In line with the millions across the nation who have taken to the streets to support illegal immigrants, CSU students on Wednesday took to the Lory Student Center Plaza.
“Building a wall is not the answer,” Ian Overton yelled across the busy quad.
Overton, a junior political science major, and other members of Finding Racial and Economic Equality (FREE) built a symbolic wall of orange plastic mesh on campus to educate students about immigrants and immigration.
“This is a symbol of what could happen,” said Jamie Sugarman, a FREE member and sophomore human studies and family development major.
Some students on campus were indifferent about the issue.
“My first reaction (to Overton) is, OK, what is the answer?” asked Shawna Graves, a senior microbiology major. She said she didn’t know enough about the issue to have a strong opinion on it. “All I know is it’s a complicated issue with no easy answers.”
FREE’s model wall was erected in protest of the federal legislation passed in December that proposes building a 700-mile long wall across the nearly 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border. The bill would also create tougher penalties for those who hire illegal immigrants. Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo helped shape this legislation.
But debate about the wall and the proposed legislation that could evict immigrants still rages.
“I think it’s crap that they’re going to criminalize it,” said Amanda Owen, a Fort Collins resident whose grandmother came to the U.S. illegally from Nayarit, Mexico, but is now a citizen. She said she did not think the proposed laws or a wall would be effective.
Members of FREE said they got mixed results from students. Some just walked by. Others were supportive and wanted to find out how to get involved. Still others were more combative, even yelling racial slurs at them.
A rally will be held Sunday at the Oval with a march to Old Town at 2 p.m. This rally, like the one in Denver that drew nearly 50,000 people a month ago, will be protesting a proposed state bill that would deny services to people living illegally in the state.
They will be calling and writing to state and national representatives to urge them to support immigrant rights. Fuerza Latina and the Center for Justice, Peace and Environment are organizing the rally.
FREE will also participate in May Day celebrations when they host a sit-in on Monday on the LSC Plaza. Also known as International Workers’ Day, May Day recognizes the social and economic improvements workers have fought for in the past. This year FREE will incorporate immigrant rights into this event.
But some do not think that protest will be effective.
“I don’t think any of these rallies change anyone’s opinions,” said Will Adams, press secretary for Tancredo. “At the end of the day, people have their minds made up about illegal immigrants.”
Overton disagreed and said he hoped U.S. policies toward Mexico and immigrants would change.
“If this truly is the land of the free, we’ll make it better for them,” Overton said.