First Data panelists (2004)

The audience was mostly Hispanic. The high school where the event was held is predominantly Hispanic. One European-American woman was told to her face: "You should leave. This is for us." Mike McGarry, of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, was told "Go back to Ireland."
Executive Row. Presumably First Data executives. The empty seat in front was taken by Charlie Fote.
Moderator: Former Congressman Esteban E. Torres on the left; First Data's Charlie Fote at the podium.
As the panelists were introduced, someone in the audience asked "Aren't you going to say the Pledge of Allegiance?" The moderator stuttered and hesitantly agreed.
Introducing the panelists, from left to right: Raul Hinojosa, Lisa Duran, Robert de Posada, Roberto Ramirez, Thomas A. Saenz, Juan Salgado.
First Data's Charlie Fote at the podium.
Thomas A. Saenz: "And we have found such laws - all racial laws - especially [California's] Proposition 187... we challenged that and found it was unconstitutional. (shouting against audience objections) I will not have you or anyone else tear up the Constitution of the United States!"

The panelists

"Immigration: What Reform Will Bring to Our Nation". Panelists include:

Juan Salgado, President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Executive Director of the Instituto del Progreso Latino.

Lisa Duran, director of Rights for All People, Denver.

Robert de Posada, Executive Director, The Latino Coalition.

Raúl Hinojosa, Director of Research, North American Integration and Development Center, University of California in Los Angeles.

Roberto Ramírez, Founder, The Jesús Guadalupe Foundation.

Thomas A. Sáenz, Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Moderator: former Congressman Esteban Torres.

At the end of the forum, a reception with traditional Mexican food was offered by First Data to the community.


Ricardo ?, Executive Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Coalition, in introductory speech: The purpose of this session tonight is to talk about immigration reform and anybody that is beginning to sound like a heckler will be asked to leave. (Announcement in English and Spanish: there are headsets that have the announcements translated into English and Spanish).

First Data speaker Fred Neihouse, in introductory speech: "As a company that is headquartered in Colorado, we believe that this is one of our top priorities - to reform the immigration laws of this country."

Salvador Gomez, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in introductory speech: "We are especially fortunate to have Charlie Foote leading the charge on immigration reform."

First Data Chief Executive Charlie Fote: "Tonight this panel will discuss immigration reform. Over the past year, this issue has become one of the top issues in our company and in the country. First Data and Western Union are calling upon all our leaders in the public and private sectors to get a vigorous, bipartisan debate on immigration reform that achieves three things: First, it fully realizes America's democratic values. Secondly, it recognizes the interdependence of U.S. and foreign economies. And third, it ensures that we do this in a mode that enforces our national security." (Time from just after presentation began: 7:52)

Raul Hinojosa: "There are 10 million illegal aliens in this country who need to come out... in a way that recognizes their incredible contribution to the economy... [We need] The creation of a new system where we are actually bringing in the amount of workers we need into the future... - all workers that come into this country come here on a level playing field with full rights... as they come into the country, they would have total economic rights, including access to a bank and bank accounts. (22:25)

Lisa Duran: "In short, our current policy is based on our national security framework, defined solely through fear, that defines immigration as an enforcement problem of people overstaying visas or crossing the border without permission... immigration policy that ceded to an enforcement approach that results in the criminalization of fundamentally human activities such as working, driving a car and moving to keep families together. The enforcement of American immigration policy is also tied to racist and nativist sentiments. [referring to Colorado's Matricula Consular ban]... the words immigrant and illegal, a complete and fundamental misnomer." (30:00)

Roberto de Posada: "The system is broken itself, we are not protecting U.S. workers or Latino workers... What we need to focus on is to make sure that our enforcement mechanisms are not looking at people who are crossing the border to find a job and to focus our attention on criminals, smugglers, drug runners... We really need to focus on what is good for the country." (39.20)

Roberto Ramirez: "I was undocumented for 13 years... my mother brought us here - all nine children... I have my own business... and my people are honest workers... just an opportunity, that's all we need... and the business sector has to be involved." (44:05)

Thomas A. Saenz: "And we have found such laws - all racial laws - especially [California's] Proposition 187... we challenged that and found it was unconstitutional. (shouting against audience objections) I will not have you or anyone else tear up the Constitution of the United States!" (55:47)
We need to address the presence of large numbers of people who have people who... live in the shadows and do not share the rights of others. We need to have a legalization program to reflect our values, including the centrality of family unification... We need to have national enforcement priorities for immigration systems. Currently in California, thousands and thousands of people live in fear because of widespread Border Patrol sweeps. I believe this kind of enforcement activity is not consistent with our values... I believe it is critical that comprehensive immigration reform includes a national principle of non-discrimination against people on the basis of immigration status." (59:43)

Juan Saldago, in response to a question from the audience to please define illegal alien: "I was taught that this is God's land and no one is illegal on God's land." (1:13:00)

Mike McGarry of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (allowed to speak for two minutes, 50 minutes into the event): "I think this panel is racially and ethnically cleansed, it's one side of the issue... and does not represent the immigration perspective of most Americans! This panel is composed along ethnic, racial and class lines and this presentation is a sham." (