The Latino community made its request clear to the Greeley City Council on Tuesday night: reject and discard the proposed resolution to bring an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to Greeley.
An estimated 600 people went to the city council chambers, 717 9th St., for the council’s meeting to demonstrate opposition to the proposal. The group filled council chambers to capacity and spilled out into the hallway and into extra rooms in the public safety building where they watched on television. Hundreds more stood outside.
Members of the group—Latinos Unidos or United Latinos—detailed their opposition during a public input session. The council didn’t have the item on its agenda but made time for the group. The council has assigned the Greeley Human Relations Commission to study the issue and give the council a recommendation within a month.
Sylvia Martinez, the de-facto group leader, thanked council for rejecting the original proposal passed by the Weld County commissioners and cautioned the council not to make decisions without adequate statistics. She said the group would be back when council considers the resolution.
Alonzo Barrón, a University of Northern Colorado student, told the council he represented Latino UNC students who are fed up with the way they’ve been treated. He said they will no longer allow their community to become scapegoats for the community’s problems.
“We are standing up tonight, and we will remain standing until justice is served,” Barrón said.
Priscilla Falcon, director of the César Chávez Cultural Center at UNC, told the council it must ask itself if an ICE office would divide or separate the community, a rhetorical question. Roberto Córdova, a former UNC professor, said an ICE office would unfairly target only half of a two-sided issue that includes illegal immigrants and the employers that hire them.
Virginia Guzman, principal at Billie Martinez Elementary School in Greeley, said she’s appalled at how the Latino community has been characterized and urged council to reject the proposal.
After the public input session concluded, the people filed out of the building and gathered around Martinez for a short rally. People held signs in Spanish and English: “Crime has no color,” “Migra no,” “We demand respect for our community,” and chanted “si se puede,” “yes, it’s possible.”
As she stood outside in the cold night, Falcon admired the demonstration. She said she hasn’t seen anything like it since the 1960s Chicano movement.