December 8, 2020

Tania Chairez
Founder and CEO
Convivir Colorado

In mid November amidst the breaking news that DACA might be reinstated to its original guidelines, Aurora immigrant communities saw another glimmer of hope. City Council members in the public safety committee agreed to move forward with a legal defense fund for undocumented immigrants and a measure to prevent city collaboration with immigration agents. 

Just yesterday, both ordinances were heard in study session and it is imperative that we all urge our Aurora City Council members to support the policies.

As an immigrant myself, I know how important these policies are. My two undocumented parents and younger US citizen siblings moved to Aurora after fleeing the anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law of Phoenix, Arizona. I know what it feels like to constantly be worried for my parents’ safety and well-being and I do not want my younger siblings to live through that fear. 

What if my parents are detained at work? What if they’re subject to deportation proceedings without access to adequate representation? What will become of my younger siblings?

These concerns are not unique. I often see the worry in my students’ eyes as they share at our Convivir programming their deep fear of family separation. At Convivir we work with youth who are immigrants or children of immigrants, so their first-hand accounts of anxiety and stress for their families abound. This negatively impacts their self-confidence, mental health, and academic success.

That is why I teach my students that their immigrant identity is a superpower through which they can see the world and make it a better place. It is clear that our officials need this lesson as well since Republican Mayor Mike Coffman doubled back on his prioritization of immigrant integration. 

We are not people to be exploited only to be deported and separated from the lives we have built in our local community. We bring diversity and culture to the arts and businesses of Aurora and should feel safe in our own community. My Convivir students have so much strength and innovation to share with the world. Who would dare stifle their dreams by subjecting them to family separation? 

For many generations, immigrants have been the backbone of American society. It is time we keep our students and families safe and send the message that immigrants are worthy of basic human dignity. Call your local Aurora City Council members to urge them to support both the Safer Aurora and Legal Defense Fund ordinances.