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Grand Junction City Council and CMU student Ana Carbajal-Barahona proclaim June as Immigrant Heritage Month

On Thursday, June 7, 2023, members of the community gathered to witness the formal proclamation of Immigrant Heritage Month at the Grand Junction City Hall Auditorium. Started in 2014, Immigrant Heritage Month honors the rich contributions that immigrants and their descendants have made to the shared history and culture of the United States.

Following the call to order and the Pledge of Allegiance, Anna Stout, Mayor of the City of Grand Junction and CMU alumna, invited those assembled to practice gratitude while observing a moment of silence.

“I invite you all to observe a moment of gratitude, reflecting on the various ways that immigration in some way or another has impacted your lives, whether that’s generations back or in your day-to-day lives today,” said Stout.

Next, Council Member Randall Reitz shared the immigration journey of his family and that of his wife’s family before reading the proclamation aloud.

“America is, always has been, and always will be a nation of immigrants. It was the premise of our founding, reflected in our Constitution and etched upon the Statue of Liberty that ‘from her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome,’” said Reitz.

“During National Immigrant Heritage Month, we reaffirm and draw strength from that enduring identity and celebrate the history and achievements of immigrant communities across our nation," Reitz continued. "Immigrants have enriched our nation and made us better, stronger, more innovative and more prosperous.”

Colorado Mesa University student Ana Carbajal-Barahona was then introduced, and she stepped up to the microphone to share her story of courage and resilience as a first-generation student.

“I am a DACA recipient, that stands for Deferred Action for Ch­ildhood Arrivals. I am protected from deportation, I am allowed to go to school and to hold a job. However, because of the rumblings in our nation, that does not guarantee me a tomorrow. However, I dream for this country to be better, to be open to everybody and to love everybody. It is because of the DREAM Act that I can go to school and educate myself in order to make this country better and strive to do what my parents wanted me to do. To quote one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, ‘knowledge is power, knowledge is safety, knowledge is happiness,’” said Carbajal-Barahona.

She continued, “So I will leave you with this — open your minds and your hearts. Be curious and learn something new today. What has an immigrant done for you? Come with me, and celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month.”

Carbajal-Barahona currently works as a peer tutor, peer mentor and an Admissions Office ambassador where she helps other Mavericks find success as they navigate the higher education landscape. She is studying accounting and plans to graduate next year.

This event received support from Mesa County Libraries and the Hispanic Affairs Project. Mesa County Libraries offers several adult learning services designed for all adult learners in the community, including immigrants. Courses are offered free of charge to those courageous individuals looking to learn English, prepare for the General Educational Development testing, earn a diploma and additional certifications through Career Online High School, take classes to work towards citizenship or to improve their literacy skills.

The Hispanic Affairs Project, founded in 2006, works to address the needs of the Hispanic immigrant community on the West Slope. Treating everyone with dignity, they work to reduce the barriers to integration faced by immigrant families by ensuring resources are accessible, leadership development is available and opportunities for economic development are abundant. The Hispanic Affairs Project also works at the local, state and federal level to advocate for pro-immigrant policy changes and they recently launched a non-partisan voter registration and education Get Out the Vote campaign.

Immigrant Heritage Month is a great reminder of the rich history and bright future of both our country and our local community. This proclamation encourages everyone to learn more about the social and economic impact of immigrants, and to appreciate the wide variety of languages, customs and cuisines that are enjoyed in Grand Junction.


Written by Giff Walters