Community rallies around Summit County activist facing deportation
On Friday, moments after Trump announced a deal with Congress to reopen the government amid ongoing talks for border wall funding, an immigration drama was playing out more than 1,700 miles away here in Summit County.
Community members from around the county gathered at the Summit County Library in Silverthorne to chants of “Sí se puede!” as they called for support in their fight to keep Javier Dominguez in the country.
Dominguez, a Mexican native and resident of Summit County for the last 25 years, is currently facing deportation back to Mexico due to a number of run-ins with the law including a domestic violence incident in 2012 and a DUI in 2015 (the Summit Daily was unable to obtain court records on the cases before print deadline). But community members are rallying behind Dominguez and his family, hoping that he will be granted a stay of deportation so that he can remain in the United States with his wife and four children.
“Javier made some mistakes that got him in trouble,” said Brendan Greene, campaign director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “But he was dealing with a lot of pain at that time. I’ve known him since 2009, and he’s gotten really active in the community and created a new page in his life.
“The immigration system tends to punish people twice. If you have committed a crime you can pay your time, but the immigration system never forgets. If the system is meant to rehabilitate and bring people back into society, then people should be given a second shot. Javier has earned that, and proven that everybody can turn the page, grow and become amazing leaders in their community if they’re given that opportunity for redemption.”
Dominguez came to Summit County in 1994 after a friend in Mexico told him about Colorado and the snow. Attracted to the diversity of people, along with the weather and the mountains, Dominguez decided to bring his family to Colorado to start a new life.
Dominguez said he’s held numerous odd jobs during his time in the United States — including as a handyman, construction worker and cook — but that his real work comes as a leader for the immigrant community in Summit County. He currently serves as the head of the organization Unidos por la Igualdad de Summit County, or United for Equality of Summit County, an advocacy group dedicated to supporting immigrants in the county.
Additionally, Dominguez worked alongside law enforcement agencies in Summit County to create the Latino Citizens Police Academy — an effort aimed at building trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement — which has graduated more than 80 locals through the program. He’s also a former board member for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, and has worked with the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman confirmed Dominguez’s role in helping set up the Latino Citizens Police Academy, but declined to comment on his potential deportation. Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor, who served as sheriff when the program started, couldn’t be reached for comment. Representatives with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
Dominguez said that his desire to dive into advocacy, and to help better his community, came after his trouble with the law, which was precipitated by the abrupt death of his son. Bryan passed away in 2009 at the age of 13 due to complications with swine flu and medical malpractice. Dominguez said he entered a state of deep depression and fought alcohol abuse in the years following Bryan’s death.
“I made some mistakes and I had to change,” said Dominguez, in an interview with the Summit Daily. “I know I had the power and the energy. I found out about a group getting together and I decided to be a part of it, and took on leadership — knocking on doors, talking to people, planning and organizing.”
At the meeting on Friday, Dominguez was lauded for the work he’s done in the community over the last several years.
“What has impressed me most with Javier is that his focus has always been on building bridges,” said Peter Bakken, director of operations for FIRC. “Bridges of trust and friendship between law enforcement and the immigrant community, between Anglos and Latinos, between one person and another. … I am here to speak out fully and unconditionally in support of Javier and his fight against deportation and being separated forcefully from his family.”
Dominguez and his wife Veronica have four children (ages 7-25), three of whom are U.S. citizens and another who is in the country as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Dominguez will head to court in Denver on Monday where he’ll likely find out whether or not he’ll be deported back to Mexico. The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition has started a petition to grant Dominguez a stay of deportation, and the family is hoping to get as many signatures as possible before the hearing next week.
“I’m asking for one chance to stay with my family, to give more to this community,” said Dominguez. “I want to come back stronger. I have more to give, and I’m here for it. I want to stay.”
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