Immigrant rights activists and supporters gathered for an hour Saturday on the four corners of Main Avenue and College Drive to call attention to the 2 millionth deportation by the Obama administration.
Rallies supporting the same cause occurred Saturday across the country, including in San Francisco and Atlanta.
In Durango, protesters displayed signs in English and Spanish calling for immigration reform. Huge photos of Coloradans affected by deportation of family members put a human face on the appeal.
“This month, deportations will hit 2 million – 1,010 a day – meaning that hundreds of thousands of families have been separated since Obama took office,” said Nicole Mosher, director of the Compañeros: Four Corners Immigration Resource Center, an immigrant-rights group in Durango. “Among those affected are U.S.-born children and people simply pulled over in a traffic stop.”
There are criminals, but not 2 million of them, Mosher said.
Ricardo and Priscilla Romero and their grandson, Enrique Benavidez, 14, from Greeley, who were in town for other reasons, joined the demonstration.
“We have a cultural center in Greeley where we fed people for 4½ years after they raided the Swift meatpacking plant there in 2006,” said Ricardo Romero, whose Spanish ancestors settled in what now is New Mexico in 1560.
“We support people’s right to not be deported because they are seeking a better life,” Romero said.
The raid Romero referenced occurred Dec. 12, 2006, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in the Midwest. About 1,300 workers were deported. Romero said 468 were from Greeley.
Mosher said similar protests were scheduled Saturday in Montrose, Grand Junction, Denver and Boulder. The groups coordinate activities through the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
“We want the Obama administration to fix a broken immigration system,” Mosher said. “Specifically, we want them to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”
The program, implemented in 2012, allows eligible candidates to request protection against deportation for two years, subject to renewal, in order to get authorization to work.
The program will expire this year if it isn’t extended.
“The 2 million people deported since Obama was inaugurated represents 1,010 people a day,” Mosher said. “We’re asking them to stop this indiscriminate policy. We need immigration reform now.”