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Hispanic Affairs Project

With you, we are making Western Colorado communities to be places where immigrants actively contribute for a more just and equitable society. Our Programs: Immigration Legal Assistance Migrant Outreach Combating Human Trafficking Leadership Development Pro-immigrant Policies Community Resource

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Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Prevention

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Crime/Abuse Victims
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Families
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Migrant Workers

Description

Community outreach and education in the prevention of any form of violence affecting immigrant families living and working in rural areas across western Colorado.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

HAP members recommended this program after identifying that a high incidence of contact of law enforcement with immigrant neighborhoods are due to cases of domestic violence. Under any circumstance, HAP is supporting victims of crime to collaborate with the law enforcement, meanwhile the victim receives assistance for legal protection in collaboration with key social services agencies.

Pro Immigrant Policies

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Families
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Migrant Workers
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Migrant Workers

Description

Organize the immigrant and non-immigrant base to strength the Immigrant Rights movement by advancing state and federal policies on the regional level that have a positive impact on minority groups in Colorado.
Our strategy is coordinate activities with Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) that support ongoing priority campaigns elected by our community groups. In 2017 those priorities are: 1) Detainer Reform; 2) Driver's License, and 3) Federal Immigration Reform/Administrative Relief programs (DACA Expansion).
One specific policy proposal for HAP is to improve the labor conditions for all H2-A range workers (Sheepherders) in U.S.A. The lack of federal regulation in this rural industry, uphold the cycle of labor abuses considered labor trafficking in any other industrial country around the world.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Advancing in Labor Rights for H2-A foreign Ranch Workers: Hundreds of workers are heard in Federal Court.
The Chief Judge B. Howell has accepted the standing of our suit in the name of the H2A-sheep herders showing that the DOL and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) arbitrarily created a permanent foreign labor force without the approval of the Congress. This allowed the sheep industry to establish their own regulations, outside federal standards that apply to entire industry with foreign temporary workers.
Now, workers who are members of HAP and hundreds of others who work in at least 15 States, can be heard in a federal court: Hispanic Affairs Project, et to the. v. Perez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122181, 2016 WL 4734350 (D.D.C. Sept. 9, 2016).
In 2010, HAP with other organizations tried to introduce a bill
for State law and were not successful; in 2015 we won in Federal Court in our suit for a wage increase, and now we hope that the sheep herders are included in a labor system that respects their rights and their dignity as human beings.

Combating Human Trafficking

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Crime/Abuse Victims
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - Other Specified
Hispanics
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Migrant Workers

Description

Educate the immigrant and refugee communities to prevent cases of Human Trafficking, especially labor trafficking cases identified in rural areas in western Colorado. HAP is constantly helping potential victims of HT and is expanding the collaboration with law enforcement, social services agencies, and elected officials to achieve state and federal policies to eradicate this problem in USA.
HAP is organization member of the Western Slope Anti Trafficking, WSAT. HAP's board president is also member of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council and the Colorado Human Trafficking Advisory Board.
The WSAT have a Strategic Plan for 2016-218 including Community Outreach, Policy, Member Education and Capacity Building.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

HAP is recognized by the law enforcement and other federal agencies working on human trafficking in western Colorado. Several cases of trafficking, especially on labor trafficking were identified for HAP; and right now, the organization is training leaders to facilitate informative sessions and training to other community members, focus on female migrants.

Member of HAP receives CCASA 2017 Innovative Practices Award:
On June 13, Tom Acker, HAP board President was recognized by Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault ( CCASA) for "developing and Implementing innovative programming or practices related to sexual violence intervention and preven- tion". Tom was recognized for his innovative work within the Hispanic community in western Colorado.
The recognition was awarded to him publicly at CCASA's annual Colorado Advocacy in Action Conference Awards Ceremony , which took place in Vail, CO.
Tom Acker was instrumental building the HAP's Human Trafficking Program, which focus in labor trafficking prevention, especially among migrant workers with H-2A visa. Currently, Tom is a member of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council, statewide entity appointed by the Governor as described in statute (HB14-1273) to advocate for policies that enhance human trafficking prevention in Colorado.

