As a mother of two young boys, I am daily finding ways to help them grow into strong human beings, seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking in kindness.
One of the conversations we have often is about choices. I love the quote from Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” When we see choices being made by ourselves and those around us, we discuss whether it was a choice made by hope or fear. I live each day with the hope that my children will be safe, have hope, and give hope where it is needed. No child, no human, should ever live in fear. And, yet, thanks to federal immigration enforcement policy, too many do.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started in 2003 as a response to the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. It was created to protect U.S. citizens by tracking and deporting criminals and persons who were threats to our country. The agency’s purpose may have been legitimate, but the way it has carried it out is not.
But on March 26, 2019, our governor, Jared Polis, told Colorado Matters that “ICE is a legitimate agency” and that he wouldn’t interfere with its policies or with the way our local law enforcement interacts with ICE. People who use fear to undermine an already marginalized group can hardly be called a “legitimate agency.”
When Governor Polis was campaigning, he ran as an advocate for the immigrant community and we fought and canvassed for him to be elected. Now he has won and has forgotten this advocacy. His statement to Colorado Matters stripped us of our hope. Just a few weeks after that interview, three victims were taken by ICE outside a 7-Eleven on the southeast side of Colorado Springs. As part of the Colorado Rapid Response Network, a hotline that responds to live ICE raids, I went as a legal observer, along with my sons, to the raid. Nearly an hour after the raid had happened, ICE officers in civilian clothing and unmarked vehicles, seemingly still in search for someone, were patrolling nearby neighborhoods. A few hours later, these ICE agents were standing at stoplights just down the street from the 7-Eleven, knocking on windows and speaking with drivers. People were afraid and turned their cars around and called to warn loved ones.
Now, let me be perfectly clear, the community living in fear is often said to be “illegal,” or not here in the States rightfully. This is UNTRUE. Under our current administration, immigrants working toward citizenship and following all the right steps toward their citizenship are being denied status and deported, EVEN WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORD. So, when immigrants, documented or undocumented, hear that ICE is knocking on windows of cars and asking for papers, they are not going to leave their homes out of fear of never returning. ICE reported to KKTV that it NEVER does random checkpoints, but were looking for a suspect and had a “blurry photo.”
What I saw on April 9 was illegitimate. ICE was not enforcing law. ICE enforced fear. I refuse to sit back after seeing this act of injustice, and the constant acts of injustices that happen every day in the country by ICE. I refuse to state that ICE is a “legitimate agency” and that we need to cooperate. I cooperate with the law; I do not cooperate with fear. I do not stand behind Governor Polis’s statement and will not stand behind it until he acts upon this injustice and passes the bills that hit his desk calling for our local law enforcement to protect ALL Coloradans from a fear-run government agency.
Polis stated, “I certainly stand with our immigrant communities and Colorado for all, and we value everyone’s contribution to our state and we want everybody to thrive. Again, law enforcement is fundamentally local.” My apologies, Governor Polis, but it seems to me that you do not stand with the immigrant communities, nor do you want a Colorado for all. You are allowing fear to run its course to the point where families are missing doctor’s appointments, students are not being picked up from school, and children are not playing in plain sight. This is not a thriving Colorado. This is not a choice of hope.
Take a stand, speak out against this injustice, and do not allow it to happen in our state. For the benefit of future generations, hear the stories. Learn the names. Change the policies. REFLECT HOPE.
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