Immigration Debate Kindles New Civil Rights Movement

Senator Wayne Allard had a “closed meeting” on August 30 about illegal immigration in Aurora. The meeting was “open” for a couple of hundred attendees and a number of state and local government witnesses that were called to testify before Allard on the cost of immigration, including Gov. Bill Owens. But, no one was allowed to speak in defense of undocumented workers and the contributions they make in the economy, according to immigration advocates. That sparked a protest against the hearing with advocates saying their voices were shut out.One of the protesters was Debbie Marquez, a supporter of the immigration advocates movement and a Democratic National Committee representative from the Colorado. “This protest was not about immigration rights. It was about human rights and civil rights” Marquez stressed. “Immigrants are not terrorists or invaders,” she noted, “they are people looking for a better life for their families.”

Marquez believes that an immigration advocate movement is beginning to evolve into something very similar to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Although there is no organized attempt to become a political force in the 2006 election, she hopes that people and organizations sympathetic to the immigration plight will continue to protest against prejudicial political actions.

“Right now it’s politically expedient for the Republicans to use undocumented workers as scapegoats when there are a lot more important issues to solve,” Marquez said.

As reported in the Denver Post, other immigration advocate protesters shared Marquez’s views:

“This system is a tragedy, and people are suffering,” said Lisa Duran, executive director of Rights for All People. “The people who are putting on these political dog and pony shows are not trying to solve the problem.”

Marquez was surprised of the antics from the handful of “big, tall and loud white males” she felt who were trying to intimidate protesters and to possibly instigate police interaction. From Marquez’s viewpoint, the counter-protesting “goons” were unsuccessful.

“As the TV cameras rolled, they got right into Lisa’s face shouting horrible things to provoke a physical reaction from her and a number of police came out ready to jump in,” Marquez remarked. “The TV camera lenses were inches from exchange, but Lisa ignored the trap.”

Allard’s office denied any immigrant advocate group asking to take part in the hearing approached them. Plus, Allard officials claimed it was airport access, not politics that determined the hearing location in Aurora, a city in the hotly contested 7th CD.