In a letter released Monday, February 8, a coalition of 300 concerned organizations, elected officials, businesses and community members called on Sen. John Hickenlooper to commit to supporting Colorado’s impacted communities and to deliver the necessary aid and protection he promised to all Coloradans. The letter came in response to the senator’s symbolic vote to block stimulus payments to undocumented people.
“The message U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper sent on February 4, 2021, with his vote to block vital stimulus payments to undocumented immigrants was loud and clear: I only care about you when I’m campaigning,” the letter said.
“The senator’s vote to deny critical relief to people who need it most was a slap in the face to every essential worker, every immigrant, and every Coloradan. It is not enough for him to praise people as essential while campaigning. The senator must actually prove it through his actions as an elected.”
Denise Maes, ACLU
Notably, the signatories cited the harm immigrant communities have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic including the 19.8 million essential workers who’ve risked their lives under the constant threat of exposure. The coalition also called out the senator for his cruelty in turning against the communities he claimed to care about and the people who helped put him in office.
“Sen. Hickenlooper’s campaign page highlights his past actions as Governor of Colorado to address immigration challenges by granting in-state tuition to DREAMers, granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and opposing Trump’s horrific decision to end DACA. Yet, in the midst of a public health crisis that has disproportionately impacted immigrant communities and people of color, the Senator made his own cruel decision. Sen. Hickenlooper voted to deny financial relief to nurses, teachers, farm workers, grocery store employees, janitors, parents and community members who continue to risk their health to secure essential services,” the letter continued.
Manuel, an immigrant from Denver expressed the impact he felt from the Senator’s vote. “It frustrates and saddens me very much that a person who we thought would be on our side suddenly turns his back on hard working undocumented immigrants,” said Manuel. “If this bill had passed, it could’ve potentially caused someone to be evicted from their apartment, or to miss an important payment like a medical bill.”
The senator’s vote also drew widespread criticism and condemnation from several elected officials and organizations including Colorado State Senator Julie Gonzales and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC).
“Undocumented Coloradans are working on the frontlines of our economy in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” Sen. Julie Gonzales said. “Sen. Hickenlooper doesn’t get to pick and choose when he cares about immigrants. He’s either committed to protecting immigrants and all Coloradans, all of the time or he’s not. It’s as simple as that.”
“Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action Fund condemns Senator Hickenlooper’s shocking anti-immigrant vote to deprive our immigrant families of the help they desperately need in this pandemic,” Alex Galaena, Managing Director of CIRC said. “If the Senator wants to rebuild trust with our immigrant communities, he must relentlessly push for legislation that gives a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million members of our undocumented community.”
“To say this is a disappointment would be an understatement. Candidate Hickenlooper promised Coloradans in 2020 that he’d learned from his past mistakes that harmed our undocumented brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, Senator Hickenlooper seems to have forgotten his promises to our communities, and at the first opportunity, he has voted against our communities,” stated Gurule, Executive Director of Colorado Organization Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) Action Fund.
“Colorado is not made up of only white moderate voters and in fact, Colorado Latinxs and people of color turned out in record-high levels for Democrats in the 2020 election,” explained Gurule. “We hope that in the future his team will not only recognize but actually include the BIPOC and immigrant-led constituency groups who make up our state in his work and policy priorities. A Senator who leads from and for the community is truly what Colorado and our communities need.”
In the letter the 300 signatories called on Sen. Hickenlooper to course correct and deliver on the promises he made while campaigning.
“The Senator must immediately commit to supporting Colorado’s impacted communities, and take every opportunity to deliver necessary aid and protection to all Coloradans. Past promises and platitudes are not enough. If the Senator truly is ‘committed to reversing the Trump Administration’s harmful immigration agenda and helping to restore humanity to a broken system,’ he needs to do better than he did last Thursday. We need a senator who truly is ‘laser-focused on getting us through the pandemic, rebuilding the economy and finding a long-term solution to fix our broken immigration system.’ We need Sen. Hickenlooper to keep his promise.”
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes said, “The senator’s vote to deny critical relief to people who need it most was a slap in the face to every essential worker, every immigrant, and every Coloradan. It is not enough for him to praise people as essential while campaigning. The senator must actually prove it through his actions as an elected.”
The full text of the Colorado coalition letter and a list of its signatories can be found here.
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