The Other Denver: Hispanics Haunted by Specter of Deportation

El Diario/La Prensa, News Report, By Carmen Alarcón, Translated by Elena Shore Posted: Aug 27, 2008

Editor's Note: Just seven miles from the Democratic National Convention, Hispanics in Denver are living a very different reality. Since Denver passed a city ordinance that allows police to confiscate the car of anyone suspected of being undocumented, Hispanics say they are afraid to drive downtown, let alone attend the DNC. Carmen Alarcón reports for New York's Spanish-language newspaper El Diario/La Prensa.

DENVER, Colo. -- While members of the Democratic Party are gathered in the Pepsi Center to support Senator Barack Obama as the party’s nominee in the presidential campaign, Mexicans working just seven miles away, on Federal Boulevard, are living a very different reality.

Luis Carlos Ruiz, owner of the auto shop Transmissions Ruiz, says that even though he is leaning toward Obama because of his position on immigration, Denver’s immigrant community has been greatly affected by local ordinances that attack the undocumented.

"Now, if you're driving without a license, they’ll take your car and you have no way of getting it back without papers," says Ruiz.

Sergio Carvajal has lived in Denver for 10 years. He likes the city but says the community has felt the effects of the convention and the large police presence.

"People are intimidated. We're not used to seeing so many police on the street," says Carvajal, "especially now with the problem of undocumented and driver's licenses."

On Aug. 12 Denver county passed an ordinance that allows authorities to confiscate a car if the driver doesn’t have a driver’s license, or if authorities suspect that he or she is undocumented.

David Broadwell, an attorney for the city of Denver, says the policy to tow a car if the driver doesn’t have a license is an old ordinance. What’s new is the clause that allows authorities to confiscate the car based on the suspicion that the driver is in the country illegally.

"This is a law in Denver. However, it's under legal review to figure out how to implement it. We have not given the city permission to implement it," says Broadwell.

Until yesterday, the immigration issue hadn’t even been mentioned at the Democratic National Convention, even though in the six counties surrounding Denver (Boulder, Broomfield, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson), there are 561,801 Hispanics. This represents 21 percent of the population of the Denver metropolitan area, according to a study conducted by Corona Research for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

For residents and workers along the 30 blocks of Federal Boulevard, driving to the convention is simply not an option.

"Imagine, they only approved this (ordinance) a month ago, and now with all the police, we can’t even go downtown," says a flea market vendor who spoke on condition of anonymity. But she says she likes Obama because she sees in him hope for her own immigration situation.

Related Articles:

Focusing on Immigration at the DNC

Immigration Not a Popular Topic at Democratic Convention

Immigration: Too Hot for DNC?

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User Comments

Frank Middleton on Aug 31, 2008 at 17:22:45 said:

It doesn't really matter whether they make this shine or that shine, whether they are hard working or not working. Now watch my lips so you understand "THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY". I will type a little slower so you can read the comment "THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY"
Another thing you ,and many like you, continue to avoid mentioning, Your country of Mexico has the following laws concerning "illegal Aliens"; 1.) There will be no special bilingual programs in school. 2) All ballots will be in mexico's language. 3)All government business will be conducted in the mexican language. 4) Non-residents will not have the right to vote no matter how long they are here. 5) Non-citizens will never be able to hold political office. 6)Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers, No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will be deported. 7) Foreigners can invest in mexico, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage. 8) If foreigners come here to buy land... Options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into mexico. 9) Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waiving of a foreign nation, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing the mexican president or his policy. These will lead to deportation. 10) If you come to mexico as an "invader/illegal", you will be actively hunted, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you.

That's how your country views "invaders/illegals". I believe America should also implement mexico's laws.


Randy Erb on Aug 31, 2008 at 17:12:38 said:

Since my ancestors came here and founded this country, I have to say that they were NOT illegal since they PAID for their land that they were using. I guess you never got US history in school, where you would have learned that the Dutch paid the natives $24 for Manhattan. The English stole it from the Dutch by the way. Think the Dutch should get it back?
I might also remind folks that my ancestors came here with their families. The Spanish came to steal, murder, and plunder the people since they were a MILITARY force and expedition. The natives granted permission for my ancestors to be here, so thus, they were LEGAL immigrants. Of course, they had no legal codes that were written, but it functioned as a legal immigration. The places where the natives were not so friendly, the settlers stayed away, or they were killed off. Think we should now do what the Native Americans did to those who they considered illegal immigrants? They did not deport them, they simply killed them on the spot!

David Ross on Aug 28, 2008 at 18:39:05 said:

These mexicans complain about they can not drive without a license HELLO!!. That happens here, Asia, Europe and everywhere. They like Obama because they think he will fix their situation, I would like to see them when they have to pay taxes or when they have to take classes to speak english. They will not do it, they think Mexican way is working and the reality says otherwise. They got a go, not today, not tomorrow. YESTERDAY

MdeG on Aug 28, 2008 at 09:45:46 said:

Dear me. With manners like these, no wonder people don't feel like speaking English to you! I might not either.

Really, my own folks were all pretty much undocumented -- invaders on Native American's land, and pre-Ellis Island. I take NA's point, but have personally no place to go back to.

The article's right: There are different realities in this country. It's good to remind ourselves of that.

As to who deserves deportation, I'd say I'm not a whole lot in favor of capital-letter shouting on any side. It doesn't help us to hear each other.

Native American on Aug 28, 2008 at 06:59:43 said:

Hey American Born, I am NATIVE AMERICAN THIS IS MY COUNTY, Why don\\\'t we round you up and throw you out of MY COUNTY, YOU ARE ILLEGAL HERE.

American Born on Aug 27, 2008 at 14:46:39 said:





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