LiveWell Colorado Stands with Dreamers

In the definition of the American Dream, crafted by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” But right now, despite their abilities or levels of achievement, an entire generation of Dreamers is at risk of being deported from the country they call home. The United States, which has been largely built by the sweat and labor of immigrants, will now potentially deny some 800,000 young people raised in the US the right to continue learning, living, and working here as a result of the Trump administration’s proposed end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

We, the board and staff of LiveWell Colorado, reject this egregious and immoral act as it stands against every principle that we work towards and indeed contradicts the narrative that our country is a land of opportunity for all. There are nearly 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado. Aside from the utter trauma that would ensue as a result of rescinding DACA, the pain and anxiety surrounding the tenuous immigration status of these families would also be detrimental to the health and development of the U.S.-born children involved.

“Compared to other social determinants of children’s health, this is the only one I know that can be changed by a simple legislative or executive act. All the other social determinants we have been trying to improve in child health have been very difficult to change,” says Fernando Mendoza, Stanford professor of pediatrics. “As policymakers deliberate over DACA’s future, they should consider the program’s broader impact, which may extend for decades and have life-altering consequences for U.S. citizens.”

As an organization whose mission is to increase access to healthy eating and active living by removing barriers that inequitably and disproportionately affect low-income communities and people of color, we at LiveWell recognize that this policy change would introduce an additional obstacle to improving health outcomes for many Coloradans. For our immigrant partners and community members who already face substantial challenges to accessing safe and relevant services, this additional barrier would potentially cause negative health outcomes.

This year, many eligible immigrants discontinued their participation in needed government and community services such as Medicaid, SNAP, and free and reduced-price school lunches for fear of their personal information being used to track them, disqualify them from a path to citizenship, or even deport them. Many more will shun engagement with community-based nonprofit organizations for similar reasons. Immigrants living in food deserts/swamps may be less likely to travel the necessary distances to grocery stores due to fear of being stopped by police or by ICE agents. Additionally, the separation from their parents would cause children of DACA participants to suffer depression and anxiety—ailments at the core of many other chronic health conditions.

“There are so many DACA students, employees, and residents who contribute to Colorado each and every day,” says Barbara Grogan, Chair of the Board of Directors for LiveWell Colorado. “We need to stand together against this unnecessary cruelty. Dreamers need us, and we need them.”

We believe in and work towards a just and equitable society that cares for all of its residents. Our hearts ache for the many individuals and families subjected to the callous acts of the current administration. It is our hope that the voices of those who work toward an inclusive and equitable environment which supports the health and wellbeing of all Coloradans will resound louder and stronger than those who strive to divide and destroy. We at LiveWell continue to push toward that higher ground.