Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 1st Rally

The May 1st Committee
Convenes a Celebration
of International Labor Day

As immigrant workers we want to recognize and celebrate this day by having a festival to promote unity and tolerance. For this reason we insist on the following to create more unity and tolerance:
      • NO to the expansion of the detention center in Aurora
      • NO more racial profiling by the police and state Patrol
      • NO more Deportations
      • YES to documents and a path to citizenship for all
We invite the public to come
SHARE their poems, music and reflections at our open mic
HEAR music and speeches
SEE traditional indigenous dance

Date: Thursday, May 1st

Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm

Location: Fletcher Plaza, 9898 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
(Colfax and Elmira, In Front of Martin Luther King)

Flyer from the May 1st Committee

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

DHS Rule Negatively Impacts All Workers

These comments were sent to the Department of Homeland Security on April 25th, 2008

Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, a project of the Colorado office of the American Friends Service Committee, submits these comments in opposition to the supplemental proposed rule that reissues the rule on Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter.

The mission of Coloradans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR) is to create a welcoming climate for all members of our community, to advocate for humane immigration policies and to eliminate unjust immigration practices. We build broad support for immigrant justice by educating and organizing citizens in support of immigrant rights. Many CFIR members have the privilege of citizenship; therefore, we believe it is our responsibility to take guidance from immigrant based groups, and to reach out to other citizens with a pro-immigrant message. We believe diverse pro-immigrant voices grow and strengthen the movement for immigrant justice.

Because of the SSA no-match letters, our staff and members have already received calls reporting increased fear and confusion as employees and employers struggle to understand the policy. Additionally, due to the current anti-immigrant climate, many citizens of Latino descent in Colorado have reported racial profiling across a number of areas. Reissuing this rule can only make it worse.

Relying on a flawed database to solve our nation’s immigration issues is a mistake. Rather the DHS should pursue worksite policies which would enable employers to help their workers adjust their immigration status. It would not only be a more productive and humane, it would recognize the enormous contributions immigrant workers make daily to our nation’s economy.

Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, joins the national American Friends Service Committee office in strongly opposing the Department of Homeland Security’s reissuance, without any substantive change, of the Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter. The rule does not address the issues raised by the court. It has resulted in the firing of lawfully authorized workers. The proposed changes are not substantive, thus the rule will continue to undermine labor rights thereby causing a detrimental impact on all workers. Additionally, the rule will further overburden the Social Security Administration. Finally, the rule will be costly to workers and to our nation’s economy. At a time of crisis in our nation’s economy, we should be creating policies that strengthen our workforce and communities and that recognize the contributions that all workers make regardless of their status.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rep. Curry Threatened After Standing up for Decency: Write or Call to Thank Her

After Rep. Bruce made repeated disparaging remarks about immigrants, Rep Curry asked him to address the bill in front of the House, HB1325. Rep. Bruce continued his anti-immigrant rhetoric and was gaveled down (not allowed to speak further) by Rep. Curry. (Details from the Denver Business Journal)

Today, Rep. Curry is under increased protection from the State patrol after receiving numerous calls and mail threatening her. (from the Grand Junction Sentinel)

Send a letter, email or phone call to Representative Curry to:
  1. Thank her and let her know you support her decision to uphold standards of decency and decorum on the House floor.
  2. That while we oppose the bill, if she has decided to vote for the HB1325, then we are counting on her to vote for worker protections amendments in Committee.

HB 1325 is a bill which would create a Colorado specific guestworker program. Many anti-immigrant bills were passed last year during a special session of the house including SB90, which encourages the police to act as immigration agents, and HB1310 which specifically denies State services to those who cannot prove legal residency. These bills sent a message. The message was received by migrant workers who decided Colorado wasn't worth it and didn't come to work.

As a consequence, we are now in our second season of leaving crops to rot in the fields due to labor shortages. For farmers this has been painful and prompted them to pressure the legislature for action. The farmers have not been able to get the necessary workers through the flawed federal H-2A VISA program, so they are asking for our own program in Colorado.

Guestworker programs are historically problematic and exploitative. This bill still represents a guestworker program and has the potential to be equally so. Now the Bill is heading to Committee where the House and Senate will hash out their different versions. There are several amendments on the table which would increase worker protections and make the bill less exploitative, at least on paper.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our Alamosa Brother’s & Sisters Need your help!

“While the Red Cross and State Emergency Management set up water distribution sites, SLVIRC found that much of the immigrant community did not use the official sites out of fear of interaction with uniformed police.”

To support SLVIRC's efforts to distribute safe drinking water to the immigrant community,please send monetary donations to:

"Familia Fund"
c/o SLV Immigrant Resource Center

P.O. Box 1534
Alamosa, CO 81101

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition member organization, the San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center (SLVIRC), is in need of monetary donations to support ongoing efforts to supply safe drinking water & emergency information to the immigrant community in Alamosa and the surrounding area following the contamination of the city's water supply.


