Immigration, refugee forum draws hundreds to Denver school amid fear

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DENVER -- In the wake of Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportations, hundreds of people showed up at a Denver middle school to hear how they can protect themselves and their rights.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called it "an environment of chaos" created by President Donald Trump.

The news of deportations nationwide is spreading very quickly among the immigrant and refugee communities. And it's creating a lot of fear, even for those who have lived in the U.S. legally for a long time.

Carmen Torres and her husband have two daughters who were born in the U.S. And after 22 years, she said she’s afraid someone will come to their door in the night to deport them.

"The president he take me to Mexico,” Torres said gesturing away. “Because I want to stay here with my daughters."

"You're worthy and you matter,” Hancock told the crowd gathered in the school’s auditorium. “And in Denver, Colorado we'll remain open, inclusive and a city of opportunity for all people."

That's why the mayor said he brought together a forum of law enforcement, state and federal legal experts along with immigration support services to one place.

There were interpreters who used at least five languages at the event.

"Let people know that our services exist whether it’s navigating systems dealing with the legal system or whatever that there is help available,” said Carroll Watkins Ali with Muslim Family Services.

"The president’s actions have created chaos across the country and certainly in our communities and people have a lot of questions,” Hancock said.

Colorado's acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer assured the crowd that his office is not part of deportation enforcement and that they're still protected by federal laws.

"If you are the victim of a hate crime or civil rights violation, it does not matter if you're a citizen it does not matter what your documentation status is,” he said, promising to provide whatever assistance his office might offer.

The threat of funding cuts for many of those immigration and refugee services is also creating a lot of fear for those families, some who took years to get here legally.

With a looming White House threat over sanctuary city status, Denver also might be facing a long fight.

Hancock said he and other mayors are preparing for it.