This weekend, immigration activists took part in a 60-mile pilgrimage from Denver to Greeley to urge U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO) and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) to support creating a pathway to citizenship by updating the federal registry law.

According to the American Immigration Council, current immigration law contains a provision called “registry” that allows certain non-citizens who are long-term residents of the United States, but who are either undocumented or present in the country under some sort of temporary immigration status, to register for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. In order to qualify, individuals must have entered the country on or before a specified date, known as the “registry date,” and must demonstrate good moral character and continuous residence since their entry. After its creation in 1929, Congress advanced the registry date four times, most recently in 1986, when the date was set at January 1, 1972 — meaning that only non-citizens who entered the United States by that date are eligible to apply for LPR status through registry.  

“The purpose of this pilgrimage is to motivate our federal representatives who have not yet given us their support, to let them see the leadership of the offices who are already signed on,” said Leticia Ramirez, mother and activist with United for Immigration Reform, in a news release. “Only together can we achieve immigration reform. We are experiencing moments of attacks and increased discrimination and persecution against our immigrant community, and it is in the hands of our congressional delegation to help us make this change.”

Photo courtesy the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) is urging Caraveo, Bennet, and Hickenlooper to support HR 1151, Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929, a bill which would amend section 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to give certain long-term residents of the United States the way to apply for and receive, at the discretion of the attorney general, admission as a legal permanent resident. HR 1151 would change the current registry date, 1972, to seven years prior to the current date. CIRC says this would benefit anyone who has been in the U.S. for more than seven years, including DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipients, farm workers, and millions of undocumented immigrants who currently have no pathway to citizenship.  

“Our families have been asked to wait and be patient, while Democrats and Republicans try to use our lives and freedom as a political bargaining chip,” said Gladis Ibarra, Co-Executive Director of CIRC, in a news release. “We are tired of waiting and tired of empty promises. Through this pilgrimage we are simply asking to be treated with the same dignity and respect as those who were born here. We are demanding that our Colorado Congressional Delegation stand up for our families and support a pathway to citizenship through updating the registry law.”

The current Colorado co-sponsors of the measure include Democratic Representatives Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Brittany Pettersen.