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Weak legislation regulating the sheep industry in Colorado has led to decades of abuse for sheepherders, that could be considered human trafficking by any UN member nation.
Montrose, July 7, 2013/First sheepherder:
- How long have you been working as a sheepherder?
Eight months. This is my first contract.
- What was your first impression of the U.S. when you arrived?
Very different from what I expected. I arrived at the Montrose airport at about 2:30 p.m. My boss picked me up, took my documents, and took me to his ranch. By 5 p.m., I was already working.
- Are you saying that you don't have any identifying documents in your wallet?
That's right. He took my passport and my work permit. That's how they do it. One of my coworkers had his documents returned only after working for a year and a half.
- Why do you think they do that?
Maybe they think we're going to escape.
- How did you open a bank account?
I don't have a bank account. My boss has all my money. He sends money to my family every month. It's like I'm undocumented here! (He laughs.)
Second Sheepherder:
- What would you like to change about your contract or the treatment you receive as a sheepherder?
I would like to have some freedom. It would be a great help to welcome any visitors we would like. The boss doesn't like us to have any visitors. And when someone comes to visit us, like you, we're afraid that our boss will find out. Sometimes they ask if anyone has come to visit. We tell him, "no," so that he doesn't get angry. It would also be good if we could at least have two days off each month. It would make a huge difference in our lives here to be able to go into town and buy what we would like, go to the Laundromat, or eat in a restaurant, because we're always at work, caring for the sheep.
- Has your boss ever offered you a day off?
Never! We're always expecting him to show up and ask us to do a job, including Sundays. If he said to us, "Tomorrow is your day off," it would be a huge change for us because we could rest and be calm.
- Does your contract mention days off? The contract that we signed said that we should be willing to work every day and to go wherever the boss tells us to go.
- Has your boss ever taken you to a store?
No. He says that we don't have any reason to go to the store, and that we shouldn't spend money. He says we should save it. He shouldn't prohibit us from spending because it's our money. It's not like we're asking him to spend his money.
- And how do you get your food?
The boss brings it to us. Each sheepherder makes a list. I think that's why he doesn't want us to go to the store; maybe we'll see a different type of food and then we'll ask for it and then he'll have to say, "no," because it's too expensive and business is very bad right now.

Grave human rights violations are happening right in our backyard and HAP dedicates efforts to visit range workers in the most desolate and isolated regions of the west.

Leadership Development & Advocacy

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Families
Hispanics
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

Further develop the voice of the immigrant community by strengthening leadership capacity through local organizing
The strategy is strengthening the local Hispanic Committees (Grand Junction, Montrose and Gunnison) by providing leadership development, community organizing, resources and capacity-building. This program includes also community education, implementing pro-immigrant policies, and immigrant integration initiatives in collaboration with many other organizations and agencies in the region.
As a grassroots organization, HAP invest in governing capacity and institutional sustainability by providing skills training for the regional assembly, local committees and community leaders.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

New Generation of Leaders:
Recently, 4 young people participated in one of the annual events organized by the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado (LCFC), one of the organizations that has supported the work of HAP for several years. Carla Hernandez from Olathe, Cynthia and Evelyn Luna de Montrose, and Wonder Wachara, an immigrant from Africa that studies at CMU Grand Junction, participated in the first training focused on young Latina women this past June 10th.
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"Latinas LEAD was a great experience. I got the opportunity to meet many other Latinas who want to have an important impact in our community. After listening to Prisca I learned that it's okay to be a Latina and have big dreams. Overall, attending Latinas LEAD was one of the best experience I have had. Thank you HAP for this amazing opportunity to improve my skills": Carla Hernandez.

A Community with Great Leaders:
My name is Crystal Ruiz, I am 23 years old, and I was born in Nampa, Idaho. My dad is from Sonora, Mexico and came to United States at the age of 14. My mom is from Pharr, Texas. When I was little I moved around a lot, from Mexico to Texas back to Idaho and then I finally stayed in Colorado.
I attended Colorado Mesa University and received my bachelors in criminal justice December of 2016. I decided to study criminal justice because when I was growing up I looked at the people around me and there was no one I could relate to that was a police officer or in the criminal justice field. For that reason I decided to go into this field in hopes of encouraging more people to go into it as well or feel better about approaching people in this field.
I got involved with HAP my last semester of college, hoping to get involved with LELA (law enforcement latino alliance). I went to the first committee meeting and that's where my involvement with HAP really began. From HAP I have learned so much on topics I knew nothing about and how certain things will affect a lot of people. This organization has certainly opened my mind and my heart to want to help and be very involved. I encourage more people to get involved in organizations that are making a difference.
We are facing many challenges as immigrants. The experiences of racism I have encountered were comments made by other students in school when I was younger and a few as I got older. It was always some comments about "Mexicans". Over the years I have learned that no matter what comments some people make there is no reason to stoop down to their level. We are here to make a difference.
HAP newsletter July 2017

Immigration Legal Assistance

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Hispanics
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Migrant Workers
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

In April 2015 HAP received the accreditation from the U.S. Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to assist with family-based immigration application including work permit, residency renewal and U.S. citizenship. The Department of Justice grant non-profit organization to support low income families in need for immigration legal representation in rural places with not such services, or places without enough immigration attorneys.

