BOULDER, Colo. — Latino leaders and allies from across Colorado rallied outside of the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, calling for an end to anti-immigrant rhetoric in the campaign.
The rally launched the “My Country, My Vote” movement in Colorado, which also aims to register more Latino voters.
“Our message must be loud and it must be clear,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said as he spoke to a crowd of several hundred supporters. “Immigrants are not the enemy, ignorance is.”
There was a reason why Garcia and other Latino leaders chose to kick off the “My Country, My Vote” movement outside the GOP debate.
“So many parts of our country, so many parts of our community have been attacked by this negative rhetoric,” said former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, who helped organize the rally.
For many in attendance, the most hurtful rhetoric has come from Donald Trump.
“We’re not criminals, we’re not rapists,” said Marco Dorado, a dreamer and University of Colorado graduate. “We’re actually contributing members to our society.”
For some, the rally was about sharing those contributions.
“I’m an immigrant. I came to the United States 16 years ago,” America Carbajal said. “I’m a worker and now I’m a business owner, and I fought for this country just as much as a U.S. citizen.”
For others, attending the rally was about standing together.
“We’re an interracial couple,” said Kyle Mullica, who came with his wife Julie and two young children. “We wanted to show some solidarity and say that we support them.”
That support became clear at the voter registration table. Organizers with Mi Familia Vota said the hurtful words spoken by some candidates might end up helping the Latino community.
“We have seen in the past then when our community feels under attack we definitely turn out to vote,” said Carla Castedo, with Mi Familia Vota. “It’s been helpful to mobilize people.”
Mobilizing people is what organizers hope to do. The rally is meant to launch the “My Country, My Vote” movement across the state.