The Vigil for Immigrants’ Rights, sponsored by Fuerza Latina, in Old Town Square Wednesday, was a compilation of speakers, musicians, and advocates for better immigration laws.
The attendants were brandishing signs that read, “Keep my family together,” “Stop the Raids” and “Human Rights for all.”
A group of musicians performed a call-and-respond song, the main line being “we will not be moved.”
Speakers at the event spoke on various topics. One speaker, Sister Mary Alice Murphy asked, “when laws are discriminatory or unjust do we have to obey them?”
CSU student Vanessa Conway also questions the fairness of immigration laws.
“I guess I think we need immigration reform that addresses human rights. I know we address economic and legal issues which is important, but I believe that no matter where someone is they deserve to be treated with basic human dignity,” Conway said.
Another speaker made the point that immigration is a moral issue as well as a religious issue, addressing the crowd with WWJD, being different from the slogan familiar to most, it meant, “Who Would Jesus Deport.”
Another speaker told the crowd that these immigrants are not here without papers because they want to be, but because employers cannot legalize their employees under current immigration laws. She went on to say that this is “domestic terrorism” because mothers and fathers are being terrorized by deportation officers.
Some people chose to participate in the event, even though they are legal citizens of the United States.
“I’m here because even though I am a 7th generation American, it doesn’t matter. What’s going on with immigration is creating racism. And it doesn’t matter if you’re from here or not, people judge first, and then find out whether you’re legal or illegal. All minorities should be worried because of the family separation and suffering. It feels like the ’60’s and ’70’s in the civil rights movement and it’s coming back and it’s a very sad thing.” said Maria Lerma, a Fort Collins resident and IBM student.
She said she would like to see just immigration laws passed so that people who have already made their homes here can stay.
Many myths about immigration have been circulating throughout the United States, such as those claiming that immigrants drain the economy, according to a brochure distributed by Fuerza Latina. The net benefit of immigration to the U.S. is nearly $10 billion per year and immigrants are projected to contribute nearly $2 trillion to social security between 1988 and 2072.
Another issue highlighted was the issue of the deportation of children in the middle of the school year, forcing them to end their education.
” I’d like to see a better community in Fort Collins because we see, according to my experience in the school district, that some kids living in the south have more opportunities than those in the north,” said Brenda Guzman who is a worker in the Fort Collins school system through CSU.
It is sad for her to see these children stop their education because they have to leave by December, especially when it is so evident that they are excelling in school, she said.
“I just want people to know their rights because a lot of people’s rights are being abused,” participant Natalia Reim said.
Cece Wildeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.