel manager said. “Maybe people will have a greater appreciation of their contributions.”

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