First-ever D.C. Latino Advocacy Day delivers access to Senators and lessons in advocacy
Updated: May 26, 2022
Last week, 15 leaders from Colorado traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in our first-ever Latino Advocacy Day (LAD) event at the federal level. This was a joint effort by Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund.
The trip was a continuation of our 2022 LAD programming, which started in Denver in March with a multi-day event that drew 300-plus people to advocate at the state capitol — with more than half of those coming from outside the Denver-metro area, including 70 leaders from the Western Slope.
For the D.C. trip, Voces Unidas recruited voices from people who lived in the communities where we work in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties in order to expose them to advocacy work as part of their leadership journeys. Leaders included former Roaring Fork Valley resident and current Voces Unidas board member Claudia Fragoso; Fernando Almanza of Gypsum; Claudia Delgado of Rifle; Alan Muñoz of Rifle; and Dulce Ortiz of Aspen.
The visit also provided an opportunity for us to continue with our Latino Policy Agenda work with our partners at the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and COLOR Action Fund. We were also joined by representatives from Servicios de la Raza, Servicios Sigue, and the Latino Coalition of Weld County.
This was the first visit to the nation’s capital for many participants, so touring landmarks and museums was embedded into the curriculum. Leaders toured the Capitol (thanks to staff from the offices of Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper) and were able schedule a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The latter was particularly enlightening, as the group was able to experience and see how policy can turn into genocide — and how propaganda and populist movements can be used to target specific groups of people.
On Monday, May 9, the group met in-person with Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper in their D.C. offices. Each of the 15 leaders had an ask of the Senators around policy issues or solutions, including:
Leadership and action on comprehensive immigration reform and addressing legal protections and a path to citizenship for the 11 million-plus people who are in the country without legal status;
Opposing the bill Sponsored by Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema that would delay the end of Title 42, which is the public-health rule that was inappropriately used by the Trump Administration to turn away refugees and asylum seekers at the border;
Asking for leadership and support to pass the American Dream and Promise Act - the new version of the Dream Act;
Leadership around access to health care services for all Coloradans to include individuals who don’t currently have access through employer or because of their status;
Finding a solution to ensure that Coloradans have access to government IDs, regardless of immigration status, that allows families to thrive in our communities;
Addressing the impact of climate change on people of color and ensuring that environmental justice provisions are front and center in future policies; and
Providing more federal funding to community-based organizations that are providing culturally-based services — especially in the areas of human services and mental health;
The group also attempted to meet with the Representatives whose districts currently cover the Western Slope. Rep. Joe Neguse’s office has not resumed in-person meetings and Rep. Boebert’s office declined our meeting request.
The D.C. trip to advocate for federal policies will be a part of our annual LAD efforts moving forward. Events like these — whether held in D.C., Denver or at the local level — are the critical points of entry to doing our civic duty in advocating for policies, getting a sense of ownership in the process, and understanding the role we all play.