By Emily Summers, Practicum Reporter
Denise Maes, public policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, visited Regis University in November to discuss the current issue of immigration in our country. Maes addressed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as well as the Zero Tolerance Policy, with hundreds of students, faculty, and community members in the St. John Francis Regis Chapel.
Maes first shared the stories and experiences of a few DACA students, and explained the situation many students of similar circumstances are facing: the fear of deportation. She discussed the changes the United States has faced under the current administration and described DACA as “in limbo.” Maes stated that she is not confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of DACA.
She went on to further discuss immigration, specifically surrounding the Family Separation Policy in the U.S. After Trump’s executive order for a Zero Tolerance Policy, about three thousand children who had crossed the border into the United States were separated from their families. Maes explained the effects this separation had on these children.
“Every single child advocacy group … agrees that we have caused irreparable harm and trauma to these kids,” Maes said.
Following Maes, Regis faculty member Allison Peters read an anonymous story on behalf of a current Regis student. This student’s story depicted her life as an undocumented student in the United States. Growing up, this student explained her life, as an undocumented immigrant was full of fear and uncertainty. During her time at Regis, the student had received multiple threats, including death threats. Despite these obstacles, she has remained fairly optimistic.
“My story is one of thousands, but we are here, working for a better life, allies for those who stand for what is right. I, too, am a Regis student,” said Peters, reading the student’s remarks.
Two Regis alumni also spoke to the group about their experiences as undocumented students. Each person had a unique story.
The event soon turned toward questions and answers between the speakers and the audience.
The event, which was part of Social Justice Week on campus, stimulated conversation within the Regis community. Hearing the true, first-person stories from former undocumented immigrants themselves shed light on an incredibly relevant issue in our world today.