Four of the five county commissioners vying for two district seats in the general election said they would support initiatives to help American-born children of undocumented families.
The candidates — two running in District 1 and three running in District 2 — were responding to a question during a forum Tuesday at the Anythink Huron Street library in Thornton. Topics focused on the need to address, assist and educate this growing population in Adams County.
District 1 Republican candidate Gary Mikes said the county should be responsible for connecting undocumented families and their American-born children resources that can gain them legal citizenship by passing U.S. citizenship tests or obtaining work visas.
“We need to help them, because they are good people and we’re here to take care of them,” Mikes said.
His Democratic opponent, Eva Henry, advocated for the passage of nationwide immigration legislation and said the county should support these families and their in children in any way they can.
“We need to support these children so they can stay here, get as much education as they can and have every opportunity to succeed, which is what their parents brought them here for,” Henry said.
District 2 Democratic candidate Charles “Chaz” Tedesco praised nationwide legislative action, including the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and said the county should build on those efforts.
Tedesco, who was adopted as a young child, said his biological parents’ decision to give him up as a child may have changed the circumstances of his upbringing.
“If my parents were to be undocumented and kept me back then, that would have hugely changed my life, I don’t know what I would have experienced, but I see it now and I see it as unfair,” Tedesco said. “I see that we need to support efforts like the DREAM Act and make a difference.”
His Republican opponent, Donnia Howell, said the county may not be able to affect change on nationwide immigration reform, but said it is important for the county to support American-born children of undocumented families.
“Parents come here, because they want what’s best for their kids — they want their children to grow up with every opportunity,” Howell said. “For children that are American-born citizens, it’s not their fault that their parents may not perhaps be a legal citizen, but we need to help these kids, because they want every opportunity.”
The forum was sponsored by the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County, Homeless to Home Partnership, Adams County Youth Initiative, Community Enterprise and Commerce City Business and Professional Association.
District 2 American Constitution candidate James Fariello did not attend the forum and was unavailable for comment before press time.