Latino Activists “Forging the Future”

Former State Senator Polly Bacca lamented about conditions a number of undocumented workers face. “Some are no better than slaves on a plantation,” she said.

On Sunday, a large group of Latino activists and officials and others wanting change in state immigration policies and legislation met in Denver for the Colorado Latino/a Policy Issue Briefing and Advocacy Day. The theme was “Colorado Latinos Forging the Future”Key immigration issues were discussed by Latino dignitaries such as Denver City Council member Rick Garcia, State Rep. Edward Casso, and Juan Carlos Mendoza Sanchez, acting Consul General of Mexico in Denver.

“We must take action, mobilize in the street, conduct hunger strikes, write letters and make phone calls to make change,” Baca told the group.

The four main issues included:
1. Immigration reform
2. Healthcare
3. Education
4. Economic justice and civil rights

The U.S. is the world’ super power yet we have a human rights crisis at the border,” Julien Ross from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said. “Over 400 people have died in 2006 trying to cross-that’s a tragedy.”

“It’s wrong when our country is saying to Mexican immigrants: “If you can survive crossing the border, we’ll reward you by giving you a job,” House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said to conference participants.

“Congress has dumped the debate to the states,” Romanoff noted, “Colorado has passed and defeated more immigration bills than any other government in the country.”

Recent state immigration legislation has left employers and non-profit organizations confused about the laws. Rep. Casso agreed that HB 1023 made Colorado repressive and disenfranchised Anglos as well as Hispanics from health care. He insisted it was time for a comprehensive federal law. “We need to guarantee basic rights like education and medical treatment,” Casso said.

On Monday, activists will be meeting with legislators at the State Capitol.

Watch for more on “Forging the Future” coverage on Colorado Confidential.

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