The countries where Myint Htu and Roseline Mugaruka were born are more than 5,313 miles apart, on different continents and separated by an ocean.
After participating in the democratic movement in Burma — now Myanmar — in 1988, Htu came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2009. He quickly learned bureaucracy would all but put an end to his career as an electrical engineer.
Mugaruka came to the U.S. when she was 15 with her siblings from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an unaccompanied refugee minor. That means as soon as she got to the U.S. she was put into foster care.
Now, Htu and Mugaruka, who became U.S. citizens on the same day and went to a polling place together in November to vote, work just a few feet away from each other in an open room at the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado in Evans. They know all too well setting foot in the U.S. after long, harrowing journeys doesn’t mean refugees automatically get to live at the same standard as people who were born here.
In Weld County, nearly one-third of households don’t make enough money to pay for basic needs, such as child care and food, according to the 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard released in December by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
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