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MORE THAN 800 GATHER FOR TOGETHER COLORADO PUBLIC MEETING IN SUPPORT OF IMMIGRANT STUDENTS AND FAMILIES

Human Dignity & Just Immigration Reform

February 10, 2013

MORE THAN 800 GATHER FOR TOGETHER COLORADO PUBLIC MEETING IN SUPPORT OF IMMIGRANT STUDENTS AND FAMILIES
Together Colorado leaders tell Sen. Bennet and Representatives Polis and Coffman they want roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans that is not contingent on proof of secure borders

Denver, CO – Together Colorado (PICO affiliate) held a public meeting in support of immigrant students and families on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. at St. Therese Catholic Church in Aurora, CO. Together Colorado leaders told Senator Michael Bennet (D) and Representatives Jared Polis (D) and Mike Coffman (R) why they want a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans and urged them to act now.

More than 800 faith and community leaders filled the pews at St. Therese Catholic Church in Aurora for a standing room only public meeting on Sunday with Bennet, Polis, and Coffman. Together Colorado leaders provided a reflection, prayer, research, gave emotional testimonies of being separate from family, and asked Bennet, Polis, and Coffman if they would commit to a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens that is not contingent upon proof of secure borders.

"More than 1.5 million people have been deported in the last 4 years; that's more deportations than under the previous 4 presidents combined," explained Mike Whitbeck, a leader with Together Colorado and member of St. Pius Catholic Church in Aurora. "Our families and our communities have been ripped apart and deportations have increased at an alarming rate . . . We too have our principles rooted in our faith traditions that call us to 'do justice' and our experience of millions of broken families and entire communities shrouded in fear that leads us to proclaim that citizenship has to come before any more enforcement."

Fabian Dominguez, a leader with Together Colorado and himself an aspiring citizen asked Bennet, Polis and Coffman, “Will you support legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens that is not contingent upon proof of secure borders?”

Polis received enthusiastic cheers and applause when he committed to support legislation that creates a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million that is not contingent upon definitive proof of secure borders. "Together Colorado would like to thank Rep. Polis' commitment to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens," said Fabian Dominguez, a leader with Together Colorado and aspiring citizen.

Bennet said that he had seen the effects of a broken immigration system and this is why he joined a bipartisan group called the Gang of Eight. Additionally, Bennet stated that the bipartisan principles of the Gang of Eight do link a pathway to citizenship with proof of secure borders. Bennet explained, "but there is acknowledgement that there has been a lot of work done over the last 4 years and a lot of it has resulted in deportations and strengthening of the border. We are not starting from ground zero." He encouraged the faith and community leaders to continue to work to be heard because this is neither the beginning nor the end and there would be bumps in the road. Moreover, Bennet committed to making sure that this pathway to citizenship is a real pathway and to be careful because "there are people in this Congress who would live with the system that creates a perpetual underclass . . .that would never give citizenship... we cannot allow that to happen to this country."

Dominguez asserted that Together Colorado would continue to work with him on a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people that is not contingent upon proof of secure borders.

Coffman, who's in the past sponsored anti-immigrant legislation, said that his position on immigration reform was shifting and expressed support for citizenship for Dreamers but said that we "haven't resolved the question about a pathway to citizenship for adults who've overstayed their visa or crossed the border illegally." He wants to let undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children earn citizenship if they serve in the military. He would not commit to a pathway to citizenship for 11 million that is not contingent upon proof of secure borders, but he is open to continuing the dialogue and did agree to meet with leaders of Together Colorado.

"Today we kicked off our Campaign for Citizenship and though we did not get a 'yes' from Senator Bennet and Representative Coffman, we are appreciative that we can continue to have these conversations with each of them. We are extremely grateful for the support from Representative Polis," said Dominguez.

Following the interchange with the three federal legislators, Monsignor Bernie Schmitz, in representation of Archbishop Aquila of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, addressed the still-packed church asserting the Catholic Church’s clear support of the immigrants in our communities and the need for a clear pathway to citizenship.

Together Colorado leaders, Paz Mendez, of St. Pius Catholic Church, and Sharon Bridgeforth, from Zion Baptist in Denver, gave a call to action reminding everyone that there is much work to be done to pass legislation for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million that is not contingent upon proof of secure borders.

The interfaith gathering was closed with a Muslim prayer in Arabic and English.

 

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Together Colorado is a non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization that unlocks the power of people to transform their communities through community organizing Together Colorado a member of the PICO National Network, the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations.

Together Colorado and PICO are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. Together Colorado and PICO urge people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.togethercolorado.org and www.piconetwork.org.

PICO’s Campaign for Citizenship: Through the Campaign for Citizenship PICO and our 62 faith-based member organizations will be organizing to make sure that Members of Congress from both parties and the President follow through on the long-delayed promise of full citizenship for all. We will be sending a clear message when it comes to immigration reform, full citizenship is the Litmus Test for Latino voters and all people of faith.