FORT MORGAN, Colo. — On Sunday evening, a group gathered in Fort Morgan as a call to action to protect access to asylum and provide a pathway to citizenship for families.
The event was part of a national week of action, organized by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The communications director for the Colorado office, Jennifer Piper, said the organization works to protect the rights of immigrants and educate the public about the immigration system.
"Tonight, we're here with our chapter in Fort Morgan. It's a group of folks who are seeking asylum in the United States," Piper said. “All the folks in the group have been here less than three years, and they've made Fort Morgan their home. All of our folks are in family groups, and this is their first public action.”
Piper said AFSC has around 50 members in Morgan County. She said all of the members lived in Central America before coming to Colorado.
“They're really excited to talk with their larger community, to hear about their hopes and dreams in the United States, as well as some of the changes they hope to see that will help other migrants have their rights respected," Piper said. “Folks have been coming to Fort Morgan over the last two years quietly. And that's part of the reason we knew that more folks would be arriving soon to Colorado, as people are migrating more frequently around the world.”
Piper said the event on Sunday was planned since early October, and just happened to coincide with migrants arriving in Denver. In part, she said the Fort Morgan group was also standing in solidarity with the individuals who have recently passed through Denver.
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Magdalena Simon attended the vigil on Sunday evening, and said she was forced to leave her home country of Guatemala.
“It's because in my country, there was no more future for me and for my children. I wasn't able to study or to have a career because the government doesn't help us at all," Simon said as Piper translated. “They were threatening our lives if we didn't pay a certain amount of money and the government won't protect us and we didn't have that money.”
Simon said when her family first came to the United States, they entered asylum proceedings and were attending all of their check-ins, but her husband was detained for four months during one of her pregnancies. Simon said she still does not know why her husband was detained.
“I'm here because I don't want any other family to go through what my family went through," Simon said.
Piper said Sunday was just the beginning of AFSC's actions in Colorado this week. The group also plans on delivering cards to Congressman Ken Buck and both of Colorado's U.S. Senators.