July 8, 2020

Denver's "conscientious" coffee closes for Trump's immigration policy

Created five years ago as a means of participatory learning for refugees arriving in the country, the popular The Spring Café in Denver (Colorado) will be forced to close next week due to changes in the immigration policies of the Donald Trump government.

This place located within the First Baptist Church of Denver, a few blocks south of the Colorado Capitol, and with constant traffic from legislators, public workers, businessmen and tourists, used only refugees.

While working, these migrants received English classes and were integrated into local activities, from visits to the local Capitol to labor and business training events.

But this non-profit project that encourages the integration of refugees for five years must close its doors.

"Unfortunately, the sharp decline in the arrival of refugees under the Trump Administration has made it extremely difficult to hire new staff and achieve the coffee mission," Paula Schriefer, president and general manager of the Spring Institute, the organization, told Efe on Wednesday. which supervises The Spring Café.

"Despite our best efforts to recruit staff and despite good administrative practices and the obvious popularity of coffee, operations are no longer sustainable," he added.

And they are not because in the last two years the number of refugees arriving in Colorado decreased dramatically, from about 2,500 each year in 2015 and 2016 to 838 this year, according to data from the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Therefore, so far in 2019, The Spring Café did not receive a single new job application from newly arrived refugees to Colorado.

The change is due to the new rules implemented by Trump since the beginning of his term in 2017 to reduce the entry of immigrants, refugees and asylees to the United States. And that number will continue to decrease in 2020.

In fact, last month the Trump Administration approved a plan to accept only 18,000 refugees next year, compared to 85,000 refugees who arrived in the country during the last year of the Administration of President Barack Obama (2009-2017).

According to Schriefer, from December 2015 to the present, The Spring Café received refugees from Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam.

And the result was that, thanks to their experience in coffee, "they improved their English proficiency and work skills and the vast majority of them obtained jobs with incomes above the minimum wage or enrolled in higher education."

Schriefer said that many of the refugees who worked at The Spring Café are still working in the customer service sector, although some have opted for other opportunities, such as Inna Kolesnikova, from Belarus, who now studies nursing. Still others, opened their own businesses.

This small place that still serves "coffee with conscience", as one of the posters of the enclosure says, boasts its condition as a place of reception and one of its walls is decorated with a world map with the word coffee in about twenty languages .

During these years, The Spring Café served as a meeting place outside the Capitol for state legislators, because it was the closest cafe to the legislative headquarters.

In prepared statements, state senator Julie Gonzales (Denver Democrat) lamented the closure of the coffee, stating that in this local coquette she had some of her most "difficult conversations" and that around her small tables they worked on several bills.

Schriefer emphasized that the Spring Institute is making efforts so that the four refugees still working in the cafe have new jobs and are also looking for a company that wants to take over the popular place.

"We take pride in the many immigrants and refugees who acquired work experience here and for whom this place was the springboard for other careers or for better education," Schriefer said.

For the Belarusian Inna Kolesnikova, who worked for two years in coffee and now studies nursing, Spring is a "special place" and its people became her "second family".

"They accepted me and taught me. They also encouraged me," the migrant told Efe, who stressed that those responsible helped her "perform" professionally.

For cases like Kolesnikova's, Schriefer said they are going to "greatly miss the sense of community" of a place that "was never just a place where coffee was sold."

But, despite the sadness, The Spring Café will be fired with a party next Wednesday, celebrating "Denver's mission to receive and help refugees and immigrants" and honoring "the humanity of immigrants and refugees and the value of their tremendous cultural and economic contributions. "

According to Schriefer, the real regret is not the loss of a community compound in Denver, but "the constant efforts of the Trump Administration to derail aid to immigrants and to prevent the arrival of refugees to the United States."

. (tagsToTranslate) Close (t) awareness (t) Denver (t) immigration (t) Trump

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