Currently, the organization is focus in supporting youth and young adults who qualified for work permit under the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA), and assisting permanent residents to become U.S. Citizenship by Naturalization.
HAP is the only organization in western Colorado providing immigration legal assistance under the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Access Program (OLAP).

In 2019 HAP joined the New Americans Campaign to increase the number of eligible Legal Permanent Residents applying for US citizenship.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

The Impact of Our Immigration Legal Asssitance:
At the end of 2016, HAP has generated a savings of $125.775 by providing legal representation to low- income households in western Colorado.
The main services have been in legal consultations, citizenship applications, residency renewals and work permits for young people qualified for the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program. That amount does not include the cost of education through community outreach to explain the immigration system and fraud prevention in immigration. HAP is the only agency authorized by the Department of Justice to provide legal assistance in immigration
in the western region of Colorado, under the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Office. BIA-DOJ assists organizations like HAP to supplement the lack of immigration attorneys in rural areas or to help low income families.
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The success of the program has been to integrate legal representation, with community education about the immigration system and advocacy for an improved system of immigration.
In 2015, HAP contributed to passing the law against notary fraud who, without authorization and charging high fees have been "assisting" families and causing many people to lose their opportunity to gain legal migratory status in this country.
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Our Immigration Legal Assistance in Numbers:
Last April 15, our program turned two years old. That is the date when the Department of Justice authorized HAP to represent families before the USCIS and help them navigate the immigration system.
In the past 12 months we have assisted with:
- 290 legal consultations.
-50 applications for citizenship by naturalization. -60 applications for work permits focusing on youth (DACA).
- 15 renewals of permanent residency.
-14 cases of family petitions.
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"Although the program operates with limited resources, we have done the best we could to help more families and we have seen the positive impact on all of them. Legal assistance includes community education to understand the legal system and its institutions; also, the prevention of immigration fraud. However, many families have benefited from our program. Immigration status means family unity, economic and social development and it is a great responsibility that we are complying with fully. We are in a phase of growth, and we are ready to assist more families at
low or no cost, depending on their income," said Ricardo Pérez, executive director of HAP.

Community Resource Center

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

General Public
Hispanics
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Families
Migrant Workers

Description

HAP provide assistance to families and individuals looking for information regarding with labor, legal, housing, education, health matters and/or other social services in the region.
First generation immigrant families frequently need information preferable in their native language; at the same time, Western Colorado receive hundreds of migrant workers during the agriculture season, and HAP members support in outreach and distribution about labor rights, food, clothing, etc.
HAP office in Montrose and Grand Junction are places to go, not only for immigrants but also for Human Services agencies reaching out minority groups. Also, through our local committees, HAP has a link of individuals in each community who are able to support families in need.
HAP members assist families/individuals across the region, but some times are traveling in Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming to help workers, specially in rural industries.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Migrant Outreach Program: More Abuses to H-2A Workers:
My name is Hernan Huaman. I have come to work each year since 2003 with the H-2A visa. My salary has been $1,042 a month, working at least 53 hours a week (even though my pay stub says that I only work 43 hours per week). Well, I work with cows in a company with several ranches in Ridgeway and Telluride. Recently, I got sick and my boss tried to send me to Peru to get medical treatment there, but, because of the urgent need I was hospitalized in Montrose and had a surgery done there. I have already been told that the boss has bought [me] a ticket to leave this Saturday, and I believe that I will never have the opportunity to return to the United States to work. This worries me because I am leaving with a debt with the hospital, because the insurance from the ranch only covers for an accident on the job. I don't think the way visas work is fair. The employer is not liable, nor is the worker able to pay for medical insurance with this salary. I think the employers should provide medical insurance to their employees, if they really need us. I am asking for help to investigate what is going on in
these ranches. There are two workers [that have been here] only for three weeks and up to today they have not received one day off. Even though the contract states that we will get tools to carry out our jobs, we 've been working without gloves. They've given us some ATV's to travel between ranches, and recently, two Peruvians were driving an ATV in the mountains without brakes. If something were to happen to them, the boss is ready to put them on the plane and take them out of the country without assuming any of the responsibility.
I want to thank my friends at HAP that visited me in the hospital and gave me legal advice. I will always be thankful to you because you didn't abandon me.
HAP newsletter July 2017.

