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Javier Pineda knows how resort towns work – the long hours, demanding labor and intense pressure during peak seasons. He grew up in Patzcuaro, Mexico, another tourist area and home to the Dia de los Muertos celebration made famous in the States by the Disney Pixar movie Coco.
But ever since he was 12, the 25-year-old Pineda has called Summit County, Colorado, home – learning to snowboard first with SOS Outreach and now in the backcountry. And this weekend he’ll ride his bike from Copper Mountain to Aspen to highlight U.S. House passage of the American Dream and Promise Act – sending a message, he hopes, to the Senate to follow suit.
The bill would protect more than 2.5 million Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from deportation and provide a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients like Pineda who were brought to the United States by their parents without documents at a young age. The Trump administration is trying to end DACA.
“It’s not really a political campaign,” Pineda said of his 120-mile ride on bike paths and frontage roads. “It’s more that not many people know about the Dream and Promise Act. It’s more like, ‘Hey, there’s still something happening,’ especially now that DACA is going to be heard in the Supreme Court in November. It just adds more pressure so they can find a permanent solution.”
A Summit County High School graduate and former student body president, Pineda will stop Saturday at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, where Catholic Charities, partnering with the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance, welcomes the Mobile Mexican Consulate to make sure people have access to a legal form of ID. The service will be offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21, at BMHS.
Then he says he’ll continue on toward Aspen – a final destination inspired by the 2011 book “The Slums of Aspen” about environmental pressure on trailer parks inhabited mostly by Latino workers. Pineda also expressed sympathy for the plight of residents of the Eagle River Village mobile home park in Edwards, where the Vail Daily has exposed substandard drinking water.
“Something that inspired me to choose this route was to touch all of the ski communities as much as possible and just communities that benefit from tourism, because I definitely believe that immigrants in general are just underrated,” Pineda said “They’re literally the unsung heroes who move the economy in these communities.”
Pineda says he wants to raise the limited awareness, even in his own community, about what the Dream Act means for Coloradans and Latinos around the nation — especially during Latino Conservation Week, which runs July 17-23.
An Eagle Scout, Mountain Dreamers board member and Summit Foundation Youth of the Year Philanthropy Award-winner, Pineda is pursuing a degree in Sustainability Studies at Colorado Mountain College while working as a paralegal for the Summit County immigration law office of Eric Fisher and also part time at the criminal and family law firm of Carlson Edwards O’Connor.
DACA, which was put in place by the Obama administration and has the support of a majority of Americans, allowed Dreamers like Pineda to come out of the shadows, study and work legally in the only country many of them have ever known. There are 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado and nearly 800,000 nationwide.
Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in the Vail Daily.