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Colorado Springs councilman, advocate trade barbs over Immigrant Heritage Month proclamation

June 13, 2018 Updated: June 13, 2018 at 9:37 pm
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photo - FILE - A Naturalization Ceremony for 31 citizenship candidates from 21 countries, who took the oath of allegiance to become U. S. citizens, was held at PPLD 21c Thursday morning, July 7, 2016.
Carol Lawrence, The Gazette
FILE - A Naturalization Ceremony for 31 citizenship candidates from 21 countries, who took the oath of allegiance to become U. S. citizens, was held at PPLD 21c Thursday morning, July 7, 2016. Carol Lawrence, The Gazette 

The Colorado Springs City Council passed a proclamation Tuesday afternoon declaring June as Immigrant Heritage Month, which one advocate said didn't go far enough.

"I hope this is not just for show when our immigrant communities are currently under attack from the current federal administration down to our Sheriff's Office," resident Jerima King said, referring to President Donald Trump calling immigrants "animals" and El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder's willingness to detain suspected undocumented immigrants at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

King asked the council to make Colorado Springs a sanctuary city, a city that designs policies to lessen the fear of deportation or family breakups for undocumented immigrants.

"We need to protect our residents," King said. "We need to stand with hardworking people who want a better life for themselves and their families. We need to protect families regardless of whether they are citizens or not."

Following King's statements, councilman Andy Pico said there is a substantial difference between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, but he felt the proclamation was on target for supporting the city's legal immigrant population.

Pico proposed a resolution voicing his opposition to allow Syrian refugees to move to Colorado Springs in March 2016 because, he said, he objected to allowing people in the city if they did not go through adequate screening.

"Illegal immigration is not the same," Pico said. "I'm not against immigrants or against refugees. I have (relatives) who are legal immigrants, so the idea that I'm anti-immigrant is disrespectful."

Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, who introduced the proclamation, said it intends to recognize the contributions made by immigrants to the city.

"Very few (immigrants) may have taken from our country," Avila said. "But the vast majority have brought so much to this country."

King, who lives in the district Pico represents, said she disagreed with Pico's statement's on the proclamation.

"(Pico) is a horrible representation of (a) descendant of immigrants," King said. "(The system) makes us weak by forcing us to break into different groups, when we should all be immigrants supporting immigrants."

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