When did you first become involved with CIRC?
“I’ve been a volunteer for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition on and off since 2012, mainly just showing up to rallies and supporting in any way I could, but then in 2017 DACA was threatened, and I’m a DACA recipient, so it definitely scared me a lot, and I’ve known some of the staff here for years and I heard about this action that they were planning, and I showed up to a planning meeting for the Denver Public Schools walkouts of September 2017, and I ended up being delegated a whole role that I didn’t feel ready for.
I was in charge of escorting a number of students from a high school to Auraria campus, and although it was very scary when I was doing it, it felt very empowering. And it gave me a lot of hope, as we were getting to the college campus, to see how many people had showed up to support people like myself. That day as we arrived on the college campus, we also got the news that the president had decided to indeed kill the program. And instead of being sad and heartbroken, I was really angry. At the time I was working as an administrative assistant, and I decided that I needed to spend more time and more energy doing work like this to defend people like myself and my family.
And when did you transition from volunteering to working?
A position opened for the hotline coordinator and Denver regional point person, around August of last year, and I got hired in that position, and then I recently became the Unite Colorado campaign manager.
Initially, I saw this immigrant rights coalition as a way to protect myself and my family, but when I started working as its hotline coordinator, very quickly I realized that my family was not just my sisters and my parents, but it was everybody that was calling our hotline, everybody that looks to any organization like ours, that has ever had a mixed status family or a family of undocumented people. I see them as my immediate family.
How have you grown throughout your time here?
I remember the first time I shared my story in a meeting with Senator Bennet’s staff, it was something that I never had spoken about without choking up. And now I host and conduct these story of self trainings. So I went from not being able to say the words in a public space or even behind a closed door meeting with legislators to helping others find the words for their story and feeling confident and comfortable in their person, saying “This is who I am and this is why we need change.” And right now, I’m really thankful that I’ve been able to learn so much in this coalition, and as far as knowledge of policy and strategy, I’ve grown so much.
But when it comes down to the basics, it’s about me going from not being able to feel safe in saying, “This is who I am,” to empowering other directly impacted people to see the power of their words, the strength in their words, and recognize that they can be part of the change.
This post is part of our Staff Spotlight series, highlighting members of the CIRC team! Follow the series on our instagram, @co_immigrant, or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coloradoimmigrant/