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Colorado might not be a state known for its diversity, but about 16 percent of the people living in its capital were born outside the United States, according to a 2014 Immigrant Community and Neighborhood Assessment. According to the Denver Post, Colorado was expecting to welcome 2,200 refugees in the federal fiscal year of 2017—at least before President Donald Trump barred refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days.
The pause on refugee entry, along with a 90-day prohibition of any nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries—Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia—from traveling to the U.S. were both temporary blocked by a federal judge on Friday. The Justice Department, under Trump’s direction, tried unsuccessfully to challenge the decision on Saturday. It’s possible that the order could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s uncertain what will happen next. In the meantime, Trump’s efforts to temper illegal and legal immigration have undoubtedly put a strain on immigrant and refugee families, their communities, and the groups that advocate for them in Colorado and nationwide. If you’re interested in bolstering resources for this underserved population, consider supporting one of these local organizations.
The Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network provides legal counsel to immigrants and those affected by immigration policy throughout Colorado. In addition to informing people of their civil rights, the Westminster-based organization frequently holds training programs for volunteer attorneys and the public; at the end of this month, RMIAN—in conjunction with the Immigration Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Lawyers Committee, and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies—will hold a training session on youth immigration law. The half-day program is free for lawyers who commit to taking on a pro bono immigration case through RMIAN. Volunteer | Donate
The Denver-based African Community Center helps refugees and immigrant youth from all over the world find their footing, develop skills, build their networks, and generally establish a positive and successful life in the Denver metro area. The ACC, which is parented by the Ethiopian Community Development Council, also has a youth-specific program that promotes upward mobility, civic engagement and leadership among adolescents. Volunteer | Donate
The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Colorado’s oldest and largest civil rights institution, has been safeguarding our state’s civil liberties since 1952. ACLU is the largest public interest law firm in the United States and, while recent events have caused a spike in donations to the ACLU—which are shared across all chapters—it’s important to remember that the organization is now tackling new issues, alongside its usual wheelhouse. With all the focus on national politics, ACLU of Colorado spokesperson John Krieger says it’s critical to practice the “if you see something, say something” rule in our own communities. “Rights violations can’t be fought if they’re not noted and reported,” he says. Sign Up For Its Volunteer Newsletter | Donate
The multi-pronged Project Worthmore in Aurora runs a food bank—supported by fresh foods sourced from their community garden—dental facility, administers English classes, and sets up refugees with local volunteers who can mentor them through the basics of American life. Volunteer opportunities span across all their endeavors. Project Worthmore, which serves many people whose families are affected by Trump’s executive order, also lives inside the Mango House—a safe haven and resource center for refugees—which has suffered violent threats in the past couple weeks. Needless to say, they need your support now more than ever. Volunteer | Donate
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition informs the public about immigration law, helps document instances where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may overstep the law, and assists those who may qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The future of both these programs are uncertain moving forward, making it that much more crucial that experts like those at CIRC can adequately serve the public. Volunteer | Donate
A partnership of faith-based organizations, the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition’s mission is to provide a safe space—literally and figuratively—for immigrants and refugees, when and if it is ever needed. The Coalition works with local churches to provide physical space for immigrants and refugees. Sanctuary, as it notes on their website, is “to proclaim and protect the dignity and worth of every human being,” something the interfaith group takes to heart. Donate | Learn More