Welcoming Colorado Initiative

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
General Public
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Migrant Workers

Description

Welcoming Colorado initiative focuses on community education and relationship-building between immigrant and non-immigrant communities with the aim of strengthening mutual respect and understanding. HAP members participate in the Grand Junction Welcoming Colorado Committee, train immigrants about how to talk about Welcoming to community members and help organize community events such as dialogue activities, film presentations and other integration activities.
Most recently this program focus in stronger relationship with governmental entities and local agencies to introduce immigrant friendly policies and practices than recognized the cultural diversity on the region.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

First graduation of the Latino Citizen Police Academy:
Under the direction of the Grand Junction Police Department, 26 members of our community received their certificate of participation in the first Citizen's Police Academy on May 23. Other counties in Colorado have had a similar experience, but this one is the most successful one. It is the result of a strong police- immigrant community partnership to improve public safety. In 2014, HAP, law enforcement agencies and the Police Departments' leaders created the Law Enforcement Latin Alliance (LELA), as a space for better communication between the police and minority groups.
"One of the objectives is to ensure that minority groups also have access to the resources and pro- grams that have existed for many years for the established community. Having concluded this program in Spanish is an achievement, and now Grand Junction is a model for other communities", said Estrella Ruiz, community organizer of HAP.Joel Flores, a HAP board member, said "We are greatly appreciative of the Chief of Police and all the county's law enforcement agencies; also the District Attorney, for their dedication in protecting the constitutional rights of all its residents. These activities elevate the participation of immigrants as an important part of the society and also help our public institutions in carrying out their mission."

Migrant Outreach

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Hispanics
Male Adults
Migrant Workers
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged

Description

HAP is expanding its capacity to support the rural and migrant population, and many new cases of human rights violations and labor abuses are emerging from this sector. The HAP office has developed into a resource center for families looking for information about legal assistance for wage theft, labor rights and other labor-related issues. More specifically, on September 9, 2016 the Chief Judge of the U.S. Federal District Court in Washington, DC validated HAP's arguments to protect the labor rights of H2A-visa sheepherders and accepted to proceed with our challenge against the DOL for lack of compliance with the current federal regulation.
Our strategy is to advocate for H2A-visa range worker rights through public education, earned media, and conducting the research needed to expand campaign/policy outcomes; Continue lawsuit in the federal court system against the U.S. Department of Labor to bring current regulations up to federal standards.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Labor Rights Victory for H2A Range Workers:
After receiving pressure from HAP in a federal court, the Department of Labor (DOL) hastened to increase the salary of the H2A workers in the sheep herding industry.
As of November 16, more than 1,600 workers in Colorado and other states, achieved an increase in salary after 50 years of receiving an income of $750 a month. This increase, although it does not reach the Federal salary requirements for all foreign workers in any industry in the United States, adds about $8,755,200 to the overall annual pay.
The DOL has the responsibility to periodically review the salaries in all industries, however, because of a lack of public participation and opinion, and that of the workers themselves, the DOL continued with the same regulations over the last 50 years.
Ricardo Perez from HAP said, "Considering that the migrant workers of H2A can spend the rest of their working lives without collecting benefits, any improvement to their work conditions, such as salary, nourishment, health, and housing, is critical." He also stated that "we are a small organization with limited resources, but we have had the capacity to make a positive impact in their lives, not only in the western region of Colorado, but in various states. Our migrant outreach program has documented many of the workers problems
and we were able to show that to the public. Our mission is to promote justice and bring hope to our brothers. They themselves have said that the hardest part about working
here is the solitude, and that our visits and words of encouragement are of great significance to them. There is still much to do so the workers may have work under better conditions, and may be treated with respect."
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"My name is Manuel and I am calling from Wyoming. My coworkers and I have heard the news that the salary of the sheep herders has increased this month (November 2015) and I am calling to thank you for doing that favor for us. I have been working for 9 years with that salary and I never thought I would get an increase. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping us."-message from a worker to the HAP team.
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On that same ranch there is a 67 year old
who has worked there for 34 years with the H2A visa. Because of his age, he has decided to return to Peru. Although he has worked for so many years in this country, the lack of an adequate salary and lack of benefits, he returns to his country to live in poverty.
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"Life in Peru is not cheap, like people
may believe. 750 dollars here is the same as it is there. And with that amount we are not able to save any money."-quote from a worker interviewed by PBS.

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