Immigration advocates march in Denver for rights
DENVER ” Supporters of immigration rights marched through the city Thursday and called on Democrats to put discussions on the issue at the forefront of the national convention and the fall political campaigns.
The march was organized by Colorado members of the “We Are America Alliance,” a national immigration-rights organization and took demonstrators across a city bridge within view of Invesco Field, where Barack Obama was scheduled to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night.
The march came on the final morning of the four-day Democratic National Convention.
“We feel we need to stand up,” said alliance member Nita Gonzales. “There’s been too little mentioned in the media and not enough attention during the convention on immigration reform.”
Aztec-style dancers led the march. Members of clergy joined the parade, and an airplane etched “Peace” in the blue Denver sky.
Among the nearly 1,000 marchers was former Denver mayor Federico Pena, who is a co-chairman of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. With several others, he carried a banner saying “Immigration Rights Are Human Rights.”
“Unfortunately, President Bush and the current Congress did not pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Pena said. “They need to understand these immigrants are here to help our economy. They’re here to take jobs most people don’t want.”
Pena, who has worked to court Hispanic voters for Obama, praised the Democratic candidate at a rally that ended the mile march.
Obama’s position on immigration includes increasing border security and cracking down on employers exploiting undocumented workers, while offering a “pathway to citizenship” for those who learn English and pay back taxes and fines.
John McCain, who will become the Republicans’ nominee next week in St. Paul, Minn., sponsored a bill in 2006 that would have permitted immigrants to apply for citizenship in the U.S. after learning English, paying fines and back taxes, and clearing a background check.
McCain has since shifted, and supports securing the border and building a fence.
“When he became a candidate for office,” Pena said, “he turned his back on his own bill and does not support it as we think he should.”
The crowd spread across the park lawn applauded, whistled and shouted.
As they paraded from a city park in west Denver and passed Invesco Field those marching waived American flags and signs, many of them saying “Build Bridges Not Fences.”
One of the marchers’ many chants: “This is what America looks like.”
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