• December 8th, 2023
  • Friday, 05:01:48 PM

Latinx Coloradans Lobby State Legislators for Social Justice

Photo: COLOR Dusti Gurule, Executive Director of COLOR and founder of Colorado’s Latino/a Advocacy Day.

A virtual crowd of over 100 Latinx Coloradans from across the state united for Latino/a Advocacy Day (LAD) on March 14th and 15th. On Monday, 57 participated in policy briefing sessions about current bills regarding reproductive, environmental, criminal, economic, and immigration justice. Today, LAD participants met with state elected officials including Sen. Bob Rankin, Rep. Alex Valdez, Sen. Julie Gonzalez, Rep. Serena Gonzalez-Gutiérrez, Sen. Dominick Moreno, Sen. James Coleman, Sen. Brittany Pettersen, and Rep. Kerry Tipper to lobby for this legislation.

“When members of the community are able to come down to the Capitol and they put in a slip of paper asking to speak with me, I make a point of making the time to speak with them. Hearing from constituents is the most important thing to me.”
Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutiérrez

Colorado Latino/a Advocacy Day was initially conceived as a response to a special session held in 2006, where Colorado lawmakers convened to pass a law —protested by 50,000 immigrants and allies— that would force one million Coloradans to prove their residency in order to collect most state and federal aid. “It can be hard to envision what the state was like in those days,” Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) Executive Director Lisa Durán told participants on Sunday, “because it is so different today, in large part because of the work by people like Dusti [COLOR Executive Director and LAD founder] and events like LAD. And I just want to thank every one of you for envisioning a world in which we get to be the leaders that we are.”

Dusti Gurule, Executive Director of a Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and founder of LAD, opened the two-day event with a passionate recount of the history of LAD: “In April of 2006, I attended the National Council of La Raza’s National Latino Advocacy Day and experienced the power of an organized, informed advocacy effort targeted at law makers. After the 2006 special legislative session, I knew the importance of our community having a voice in our state policy.”

In the fifteen years since the initial LAD, the event has brought families and communities together every year to share stories and advocate for issues facing Latinx families. According to Alex Sánchez, co-founder of LAD and Executive Director for Voces Unidas de las Montañas, “We built upon our legacy by bringing people together to tell their stories and leverage the collective strength of our voices. This will help to fuel our efforts as we continue to push back on anyone who will try to take away our rights, separate our families, deny our bodily autonomy, or disrespect and discriminate against our community.”

Durango-based LAD participant Enrique Orozco-Pérez agreed, noting, “There is this extra hurdle for us, being so far from the capitol. A lot of what’s happening is very Denver focused, so it’s very important that when we are coming up with these laws that we want to change, that the rural parts of Colorado aren’t forgotten about.”

Foto/Photo: Colorado General Assembly Colorado State Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutiérrez.

And there is no doubt that Colorado’s legislators take special care to listen to Latinx voices at this event. During Monday’s panel with the Latino Caucus, Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez told participants that “we get cards from lobbyists all the time, but when members of the community are able to come down to the capitol and they put in a slip of paper asking to speak with me, I make a point of making the time to speak with them. Hearing from constituents is the most important thing to me.”

With the COVID-19 response disproportionately leaving Latinxs behind, Latino/a Advocacy Day 2021 proves that our communities are resilient and ready to help shape and influence policies that affect their daily lives. “Sometimes you think that because they’re legislators, they’re unreachable,” LAD participant Judith Padilla says of state representatives, “but that’s not the case. La voz cuenta.”


For More Colorado News: ELSEMANARIO.US


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