Grand Junction couple jumps into the immigrant rights battle

GRAND JUNCTION — Estrella Ruiz and Alejandro Solis are tired of living with the constant threat that their family could be split apart because immigration policy isn’t changing. So they are leaving their three children behind this week and traveling to Washington, DC to take part in a demonstration — and likely to get arrested.

The Grand Junction couple has never participated in an act of civil disobedience before, but they raised their hands recently when an immigrant rights group asked for volunteers. Then they explained to their children why they were taking part in what is being called the largest act of vicil disobedience in the current immigrant rights movement.

“Our focus is for Obama to see all of us there and to act,” said Ruiz. “We are not worried. We are not going to be alone.”

About 300 people — four of them from Colorado — are converging on the capital from across the country to march in front of Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters and on to the White House where they plan to sit down in the street and refuse to leave.

The march has been organized by immigrant rights groups from around the country, including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. The march is an attempt to push President Obama to take executive action to reform immigration because Congress has failed to act on any reforms that Obama had promised when he took office.

Ruiz has been able to take advantage of one Obama administration change, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. She was brought to the United States as a child and has lived most of her 30 years here.

She is attending college and has been very involved in the Grand Junction community as a small business owner, a PTA president and a parent volunteer at her daughters’ schools.

Solis, 36, grew up in Mexico but crossed the border every day to attend school in the United States. He moved to the United States in 1994 and his father, who was a legal resident in this country, applied for citizenship for his son in 1997.

Solis, a construction worker, has been attempting through all the proper legal channels to become a citizen since then. He is too old to gain legal status through the Deferred Action law that helped his wife.

“I have been waiting 17 years for my visa. I have been trying to do it right. I have been trying to do it legally,” he said.

Solis said his frustration with that is why he agreed to join his wife at the sit-in outside the White House.

Solis and Ruiz will be joined by Esmeralda Dominguez, who has been fighting for three years to gain legal status for her husband. He has been denied because of a clerical error.

Jeanette Vizguerra is also going. She has been fighting deportation for five years since she was pulled over for driving without a license.

“We expect all 300 to get arrested,” said Victor Galvan, a Western Slope representative of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

For Ruiz and Solis that represents quite a change from their previous plans for Thursday. It is Solis’s 36th birthday that day and they had hoped to go to Moab to sky dive.

“I guess we’re actually jumping into something else,” Solis said.

Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957, or

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Grand Junction couple jumps into the immigrant rights battle
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