Colorado immigrant rights group brings annual assembly to Summit County
FOR MORE INFO
Unidos por la Igualdad: Contact Javier Dominguez at (970) 409-9606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bethany Immmigration Services: Call (970) 368-2373 or visit bethanyimmigration.org.
More than 200 people from around Colorado will gather this weekend for the first Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition annual assembly in Summit County.
Participants will include about 25 Summit residents, including the police chiefs from Breckenridge and Dillon.
The event at La Quinta in Silverthorne will begin with a dinner Friday, Oct. 23 and continue through Sunday, Oct. 25, with educational workshops, a law-enforcement panel discussion and voting on priorities for the statewide immigrant-rights advocacy organization going forward.
Workshop topics will include civic engagement, reproductive rights and supporting refugees.
The Summit organization Unidos por la Igualdad (United for Equality) will talk about its local efforts, including recent clinics on wage theft and the federal policy known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) as well as the Latino Citizens Police Academy.
Most assembly participants have families, so parents have been encouraged to bring their children, said Javier Dominguez, CIRC’s mountain coordinator who has been involved with Unidos por la Igualdad for the last six years.
“We have to come and teach those kids about what we’re doing,” he said.
Childcare and youth activities will be provided, including a poetry and hip hop workshop led by Denver-based Café Cultura. The $50 registaration also includes food from local businesses, entertainment from local performers and interpretation.
Sophia Clark, CIRC Rocky Mountain region organizer, said registration is closed, and the event is at capacity, but anyone interested in getting involved in the future is encouraged to reach out to the organization.
In Summit, one in eight residents from 2009-13 were foreign-born, according to the U.S. Census. The Census doesn’t indicate those people’s immigration or documentation status; it does note the foreign-born resident portion is higher than the state average.
“Like many places in Colorado, these resort communities depend a lot on immigrant labor,” Clark said.
Local officials say the immigrant community — which includes people here legally and illegally from various Spanish-speaking countries as well as natives of West Africa, Eastern European and other parts of the world — is growing. In Summit School District, children who speak English as a second language form about a third of the student population.
One local resource that found out about the assembly too late to participate is Bethany Immigration Services, the only locally-based nonprofit providing legal assistance to immigrants in Summit.
Bethany Immigration Services received accreditation in June, and the nonprofit’s office in the West Main Professional Building on Main Street in Frisco is now open on Tuesdays and Thursdays for appointments with founders Judy Phillips and Sarah Christy.
“There’s so many immigration needs in our community,” Phillips said. “Immigrants who are stable and established are going to be more productive and contributing to schools, the workplace and the county at large.”
POLICE WANT TO HELP
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition will prioritize its efforts at the assembly, which may shift toward economic justice, documentation assistance fraud or equitable application of Colorado’s 2014 drivers license law.
Or, Clark said, the nonprofit may decide to continue to focus on DAPA and building relationships between immigrants and law enforcement.
“There’s just a legacy in Colorado of really damaging policies,” she said, including a show-me-your-papers law that CIRC worked to repeal in 2013 and a program that linked local police operations to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
She said, “Any contact with the police people immediately associate with immigration and deportation, so people have felt for many years really unsafe and not able to use the police as a community resource.”
Breckenridge police chief Shannon Haynes said the department wants all local residents, regardless of their immigration status, to know that “if they call us for help, we’re going to help them.”
Officer Esteban Ortega has been doing outreach with a local group for Spanish-speaking mothers as well as with the radio station, La Nueva Mix, about police operations, she said, and she is excited to keep building relationships at the CIRC assembly.
“We’re thrilled that it’s coming to Summit County,” Haynes said.
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