After three taxing days of walking and sleeping in churches offering shelter, community leaders and activists on Sunday were preparing to reach their final destination for the Pilgrimage for Citizenship. Their final destination will be the district office in Greeley of Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Democrat who represents Colorado's 8th Congressional District.
On Monday, leaders were set to begin the final stretch of their 60-mile journey in hopes of gaining support from Caraveo, Sen. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet on a bill to update the registry date and create a pathway to citizenship. This would affect over 8.5 million immigrants.
It began on Friday, when immigrant leaders gathered at the Colorado State Capitol west steps to mark the start of their 60 mile pilgrimage. It is dedicated to honoring the contribution of millions of immigrants and urging Colorado lawmakers to reconsider their positions on the registry update and join the rest of the Colorado Democratic delegation in supporting a pathway to citizenship through updating the registry law.
Homero Ocon, an activist and supporter of the cause, says this move is urgent so that people like him can live freely in the U.S.
"We are doing a pilgrimage to Greeley, Colorado to motivate Caraveo, the woman from Greeley, Colorado that is not supporting the registry law," said Ocon.
Raquel Lane-Arellano, a spokesperson for the Colorado Immigration Rights Coalition, the organization behind the pilgrimage, said on Sunday it had been a long journey, but worth it.
"For us we really hope to have Caraveo sign on and our senators by the end of this trip, but even if they don't the conversations we've had along the way have been special and have made the impact that we want," said Lane-Arellano.
Right now Caraveo is not listed on the bill, but a statement from her office says she does support creating a pathway to citizenship.
In a statement to CBS Colorado a spokesperson from her office said in part:
"Congresswoman Caraveo is supportive of creating a pathway to citizenship. She is appreciative of the hard work of groups in our community who advocate for the rights and dignity of immigrants, and looks forward to continued conversation about these important issues."
H.R. 1511, the Renewing Immigration Provisions of Immigration Act of 1929, would expand that pathway for qualifying undocumented individuals who have lived in the U.S. for at least seven years.
"If passed the bill would allow 8.5 million people to legalize their status if they've been here for seven years or longer," said Lane-Arellano.
Current law only allows those who entered the country before January 1, 1972, this opportunity, which means people like Leticia Ramirez Flores do not have this right. She arrived in the U.S. in 2000 and has not seen her family -- who stayed in Mexico -- since.
"It's like losing half of your life, it is like without not knowing if you're ever going to see them again, of course it's a risk we all take, but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt," said Ramirez-Flores.
The Colorado Immigration Rights Coalition pilgrimage will end on Monday in Greeley. They still have about 16 miles to walk.
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