As Rosa Sabido marked 1,000 days in sanctuary at the Mancos United Methodist Church, her supporters rallied in Durango in hopes of Capitol Hill offering a path to citizenship for the Mexican immigrant.
Since December, Rosa Belongs Here has gathered 2,750 signatures asking for Rep. Scott Tipton to sponsor Sabido with a private bill that would grant permanent residency.
It's possible to seek a private bill through other U.S. representatives and senators, but organizers wanted to first gather support within the Republican representative's district, which stretches across a third of Colorado and includes Mancos.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, introduced the idea for a petition alongside Sabido's attorney. Warren said fewer than 600 signatures were collected with an online petition. The rest were gathered in-person.
Jennifer Kain-Rios, who has worked as Sabido's attorney since her first stay of removal in 2011, said private bills move through Congress like any other bill. After clearing each chamber and receiving the president's signature, the recipient is granted lawful permanent residency.
Additional stays of removal were filed and approved for Sabido until May 2017. Shortly after, on June 2, she started sanctuary in Mancos. Kain-Rios said Sabido is at the end of what current U.S. immigration law allows. Entering sanctuary was the next step while they wait for the law to change or for the sponsorship of a private bill.
"Everyone knows where she is. She’s not hiding," Kain-Rios said after delivering the petition to Tipton's staff. "The community is supporting her remaining in the United States."
The march began with supporters dividing into two groups, each taking different routes and joining in front of Tipton's office. They carried string decorated with 1,000 ribbons representing each day of sanctuary. Later, they struck drums and a gong 1,000 times.
Wendolyne Omaña, an immigrant advocate involved with Rosa Belongs Here and other local organizations, led most of the rally. She said Tipton needs to take the next step.
"We need his voice. We need his privilege," Omaña said to the crowd. "If he can use it wisely, we are here to ask him to use it wisely."
A statement emailed by Liz Payne, Tipton's legislative director, said the congressman's office is unable to share specifics on Sabido's case due to privacy laws. The statement added that Sabido does not meet the criteria set by the House to consider private bills, and has told supporters to work with Sen. Michael Bennet. In the past, Rosa Belong Here members have said Bennet supports Sabido's sanctuary and work toward citizenship.
Kain-Rios is asking for Tipton to respond with a decision within 30 days. Should he reject sponsoring the bill, Kain-Rios said she hopes the process will still open a greater dialogue on immigration law in the United States. Other attendees said gathering petition signatures was valuable for spreading Sabido's story.
The rally was not without Sabido's presence, though. A recording of her voice thanking supporters was played for the crowd.
"I am hopeful," her voice carried from a small speaker. "I pray and I am waiting for that moment where the eyes of justice will turn to look at me."