Hispanic Heritage Rally in Downtown Denver

Activists call for humane treatment and a pathway to citizenship for refugees

On Sept. 25, in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, community members from across Colorado led a demonstration demanding “Citizenship Now.” The march began at Viking Park and continued for one and a half miles, concluding right outside the Sentry headquarters at the Tivoli Quad. The group of peaceful protesters totaled roughly 150 people from a wide variety of backgrounds and coalitions. They called upon the Biden Administration to form a viable pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country today.

Denver is a city of many backgrounds; according to the Vera Institute of Justice, roughly 12 percent of the metro area is comprised of migrants. The Citizenship Now march called on Colorado and the Federal Government to support that demographic.

Organizations present at the gathering included the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, American Friends Service Committee of Colorado, American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, Colorado People’s Alliance, and the United Farm Workers Foundation.

There were a wide variety of speakers present, most under the age of 30. Each of them shared their heartfelt stories of migration. Across them, a common theme arose: Each of these groups seek humanity. These groups seek better treatment from I.C.E. and to be seen as people, not migrants. For so many of these groups entering the United States, they are still in search of relative equality.

Immigrants are seeking asylum and refuge from Afghanistan, Haiti, Central America, and several regions of Africa, looking for peace and economic prosperity. In the wake of disturbing photos of border patrol agents whipping Haitian migrants and separating Latin American families, there have been growing cries for basic human rights.

Of particular importance to this issue is Title 42, which has come under scrutiny after these documented attacks on migrants. Originally created in the 1944 Public Health Services Law, Title 42 “allows the government to prevent the introduction of individuals during certain public health emergencies,” according to Immigration Director of the International Rescue Committee Olga Byrne (ABC News). Effectively, this law is a way to deny asylum seekers a court appearance under the convenient guise of public health endangerment—in this case due to COVID-19. However, Byrne also stated that “U.S. law says that any person in the United States or at the border with the United States has a right to seek asylum.”

938,045 migrants were expelled under this ruling between October 2020 and August of 2021, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
Activists at the Denver protest stress the importance of identifying where the government can improve and take initiative on these issues. They urge listeners to take the time to call their senators and share their feelings with them. One young speaker with CIRC emphasized the importance of having your voice heard, stating, “every day of inaction is a day the status quo continues.”

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