Highlights from immigration events around Colorado
VAIL ” About 70 percent of the workforce stayed off the job Monday at the Gallegos Corp., a Vail-based masonry company that is considered a community leader in supporting immigrant workers.
Lisa Ponder, human resources director for the company, said the turnout was expected after Gallegos polled its 520 workers last week and allowed them to take the day off without pay.
Each summer, the company hires between 150 and 200 Mexican laborers on H2B work visas and provides them with housing and transportation in addition to jobs and standard benefits.
“We can’t get American workers,” Ponder told The Denver Post. “Let me tell you, if I could advertise and get American workers, I would do it.”
The company goes beyond the legally required minimum for screening job applicants to ensure that they are eligible to work in the United States, Ponder said. It checks the validity of Social Security numbers in addition to inspecting work permits.
“Do some get by us? Sure. What we hope is that it’s under 10 percent,” she said.
For more information: http://www.denverpost.com
REDSTONE ” Joyce Illian of the Redstone General Store faced a steady line of customers looking for espresso, coffee and lattes Monday morning because the only other restaurant in the small mountain town was closed in support of the May 1 rallies.
Illian, who was working alone, said she usually only sells one or two breakfast sandwiches on a given morning. On Monday, she had sold 10 and all the pastries she had. She was trying to prep for lunch.
“I’m just going to make sure I have a lot of lettuce cleaned and tomatoes sliced,” she said.
A few guests were staying at the Redstone Inn, but the kitchen was closed after six of its workers asked for the day off, general manager Debbie Strom said.
The small town, 20 miles from a grocery store, didn’t have any immigration rallies planned but the employees, who are from Mexico, planned to have a dinner together, Strom said. She said the inn would have been less willing to close the kitchen during the busy summer season, though she wasn’t taking a position on the immigration debate.
“We’re in hospitality business and we stay out of politics,” Strom said.
In nearby Carbondale, the Village Smithy restaurant had closed its doors. On the outskirts of town, four members of the kitchen staff at the Red Rock Diner were out, forcing owner Bob Olenick to man the grill in order to feed hungry customers.
Olenick said he started work at 4:45 a.m. ” joined by his son, and his son’s friend from Boulder ” and said he expected to work until sometime after 11 p.m.
“Colleen Slevin, AP, and The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com
DENVER ” Immigration was the focus of the morning invocation as the state Senate began its work Monday.
Rabbi Julian Cook of Congregation Emanuel in Denver said God teaches that all men and women are brothers and sisters and that the weak shouldn’t be exploited. He thanked God for the many blessings the nation has given its citizens but told senators that only a small percentage of them can truly call themselves “native.”
“Lord our God, give us the courage to work together for justice, so that our land will still shine as a beacon of hope, a flame of compassion, to all the downtrodden and persecuted of the world,” Cook said. “Grant us the vision to see that only justice can endure, and that only in being just to one another can we make our lives acceptable to you.”
DENVER ” The May 1 “Day Without Immigrants” had a big impact on some Denver-area schools, according to Denver Public Schools.
DPS spokesman Mark Stevens said not all schools had reported their truancy numbers. But he said at least three middle schools ” Kepner, Horace Mann and Kunsmiller ” all were reporting an absentee rate of about 70 percent.
The Arts and Cultural Studies school, which has around 200 students enrolled, was missing 98 percent of its students, Stevens said.
“It’s too bad. We believe every class day is important, and we think that the students should be in class,” Stevens said. “We understand their wanting to have their voices heard this issue. It’s just too bad it means that some important class time is sacrificed.”
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