I’ve lived in Tucson for over 15 years. In this time, I’ve experienced pain and joy. The pain has come from my lack of permanent immigration status. Living in a state that implemented and continues to uphold SB1070, the immigrant community has and continues to be the prime targets of violence. Violence such as family separation and detention. This community that has been targeted by blatant xenophobic and anti-immigrant narratives at a state and national level. This has and continues to create a culture of fear.

Due to this fear, I’ve never felt safe around enforcement agencies or officers. To establish contact with perceived authority, to have them then question my immigration status and proceed with detention, has and continues to be my greatest fear.

My fear isn’t of an imaginary scenario, for I’ve seen this violence happen repeatedly to my immigrant community. I’ve seen it happen to those I love. I’ve felt the pain. I’ve lived through the damage it causes.

This reality deters the most vulnerable, our immigrant community, members of Tucson from feeling safe and seeking help when needed. From immigrant laborers who suffer wage theft, to survivors of domestic violence. Our community is forced to suffer through abuse, for reaching out to authorities can lead to be even more pain.

To disrupt the culture of fear and alleviate the pain, the community of Tucson has created many grassroots organizations to advocate for, protect, support and celebrate our immigrant community. This is the Tucson that allows me to experience joy. A Tucson that stands up for the most vulnerable. A Tucson that is an Immigrant Welcoming City in practice. One that provides Sanctuary.

Darío Andrade Mendoza

Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering at University of Arizona