Aurora lawmakers back snubbing anti-Asian bigotry, balk at pushing for immigrant stimulus cash

Harry Budisidharta gets his weekly shopping done April 14, 2020, at the Costco on Havana Street. According to metro area officials with the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Colorado, there has been an increase in racial tension against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | It was one up and one down for COVID-19-related resolutions from the Aurora City Council on Monday.

The local body unanimously voted to condemn anti-Asian sentiments and hate crimes during a meeting on Monday, but a split vote calling on allowing tax-paying immigrants without legal status federal stimulus money failed a second time with a tie vote.

Council members Dave Gruber, Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins and Curtis Gardner voted against the resolution urging the federal government to provide pandemic economic relief benefits to some undocumented immigrants who pay taxes. 

Mayor Mike Coffman also voted no on the measure, sponsored by Councilwoman Alison Coombs, creating a tie and ultimately killing the resolution.

The resolution urged Congress to include stimulus payments to people who have paid taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is issued by the Internal Revenue Service to “help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security numbers.”

While non-binding and acts more as a message from the city council, the resolution resulted in a tie vote on April 21, allowing it another vote Monday. 

It failed with the same vote.

In April, Bergan said resolutions give a “false sense of security” to Aurora residents, adding that she may even vote “no” on all future resolutions because she dislikes the concept so much.

She did vote “yes” on the resolution Monday condemning hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans in Aurora. 

Councilwoman Crystal Murillo sponsored that resolution, which highlights the use of anti-Asian terminology tied to the coronavirus because it originated in the Wuhan region of China. 

“Chinese Virus,” “Wuhan Virus” and “Kung-flu” have “perpetuated anti-Asian stigma,” the resolution says. 

Bergan said she believes this resolution has an important message that should come from the city council. 

“Nobody should have to deal with any kind of hate toward them,” she said during the meeting. 

Several residents who identify as Asian wrote into city council in support of the resolution, including Harry Budisidharta, executive director of the Asian Pacific Development Center in Aurora. 

He told the Sentinel last month he and his organization have had increased reports from the Asian community about harassment in public. 

“It ranges from spitting, to shoving, to yelling of racial slurs, to people backing away and looking visibly afraid,” he said.