Dueling immigration rallies in Fort Collins are peaceful | SummitDaily.com

Dueling immigration rallies in Fort Collins are peaceful

FORT COLLINS ” Amid competing chants of “USA” and “Si se puede,” hundreds of people gathered at dueling rallies on immigration policy Sunday, a day ahead of events planned nationwide for immigration reform.

A rally organized by the immigration rights group Fuerza Latina and a counter-rally by Northern Coloradans for Immigration Reduction together drew more than 850 people, the Coloradoan reported. The groups were largely peaceful, despite the competing chants of “USA” and the Spanish phrase, “Si se puede,” or “yes, we can.”

Fuerza Latina leaders have said they thought holding a march Sunday would draw more people than holding one Monday.

Before marching to Old Town on Sunday, at least 500 people gathered at Colorado State University to protest a House bill that would make it a felony to be an undocumented immigrant.

Members of Fuerza Latina said they favor immigration reform that keeps families together and does not criminalize immigrants.

Israel Linarte, a native of Nicaragua, lived in the United States illegally for 14 years before getting his papers two years ago. The CSU graduate student said he understands the impact illegal immigration can have on national security and that immigration laws must be more strictly enforced. He also said amnesty should be offered to those already here.

“Our economy needs those 11 or 12 million people,” he said.

Sherri Higgins was among 350 NCIR supporters at the counter-rally. She held a sign that said “Welcome ‘legal’ immigrants.”

“We have the laws, but we’re not enforcing them,” said Higgins, who moved to Fort Collins from Arizona a month ago.

She said she welcomes legal immigrants who integrate themselves into the culture.

“They have to learn English,” Higgins said. “They have to share our values and our faith.”

Dale Breidenbach, holding an American flag, said he supports prosecuting companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers.

“Our borders need to be secure,” he said. “We need to take back our country; we need a reduction in immigration.”

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