Pro-immigration groups say they won’t go to work, buy anything
eagle county correspondent
EDWARDS ” Jorge Hernandez of Avon applied for a visa to be in this country legally in 1992. He’s still waiting for a decision.
“Just to be legal, for once, for the first time,” he said.
Hernandez, 31, works in the valley as a building framer, but Monday he won’t work. He will join hundreds of other immigrants in a rally in Eagle County and boycott to coincide with the national “Day Without Immigrants.”
Pro-immigration protesters will rally across the country Monday as politicians are working on an immigration reform bill in Washington. Hernandez and other immigrants in Eagle County say they want wider opportunities to become legal workers in the U.S.
Alonso Varela, 30, of Eagle-Vail, will also skip work Monday. He is a U.S. citizen, but his wife is not, and he wants to support immigrants’ rights.
“We are trying to make our presence felt,” he said. “All we want is to be recognized legally.”
The Senate returned to work this week on a compromise for the bill. A harsher House version of the bill passed in December would make it a felony to be in the country illegally and also would institute penalties for people who hire illegal immigrants or give them aid.
Under the Senate compromise, immigrants in the U.S. longer than five years could apply for citizenship without leaving the country.
Hernandez said he wasn’t able to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Mexico last year because he wouldn’t have been allowed back in the country.
“I can’t go to Mexico,” he said. “My family goes every year.”
Fliers posted around the Vail Valley advertise in Spanish the May Day rally and boycott, asking immigrants to unite to achieve a “fair chance” in the United States.
One flier says immigrants shouldn’t go to work, shouldn’t go shopping, shouldn’t send their kids to school, shouldn’t use their cell phones and shouldn’t fill up with gas. Another version simply says immigrants shouldn’t go to work or go shopping.
May 1 is International Workers’ Day, a celebration of the labor movement. In many countries besides the U.S., May 1 is considered Labor Day.
Varela said his employer wasn’t very happy about his employees skipping work Monday, but they will not show up nonetheless.
“He felt it was an insult to him,” he said.
Varela said he hopes the day will get employers behind the pro-immigration movement. “We’re trying to get the employers to support our cause,” he said. “They benefit as much as we do.”
Varela said he is unsure of the turnout because some illegal immigrants may be afraid of flaunting their illegal status.
There’s some variation for the time of the march. One flier asks marchers to meet at 3 p.m. at the West Lot at the base of Beaver Creek in Avon. Israel Ruiz Ramos of Edwards said marchers will be meeting at about 9 a.m. at the West Lot. Ruiz Ramos said he expects more than a thousand people.
“We want to show how far the economy goes down,” he said.
On April 10, hundreds of immigrants staged a march that wended through Avon. That demonstration also coincided with national rallies.
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