San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center
The San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center (SLVIRC) is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 1987 with the mission to connect and empower immigrants with resources to achieve legal documentation, fulfill their economic needs, and integrate into the community. SLVIRC is the only recognized immigration service provider accredited by the Bureau of Immigration Affairs in the region.

SLVIRC is one of the founding member organizations of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and works very closely with the Guatemalan Association of Alamosa and the Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative.

Alamosa Water Crisis
On March 18, 2008, the city of Alamosa confirmed that the city's water supply was contaminated and tested positive for Salmonella. On March 19, the city issued a notice informing residents that the city water was unsafe to drink and began distributing bottled water. Alamosa anticipates that city residents will not have water usage, other than to flush their toilets, through the first week of April.

While the Red Cross and State Emergency Management set up water distribution sites, SLVIRC found that much of the immigrant community did not use the official sites out of fear of interaction with uniformed police. This reaction could be a result of both the increased local and state enforcement of immigration laws in Colorado, as well as, the highly publicized tragedy in San Diego in 2007 where immigrants escaping the wild fires were detained and deported by Immigration Customs Enforcement.

SLVIRC responded quickly to the crisis by distributing emergency information to the Spanish-speaking immigrant community and setting up its own water pick-up site at the SLVIRC office. SLVIRC began distributing approximately 250 gallons per day to the immigrant community beginning on March 21st. The Mormon Church, and the Alamosa police department have provided the water being distributed. On March 27th, SLVIRC was recognized by the CO Emergency Division as a distribution site and received bottled water.

The Center is currently providing information to the immigrant community through KRZA radio station and through written and oral communication in Spanish and Qanjobal (indigenous language of Guatemala).

In order to adequately respond to the emergency situation, SLVIRC office will remain open 7 days a week instead of 5 days for the next three weeks. SLVIRC has had to increase staff time significantly to cover the crisis. Your emergency financial support will cover additional staff time, printing materials, and communications efforts for the two-month period beginning March 18th through May 18th.

To support, please send monetary donations to:

"Familia Fund" c/o SLV Immigrant Resource Center
Attention: Flora Archuleta, Executive Director
P.O. Box 1534, Alamosa, CO 81101

Or for any questions please contact Flora Archuleta, SLVIRC Executive Director, at or 719-587-3225, ext. 11

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ICE Intimidates Student Activist: Donate Here

I have faith…

I have faith that God will help us through this test…

I have faith in people.

This is my story…

On July 26, 2006, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) came to my home and detained my parents and sisters. My family came to the United States 15 years ago. Over the course of those 15 years we have become integrated in this community, we have paid our taxes, and have tried several times to legalize our status.

When I graduated from high school, one of my goals was to go to college. I knew that an education would give me the freedom I so long for. I knew that an education was a human right. However, because I was an undocumented student this meant I was not eligible for this right. Did this mean that because I was undocumented I was not worthy enough to be considered a human being?

I fought for my right to a college education and successfully was admitted to Miami Dade College in the fall of 2003. But that was not the outcome for many others, and I knew that I had to fight for this injustice. I knew that MLK was right when he said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

I began to fight for educational rights. I fought for immigrant students rights. I stood up and spoke out. I marched along thousands of people. I humbly testified and shared my story with many people in hopes that I would be able to kindle their hearts and change their minds. I prayed to the Almighty God on my knees, and I asked for a change.

I have endured the burden of this responsibility for almost two years. ICE officers told my family to thank me for what was happening to them. ICE officers told my parents to reprimand me for what I was doing. ICE officers threatened me and asked me to stay quiet. And yesterday the herald wrote U.S. Immigration Judge Carey Holliday had refused to hear their arguments.

Pacheco "freely chose to draw unwanted attention to herself and her family," he wrote in a March 18 response. "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones."That runs through my head every single day, and like a dagger those words cut through my chest and stab my heart.

My family has been extremely supportive of my cause. My father has told me several times he is proud of me. He brings me up when I am down. He has been the wind beneath my wings. My mom says that I inherited from her the fighter in me. I love my family, and I also love this country! I know that justice and love will prevail in the end. I know this because one of the ICE officers said to my mom, “Why are you crying? Don’t you believe in God?” He comforted her, he was humane, and he showed her love.

I believe in the power of change. I believe in the power we have to make a difference and do good. One day I had to give a speech around September 11. I remember hearing someone talk about the tragedy that took place that day. And I remember thinking if 16 people were able to cause such a horrific thing, imagine what 16 people can do for something good. It really takes one person to make a difference.

Time for a change is of essence in this case. My family will appear in front of an immigration court judge this Monday, April 14, 2008. I don’t know what the outcome of this appearance will be. We’ve been put in a very uncomfortable situation because we are uncertain of the future. My family has to be ready to ask for voluntary departure in order to avoid being detained in a detention center. We need to present passports, airline tickets, bonds, and other fees, and we are reaching out to our friends and family for help. Unfortunately, we are really short on the money, and today I ask for your help. I have set aside my pride and feelings of shame because I really need your help.

