In the wake of actions by the Donald Trump administration, immigration policy is sweeping headlines across the country.Many citizens are pushing for stronger protection for immigrants through policy. In Colorado, a movement to pass Virginia’s Law, which would assist undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse, is the latest push.

Illustration by Cate Johnson

The origin of this law dates back to 2011 when Virginia Mancinas was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after calling police because of domestic abuse by her husband. After calling, Mancinas feared her husband and the consequences of reporting the incident and chose to deny the event. She was ultimately arrested for false reporting. Next, she was held in county jail for over two weeks, where she was interrogated by ICE on immigration charges. Not only was Mancinas held and questioned by ICE, she was not allowed medical attention in the aftermath of abuse from her spouse, despite of her physical state. 

Eventually, Mancinas was able to prove physical abuse and gain legal status through the Violence Against Women’s Act of 1994 — a piece of legislation created to help women who have experienced abuse navigate the criminal justice system. She was released and returned to her husband, who then abused her again. The impact of ICE’s interrogation and detainment deterred her from calling the authorities again, despite prolonged abuse.

Because of this event, Colorado Representatives Dan Pabon and Susan Lontine proposed “Virginia’s Law” — which would protect all Coloradans and ensure their safety in calling the authorities in emergency situations. Unlike Mancina’s case, lawmakers want to ensure that victims of abuse would feel they can alert police no matter their legal status. The law would provide protection for DACA recipients on college campuses, survivors of domestic violence, families at hospitals, families at schools, and victims of crimes and witnesses at court.

Many Coloradans throughout the state agree with Representatives Pabon and Lotine and are calling their state legislators to encourage the law to be pushed forward. Colorado College students have been equally involved in this process and have hosted events on campus to call their lawmakers. The CC Refugee Alliance and CC Dems cosponsored an event with community members and organizations, including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, to create a phone bank event on Feb. 27. The event was held in Tutt Library and encouraged students to reach out to citizens in Boulder to support the law.  

If you are interested in advocating for Virginia’s Law, write, call, and Tweet to your state legislator now. 

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