Karla Gonzales García
As state leaders look at what it means to re-open our state and the possibility of relaxing rules around social distancing, we need to be real about the fact that immigrants are being left without adequate resources to keep ourselves safe and healthy. People are struggling to make ends meet and dealing with anxiety about the health and well-being of our families. For many people, there are relief programs to help them get by, but undocumented people in our state are often denied these same supports.
Many of us left our countries in pursuit of a better life for ourselves and our families. We escaped war-torn countries in hopes to rebuild a future free from state violence and hunger. For many of us, this came with the high cost of the incessant thoughts that our goodbyes to our loved ones would be the last. Here, we are worried about how we will get through this health crisis and concerned about our loved ones back in our home countries.
For decades, advocates in our state have organized, rallied, and toiled to try to ensure that our immigrant communities have the support and protections that we need. We have demanded policy changes to ensure that we can all live safe and healthy lives by closing gaps in access to health care and insurance programs, ensuring affordable housing and workplace protections, advancing universal, socially run paid medical and family leave and paid sick days, securing accommodations for pregnant workers and protections from job discrimination, and addressing the gender and racial wage gap.
We will not be ignored or made invisible. We will speak up and show up for each other. We will stay strong in advocating for the needs of ourselves and our families.
Rather than fix systemic barriers that negatively impact the health of our families and push immigrants into poverty, we have continually been denied basic protections and support all while a broken federal immigration system forces us to live in fear.
Here we are with our demands feeling like premonitory visions – that we knew what could happen if the most vulnerable among us were left behind. Our immigrant communities have been left with the exhausting task to figure out on their own how to protect themselves, how to put food on the table, and how to provide a roof for themselves and their loved ones without access to the support we need.
So as lawmakers consider the next steps for our state, we must acknowledge that immigrant communities were never given the opportunity to prepare for this crisis, and now, we have been asked to trust in the same systems that deliberately have kept us away from the valuable resources we now need to endure in these difficult times.
But we will endure, mi gente. Our bodies hold the strength of generations of warriors, healers, parteras, and teachers. That same strength that has helped many of us during our journey crossing mares, selvas, desiertos y pampas in search of a better life for ourselves and for those to come after us. That same strength that clears our minds and peace our souls, and allows us to understand that we will be able to survive by collectively protecting and supporting each other because it is in the strength of our collective creative power that we will find the mechanisms to continue our journey in this land now called home.
We will not be ignored or made invisible. We will speak up and show up for each other. We will stay strong in advocating for the needs of ourselves and our families. During these uncertain times brought to us by decisions that had to do more with the generation of profits than the value of our humanity in itself, let’s not forget who we are, and where we come from. And know that you are not alone.”
Karla Gonzales García, Policy Director of the Colorado Organization Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) represents and advocates for all Latinxs communities living in Colorado.
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