Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Terrified. Hopeless. Frustrated. These are a few of the answers people gave when asked to describe how they might feel while going through the immigration process. The activity was part of an interactive workshop hosted on Saturday at Arapahoe Community College by Immigration Pathways Colorado.
The workshop, called Across Borders, was basically an Immigration 101 course. It included an immigration simulation in which participants were given a card with information about their situation, such as their country of origin, age, family and financial situation. Attendees then had to decide the best means of entering the United States — either through an employment visa, a family visa, a diversity visa, or by seeking refugee or asylum status.
Immigration Pathways Colorado, formerly known as the Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative, is fully volunteer-run, and it aims to develop support for immigrants and refugees in the metro area. It also helped form the Littleton Immigrant Resource Center, which is housed at Bemis Public Library, and coordinates a grant and scholarship program for immigrants.
This was the first Across Borders event hosted by the nonprofit, and Immigrant Pathways Colorado plans to coordinate more. Chair Susan Thornton said it’s important to explain how complex the process can be. She often hears people ask why immigrants can’t “just come in legally like my ancestors did.”
“Well, it’s just so complicated. … There’s four paths, and some people don’t fit any of those,” she said.
Kevin Kinaschuk, who owns McKinners Pizza Bar in downtown Littleton, is an immigrant himself. He’s from Canada and recognizes the current landscape is different than it was when he came to America.
“Embarrassing,” he called out when the event hosts asked how it would feel to go through the immigration process today.
Paul Parish also attended the workshop and commended Thornton and Immigrant Pathways for its work. Across Borders made him feel grateful that he does not have to go through America’s immigration process.
“We sure won the lottery being born in this country,” he said.
Devon Quispe-Julian, an 18-year-old student at Heritage High School who attended Saturday’s workshop, developed an app called Bem Chavito that helps connect immigrants with resources in their community. His app won the Congressional App Challenge, which has been called the most prestigious prize in student computer science.
Considering Quispe-Julian’s mother is an immigrant, he understands the importance of providing support, and he said it’s crucial to stop viewing immigration from a political lens.
“Really, I think you have to look at it from a humanity standpoint,” he said. “These are human beings, not political discussions.”
Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at email@example.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.