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Nicole Funk is a UK alumna who now works as an Educational Resource Coordinator VISTA with the Food Literacy Project. Photo provided by Nicole Funk.

Right now in Kentucky state legislature, Senate Bill 1 is being reviewed. The bill proposes that anyone in Kentucky who works for a federal agency will be accountable for pointing out people who they think might be undocumented to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, widely known as ICE.

Essentially, the bill would make public employees in Kentucky responsible for immigration enforcement as part of their job descriptions. This bill encourages racial profiling and would heighten fear in immigrant communities. Even more than they already might, people would have to worry about speaking their native languages, carrying out their day-to-day lives in public, and even reporting crimes.

I am currently a federal government employee serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and I oppose this legislation. For one thing, I serve a nonprofit organization who works with immigrant youth in Louisville — I am here to share knowledge and empower these young people, not to potentially rob them of their lives and homes.

In addition, the influences of immigrants and refugees have elevated me throughout my life. I would not be the person I am, who loves to explore and learn, had legislation like this existed in my childhood. This bill threatens to remove people who actively make our state a better place.

Growing up in Lexington and attending the University of Kentucky, I saw directly how immigrants impact and enrich life in our state. I attended Maxwell Elementary where my teachers — my role models — were mostly women from Latin American countries. This experience led me to eventually become bilingual and choose to study abroad.

During my childhood, I also had the opportunity to try foods from Japanese, Korean, Indian and Middle Eastern countries at local restaurants, which were made a reality by immigrants and loved by people from all over.

At UK, I met friends who were international students from countries like Costa Rica, Saudia Arabia, Taiwan and Venezuela. They taught me about family, passion, and friendship in ways that people from my own culture couldn’t. From leading in UK’s Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, to sharing guitar music with the campus community, to helping make campus sidewalks more wheelchair-accessible, these friends have contributed impactful things to Kentucky. If SB 1 is enacted, these people and others will be threatened and have to live in fear, no matter what their immigration status is.

If you want to help ensure this legislation does not become law, please join me in calling the Kentucky Legislative Hotline at 1-800-372-7181 and leaving a message for your representatives. Urge them to vote NO on Senate Bill 1.

Another way you can help is by holding UK accountable to publicly oppose the bill. If UK as an institution opposes the bill, state legislators will likely listen. We shouldn’t take for granted the ways that immigrants uplift Kentucky, so let's make sure to stop this bill.