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New Immigration Center opens at DU

Lisa Martinez and Rebecca Galemba

The Center for Immigration Policy and Research (CIPR), dedicated to migration issues in the Rocky Mountain West, opened in April at the University of Denver.

But DU migration scholars Lisa Martinez and Rebecca Galemba, who co-founded the center, have been working toward this since 2018. That fall, DU launched its Knowledge Bridge incubator, a Shark Tank-style competition that awards up to $300,000 for problem-based research.

Galemba teaches migration as an associate professor with the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Martinez teaches it as a sociology professor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. 

They teamed to submit a Knowledge Bridge proposal, bringing together other faculty, staff and students to help with the proposal. 

Many ideas came from the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Colectivo, a student group dedicated to activism, community partnership and organizing education on immigrant rights in Denver.

The competition ended in March 2020—just as COVID-19 hit. So without fanfare, Galemba and Martinez were awarded $300,000 to launch the center, which will help to address a sizeable information and knowledge gap. Migrant issues get less attention in the Rocky Mountain West than in immigrant destinations such as Arizona, California, Texas, New York
and Chicago, Martinez says.

CIPR will centralize other DU immigration work. “Our goal is to also create a space where scholars working on wider, transnational immigration issues, even refugee issues, also feel welcome in that space, even if it’s not our first focus,” Galemba says.

In addition to research, the center will emphasize community impact and strive for mutually beneficial collaboration.

“Traditional avenues tend to recycle this idea of what research looks like and where it comes from, which is very exclusionary,” Galemba says. “We’re really thinking about how we can push forward.”

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