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As Congress tried to make a deal on immigration reform Wednesday, Utah Latino leaders compromised on how to support legislation in favor of undocumented residents.
Organizers of a pro-immigration march in Salt Lake City had set an April 9 date. But some Latinos said they weren't asked about the timing and wanted to rally on April 10 to coincide with planned demonstrations nationwide.
It took an emergency meeting Wednesday for eight Latino leaders to reach a compromise: They will go ahead with the April 9 march and hold a rally the next day.
Tony Yapias, who initiated the April 9 march, said he met with Utah Hispanic/Latino Legislative Task Force members to talk about concerns about the date. Some people, mostly Mormons, didn't want to march on April 9 - a Sunday - because of religious beliefs, Yapias said. Others wanted to march on April 10 with the rest of the country.
Yapias, coordinator of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said the Latino advocacy group picked April 9 to allow travel time for supporters coming from throughout the state and for those who can't take time off from work or school.
"Now, we're talking as one," he said. "The unity is there now."
Dale Bills, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman, said in a statement that the nearly 13-million member church "has taken no position regarding proposed federal immigration legislation. Church members may express their views on the matter as they see fit."
Michael Clra, a task force member, said he was in favor of an April 10 march because it was the day of the nationwide movement. Clra also said Yapias should have contacted more Latino groups to get a consensus on a march date. Now, Clra said he's going to participate in both events.
"The beauty of this is we live in a country where we can do this and not get shot in the street," he said.
The Utah Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, plans to demonstrate across the street from the pro-immigration march and rally, said a group spokesman.
Many people said they don't care what or when pro-immigrations events are scheduled in Utah because they'll be there.
"I'll be there regardless - anywhere, any day," said Araueni Olivares, a 26-year-old West Valley City resident.
Antonella Romero Packard, a Saratoga Springs resident and Honduras Maya de Utah member, said she's excited about attending the march and rally because the community has ignored the immigration issue for too long.
"We should be unified in this effort," said Packard, who moved from Honduras to the United States 20 years ago. "We need to show we're a vibrant part of the state, and we're here."
The purpose of the events is to show solidarity among Latinos - citizens or not - across the country who are in support of immigration reform to protect the 11 million undocumented residents in the United States, Yapias said. Roughly 90,000 undocumented residents live in Utah, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Congress needs to agree on a guest-worker program with a way to keep families together as well as a law to allow undocumented students nationwide to get in-state college tuition and proper documentation, Yapias said.
The April 9 "Dignity March" to the State Capitol is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m., starting and ending at the City-County Building in downtown Salt Lake City. The April 10 "Unity Rally" is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., also at the City-County Building.
Similar marches are being organized around April 10 in Texas, Colorado and California.
Carmen Zamora, an El Paso resident who will march on April 10 in her city, said she's glad to hear Latinos nationwide are uniting.
"We all need each other," she said in a phone interview from her home. "No matter who you are or where you come from."