DENVER (AP) – About 200 people turned out in Denver to rally for immigration reform despite some wet spring snow.

The rally kicked off Wednesday morning at the state Capitol, and featured speeches from advocacy and labor group leaders and state legislators, including Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, Rep. Crisanta Duran and Rep. Joe Salazar.

As the group marched southwest from the Capitol, drivers passing by honked and waved in support.

Though the snow might have kept some people away – organizers said the crowd was definitely smaller than last year’s – the group that marched was undeterred by the conditions. Marchers chanted the whole way, shouting refrains like, “The people, united, will never be divided.”

“I know the Latino people do it whether it’s thunderstorms or snow or anything,” said Claudia Esquivel of Boulder, who spoke at the rally at Sunken Garden Park after the march. “Nothing can stop us.”

Naykary Silva, a 26-year-old mother from Mexico who is in the country illegally, said she marched Wednesday because she has a 3-year-old son with autism who needs health care, and she wants to be part of the movement working to make that a possibility. The wintry weather, she said, never made her doubt her decision to march.

“If you want to do something, you do it no matter what,” Silva said. “There’s still more work to do.”

Most attendees seemed to agree that there is still progress to be made, though most also were pleased that the Colorado Legislature this spring passed a bill allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

Esquivel told the crowd at Sunken Garden Park, nicknamed Citizenship Park for the day, that they must still push for change.

“We need to remind our senators we voted for them, and they need to work for us,” Esquivel said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The biggest change she, and most others, wants to see is a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.

“I would like the rest of our people to become residents,” said Esquivel, who is a citizen. “I don’t want families to be separated, don’t want people to be living in fear.”

Carrying a Mexican flag as he marched, Antonio Moreno said although he is a citizen, he thinks it’s important to fight for the rights of other members of the Latino community.

“I have solidarity with them,” Moreno said. “We are all one people, and we all should have civil rights.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected to rally in dozens of cities in what has become an annual cry for easing the nation’s immigration laws.

The May Day rallies carry a special sense of urgency this year, two weeks after a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would bring many of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows. One Denver participant carried a sign that read “11 million out of the shadows (equals) $1.5 billion into the economy.”

– By ALEXANDRA TILSLEY, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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