Everyone in the audience nodded their heads in agreement as Rhonda Solis discussed one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history.
Solis talked about the impact on Greeley when nearly 300 employees were arrested in a raid in 2006 at the JBS meat packing plant then known as Swift & Co.
"Greeley is the poster child for immigration reform," Solis said. "We have to continue to talk to friends and family and remind them what happened here. When these families were taken away it had a ripple effect on our community."
Solis, who is a Greeley native and a well-known activist in the Latino community, was referring to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that resulted in the arrests of more than 1,200 undocumented workers at Swift plants in Texas, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.
She was one of several speakers Saturday at an immigration reform rally at City Hall. The rally was intended to get the attention of Rep. Cory Gardner , R-Colo. who organizers say isn't doing anything about a bill now in the House of Representatives and already passed by the senate.
"We have to work together and stop partisan politics," said state Rep. Dave Young , D.-Greeley. "Our current broken immigration system rewards bad economic behavior and devalues the paychecks of hard working families."
Young said when he was campaigning he heard many people say that undocumented workers take jobs from citizens, a thought he does not agree with.
"I don't see our local citizens clamoring for those field and dairy jobs," he said.
Javier Mabrey , the immigration reform organizer, said this is the first time in 30 years true reform has come this close to reality. He said it's not a fix, but a definite improvement.
"It will allow 11 million undocumented workers to come out of the shadows," he said. "We need to send a message to Cory Gardner that doing nothing is unacceptable."
Gardner, who wasn't at the event, said that the House is doing something, and there are a series of bills going through the House now to reflect that. He added that there are not enough votes to pass the Senate version.
"(It's) critical we do this right and what we need to start with is border security, enforcement and a strong guest worker program," he said by phone after the rally. "Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but we also are a nation of laws and our country needs to trust us in terms of what we are doing so we can avoid the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty."
More than two dozen people showed up for the event and held signs in support of immigration reform.
"The Immigration Policy Center estimates that Colorado will lose an estimated $8 billion in economic activity if all unauthorized immigrants were to be deported," Young said. "When people work for less than the going wages, it undercuts employment and saps the paychecks of every hard working family."
Tannis Bator , a retired District 6 teacher, said she attended the rally because she wants to be a presence in the effort to reform.
"People shouldn't be afraid that they will take away jobs of citizens," Bator said. "We need to look at corporations who outsource, look at the big picture to see who really has taken the jobs."
Joe Perez , who is running for the soon-to-be vacated Senate District 13 seat held by Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley , said citizens need to speak out and tell Gardner that the reform is needed.
"There is too much partisan bickering, too much stiff arming," he said. "We need to over come that. The only ones standing in the way of real reform is the House of Representatives. If they would just have the courage to say this is right for America."
Gardner said he is confident the House will pass something by August and that something will ensure the security of the nation along with helping to ease worries of an unequal playing field.
"If we have a workable E-Verify system, and we have a strong guest worker program we are going to alleviate the labor concern and people feeling like there is abuse in the system. But this is important, and it's going to take time." ___