Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Summit County Hosts Civil Rights Organization, CIRC

The first ever Colorado Immigrant's Rights Coalition annual assembly in Summit County will be held this weekend.

Roughly 25 residents from Summit County, including residents from the mountain towns of Breckenridge and Dillon, will be included in the state-wide meeting.  Over 200 people from organizations across the state of Colorado are expected to attend.

In addition to CIRC members, representatives from law enforcement will also attend the event.

The Summit County organization Unidos por la Igualdad (United for Equality) will discuss the efforts it has made in Summit County.  They will have a clinic on wage theft and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and other topics.

Summit County has come a long ways towards fostering better relations between authorities and immigrants.  In 2004, Summit County was the site of one of the worst immigrant roundups in area history.  Officials knocked on doors late at night in subdivisions occupied by immigrants.  Those who answered their doors were questioned about their immigration status, while those who refused to answer their doors were not molested.  Authorities had no warrants and simply were doing "knock and talks".  Local authorities were backed up by FBI and federal immigration authorities.

Multiple parties who answered their doors were hauled to the local jail pending identification.  Most of those who were rounded up were black.  When many of the parties detained proved to be documented, Law enforcement claimed the massive roundup and time spent detained was merely an inconvenience.  Today, law enforcement is working more closely with the immigrant community that has proven to be vital to the tourist economies.

The town of Breckenridge has historically been an activist for minority rights.  Breckenridge was created in November 1859 by General George E. Spencer. Spencer chose the name "Breckinridge" after John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, the 14th Vice President of the United States.  Spencer hoped to win support of the U.S. government and gain a post office, turning the community into an official town.  It was to be the first post office on the Western slope of Colorado between the continental divide and Salt Lake City.

However, when the civil war broke out, Spencer changed the name of the community from Breckinridge, to Breckenridge.  Vice President John C. Breckenrige was siding with the South and pro-slavery states and Spencer wanted to put distance between that divisive issue and the new town.

Today, a large percentage of the population in the ski towns are immigrants.  The early immigrants in Summit County were looking for gold.  Today, most immigrants and others depend upon the white gold of the ski industry.

Sophia Clark, CIRC Rocky Mountain region organizer, said registration is closed, and the event is at capacity, but anyone interested in getting involved in the future is encouraged to reach out to the organization.

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