I am dying inside because I feel my family is being snatched away from me. Even though I am 23 years old, I still need my mom. I have been terribly sick these past few weeks, and she has been the one that has spoon-fed me the medicine, has made special food to make me feel better, and has sat down by my side to caress me and soothe my pain away. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like losing a parent forever. My peace rests in that, even though they are deporting my family, I am still going to be able to hear my mom’s voice and my dad’s encouragements through a telephone.

Thank you for reading this letter, and thank you for your support! If you feel it in your heart that you are able to help my family, please let me know. We need to have everything turned in to the lawyers by this Friday, April 11th.

Thank you once again, and God bless you,
Gaby Pacheco
Please feel free to pass along!


Maria Pacheco
13380 SW 2nd Terrace
Miami, FL 33184

Chipotle:Burrito with a Serving of Exploitation

On April 2nd, Coloradans for Immigrant Rights joined in a March and protest in downtown Denver.

What were we protesting? The conditions under which Chipotle's tomatoes are picked.

Link to audio

The conditions under which those who pick our tomatoes are heartbreaking and unjust. There are no holidays, sick days, retirement or other benefits. There is not even an attempt at paying the minimum wage. The workers are asking for one more cent per bucket of tomatoes picked.

photo courtesy of Jobs With Justice, Denver

McDonalds and Yum Brands both agreed over the last five years to pass along the extra cent to workers. Chipotle and Burger King are the only fast food giants left who refuse to support the workers.

Chipotle's slogan is that it is "Food with Integrity". You be the judge.
To take action:

For More Information:

Update on the Detention Center

The protest on Wednesday was amazing. Diverse community members came out and showed that they don't want private prisons in their back yard. Miriam Pena from CPC was the master of ceremonies. Emily Parkey from RAP spoke and Reverend Demmer gave the main speech.

Reverend Demmer highlighted the fact that the private prison group, GEO, doesn't have a contract with Immigration Control and Enforcement nor the Department of Corrections for building this facility. He spoke of how the facility could be used as a private prison or as immigration detention. Most importantly, he urged us to think about the morality of profiting off of others pain and suffering. There is a role for government in areas of the common good. Prisons are one such area. He spoke of how a multi-national corporation can build something like this with no contract and no predictor for use or need, simply because they are a corporation. He compared the plan to build this prison to the Field of Dreams; "If you build it, they will come". The problem with private prisons is that their business is to profit from imprisoning people. Rehabilitation would cut into their profits.

After the protest, we all went into the Planning Commission hearing. Testimony was heard both for and against the detention center/prison. The Planning Commission is an appointed judicial body and they are only allowed to consider testimony concerning 11 criteria, most of which were related to architecture and neighborhood impact.

One of the criteria is the relationship of any new building to Aurora's comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan cites Aurora's diversity and inclusion of the immigrant population as part of its values and goals. The Planning Commission did not accept the perspective of our testimony that this detention center works against those goals.

The Planning Commission did hear our complaints about the small waiting area. The size of the waiting area and the limit on the number of children allowed into visitation, have made for long waits outside the building for many families of those being detained. The new facility will not have any larger of a visitation area. The architect promised to work with the Commission to answer those complaints. The Planning Commission also followed up on questions about adequate natural light inside the detention center. The Commission unanimously approved the building plans for the center.

This was just one step in the process to prevent the construction of this center. Stay tuned for further meetings and actions over the next months as we continue to work with our allies for social justice!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Protest Detention Center Expansion


Contacts: Chandra Russo, CIRC, (303)893-1500; Miram Peña, CPC, (303) 866-0908

Immigrants Rights Groups join with neighbors, former employees of the GEO Group and faith leaders to oppose construction

WHAT: Protest to oppose private detention center and ask Aurora Planning Commission to vote against construction

WHY: The GEO Group, a billion dollar corporation, wants to build an 1,100-bed immigrant holding facility in Aurora. A coalition of immigrant rights groups, criminal justice reform advocates, faith leaders, Aurora residents and business owners oppose this proposed construction for a variety of reasons:
· Detention destroys families and communities
· Detention hurts asylum seekers and other victims of torture and trauma
· Conditions in detention are atrocious
· Private prisons profit off of misery

WHEN: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - 5:15pm: Press Conference and Protest
6:00pm: Planning Commission Hearing

WHERE: Aurora Municipal Center
15151 E. Alameda Parkway; Aurora, CO
Press conference and protest outside; Hearing in Council Chambers

· Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
· Colorado Progressive Coalition
· Rights for All People
· Loretta Perry-Wilborne, ex-employee of the GEO facility in Aurora
· Rev. Patrick Demmer, Graham Memorial Community Church

For more info check out these previous blog posts:
Detention to Expand
Reflections on Aurora Detention Center