Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center (FCIRC).
Our Mission: To create positive social change by supporting all immigrants and their loved ones through advocacy, education, and integrative programs.
Our History: Founded in 1999 as a community response to the Immigration and Naturalization Service plan to open a deportation center in Durango, Colorado. Founding members led a grassroots campaign to protest building while aligning with the Durango City Council to publicly denounce the facility. After a successful outcome, Compañeros became a formal program under the fiscal sponsorship of San Juan Citizens Alliance, a social and environmental justice organization. In August of 2011, we filed to become an independent 501c3 non-profit and today we are one of the only area organizations serving Latinos, immigrants, and their families and allies in Southwest Colorado.
Presentation to the League of Women Voters gives scoop on local immigration issues.
Article published Sep 10, 2014 Pressure on immigrants increasing, migrants important to local economy, advocate says By Ann Butler Herald staff writer
While debates and demonstrations on immigration issues make national news, advocates in La Plata County are helping immigrants living in the country illegally navigate through the morass of legal and employment issues that accompany the situation. On Wednesday, the League of Women Voters of La Plata County got an update on the local immigration situation from Nicole Mosher, executive director of Los Compañeros Southwest Colorado Immigrant Resource Center, and Lindsay Marshall, an immigration lawyer with Colorado Legal Services.
If anything, they said, the pressures have become more intense on the population they serve, which comes primarily from Mexico and Central America. “Last year, slightly more than 360 people called or came to Los Compañeros for help,” Mosher said. “This year so far, we’ve had more than 490.” Mosher talked of the human cost of some policies: separating families, including spouses from each other and children from parents; deporting people after traffic offenses; and the loss of workers.
“Sometimes I run into people who say, ‘we have immigrants here?’” she said. “I say look in the alleys, the kitchens, housekeeping departments at hotels, on construction sites. It would be a serious impact for the state to lose these workers. Ranchers, restaurant owners and hotel owners want to help their workers, but we don’t have a way to do that.”
Opponents to any pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally make the argument that they should just go get a visa and get on the path to citizenship legally. That’s not so easy, Marshall said.
“The average person isn’t a highly skilled person being recruited,” she said, “so the visa process is based on the family situation. The wait time for the fastest visa, after the paperwork is approved and the fees are paid, is five years, but in general, it’s 20 or 25 years. People can’t wait that long to support their families.”
Colorado passed three laws last year that make the living situations for immigrants better, Mosher said, including the right to have a driver’s license. The law went into effect Aug. 1, but since the Department of Motor Vehicles funded only five offices to issue the licenses, it’s proved difficult to actually get one. The closest office for La Plata County residents is in Grand Junction.
“They had 40,000 applications right away, and it clogged their system,” Mosher said. They both made the point that there are no easy answers in the immigration debate.
“A lot of advocates think that rather than a great overhaul of the system, which is either dead, or dormant, we may be best off making piecemeal changes by addressing certain fragile populations, such as children and victims of domestic violence,” Marshall said.
Holding local sheriffs accountable.
Compañeros is effecting positive changes for the entire SW Colorado community by meeting with county sheriffs and community leaders to discuss relationships between law enforcement and minority groups, including immigrant residents. In May of this year, Colorado sheriff's received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union telling them that they should immediately stop the practice of detaining immigrants as a courtesy to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ACLU said that holding someone in the jail who was determined free to go, with or without bond, so that ICE agents can take them into custody, violates the constitution and puts counties at risk of potential law suits. The practice of putting people on an "ICE Hold" can and has already caused the unnecessary separation of families and the deportation of thousands of individuals, many of whom were arrested on low-level offenses.
Colorado counties were incredibly responsive to the letter and within two months, more than 58 of the 64 had agreed to end the detentions. Compañeros was able to get a written policy of these changes from Montezuma County Sheriff, however La Plata County Sheriff has only stated that they are no longer honoring ICE holds but we have reason to believe the practice still continues or new methods used by ICE, with cooperation from the jailers, have worked to skirt the new policy.
Check out the full article on our News page.
Thanks to Jade Masque & Dolores River Brewery for a fun and successful fundraising event. Gracias a Jade Masque y Dolores River Brewery para un evento exitoso y divertido.
A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site for Spanish speakers, call today for an appt.
Ayuda gratiz con los impuestos!! Martes y Jueves de 4-7pm en nuestra oficina. Llame al 970-375-9406 para hacer una cita.
Thanks to our volunteer, Diego, and Alpine Bank of Durango for supporting this program.
Politicians will be political, there's no way around it.
Executive Director Nicole Mosher was invited to the Southwest Republican Women's brunch to meet face to face with Representative Scott Tipton. This was the second time in the past year she has pressed him for a comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth, agricultural and service industry workers, and those families who have been long time law-abiding residents in the U.S. Tipton says he's compassionate towards the youth who were brought here when they were young, but recently he voted against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This program, also referred to as DACA, has been the best thing that has happened for our country in a long time. It's impact is felt by the entire community as eligible immigrants can now legally work and obtain driver's licenses. Has Tipton even spoken with any youth who qualified for this program? What we do know is that he has repeatedly been more focused on border security than creating a policy that could help our nation find a solution for the millions of undocumented people already on this side of the border.
Without fast and active effort on the part of the House of Representatives, the problems of immigration will only get worse. Obama has recently backed out on his promise to take executive action or administrative relief by the end of this summer. Now he claims he will do something after this year's election. Once again, politicians, no matter which side of the isle, are just playing politics, a game one comes to despise because of its glad-handing, inefficiency, inaction and repetition of what are often bold-faced lies.
You've heard it before, this country was founded by immigrants and simply because of that, it will continue to be a desired destination for future immigrants. No other outside race can claim historical roots in this country or any of the Americas earlier than the native peoples, so regardless of one's political or social beliefs, background or heritage, we must remember to be humble because our ancestors started out as a guest in this foreign land. The best way to deal with immigration reform is to be proactive, focus on the positive, have an open dialogue, be welcoming and encourage immigrants to learn English, pay taxes, participate in our communities and democracy so it can be a better nation for liberty and justice for All.
Check out our new office, we're located in the Commons Building at 701 Camino Del Rio, Suite 309.
Last summer's visit by Mexican Consulate promotes Compañeros for successful fundraiser.
On July 27th we hosted a fundraising event at Sacred Heart Church in Durango while the Mexican Consulate attended to over 200 people seeking to renew passports and identification cards. Thanks to CJs Diner and Durango Joe's Coffee for donating 100 breakfast burritos and 50 cups of coffee to Compañeros so we could raise some money from the community. Thanks also to Vicente y Teresa from Chiquita's Mexican Tiendita for donating very delicious homemade horchata which was a huge hit with adults and kids alike. Compañeros raised one thousand dollars from the event proceeds and were able to spread the word of our work towards immigration reform at the local and state level as well as nationally.
Thanks to the crew of ACS who made contributions and came out to show their support.
Thanks to the crew of Advanced Concrete Solutions for your support of Compañeros!!
Talking with our Senators >>
Board President Deedee deHaro-Brown and CIRC Development Coordinator, Karen Sherman-Perez, have a good laugh with Senator Mark Udall in between serious discussion on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.
2013 Was a year of victories in Colorado for immigrant-friendly legislation. See News Page to read our newsletters. 2013 era un año de victorias de legislación en Colorado para apoyar a los inmigrantes. Mira la página de Noticias para leer nuestro boletín.