Nearly a decade ago, when Ismael Cervantes was 12 years old, his mother’s ex-boyfriend murdered his 17-year-old brother. But when they found out the killer was able to pay his way out of his sentence, the family fled to the United States.
After arriving in Woodland Park, Cervantes was faced with expulsion from his middle school because he couldn’t show them his immigration papers. But after meeting with the superintendent of the district and proving that everyone has the right to attend K-12, the matter was dropped.
And to this day, he has not been able to gain residency, despite the circumstances of his departure from his home country.
He is now here on a work permit. He didn’t think the government would give him papers if he was going to be in trouble later. But after six months, the problem returned.
“I got a letter that said I was to fight a deportation order and my claim for residency had been denied,” he said.
Cervantes is only one of the advocates for comprehensive immigration reform who attended an immigration rally in support of comprehensive policy reform on the Oval Tuesday night.
After a series of testimonials, the group marched to District 4’s Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey’s office in Old Town.
The crowd marched down College Avenue holding signs and chanting, “2-4-6-8 family unity cannot wait.”
A 7-year-old Northern Colorado boy named Dylan Baker rode a scooter with a sign that read, “Will You Let my Friends Go to College?”
Kim Baker-Medina, a local immigration attorney, attended the rally and said that in the six years since she opened her office, she’s seen countless people deported.
“I spend every day trying to make the laws work, and they just don’t work,” Baker-Medina said.
The goal of the rally was to show the congresswoman that people in her district view immigration as a pressing issue that is in need of reform.
Ben Marter, Markey’s chief spokesperson, said the congresswoman believes the immigration system is facing a crisis but does not support amnesty.
“She believes that bringing civility to the debate is critical,” Marter said, later adding, “We need to protect and secure our borders, so we know who and what is coming into our country.”
Cervantes, like many immigrants seeking residency and eventually citizenship, is waiting while his January 2010 court date, to determine whether or not he will be deported, quickly approaches.
He said that with his wife enrolled full-time at CSU and relying solely on him for financial support, he hopes the judge will “be in a good mood” and grant him residency.
“The most appalling thing is that in a country that reportedly values family, we have no qualms about separating children from their parents or husbands from their wives when members of the family are undocumented,” Baker-Medina said.
Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.