Living in Fear

20th Mar 2023

This blog is part of our “We Are CPLC” series of letters from CPLC staff. We hope you are inspired by these stories of our community by our familia. When you donate to CPLC, you directly support their work.

I still remember living in a constant state of fear.

My parents would drive carefully so we wouldn’t be stopped.

Arriving home from school, I worried I’d find my father or sister had been taken.

My stomach turned over as I tried to explain to my friends why I couldn’t go on that New York trip.

I am Laura Suarez, Director of the CPLC Women’s Business Center (WBC). And I was undocumented for the first half of my life.

Our undocumented peers live in fear that they will be deported at any moment. And there are people who take advantage of this—who mistreat our workers or withhold our wages and get away with it by threatening to call the police.

Regardless of how we got here, we are just trying to live. To feed our families. To give our kids the opportunity for a better life.

But the threats and the looks leave my people feeling unworthy.

Gloria, one of our entrepreneurs at the WBC, knows this feeling. In Colombia, she was a respected police officer. When she immigrated to the United States, her professional training did not transfer, and she had to start over.

Gloria heard about the WBC and came to us because she wanted to create a business making her famous Colombian salsa.

After she completed her entrepreneurship training, we offered her an opportunity to promote her salsas inside our goodie bags for the WBC’s grand opening.

When she walked in the door to drop off her salsa and saw the tables covered in flowers and goodie bags for our attendees, she was shocked.

"But this is too fancy,” she protested. “Is this all really for me?”

“Yes,” I replied. “As fancy as it is, this is for you. We are also deserving of beautiful spaces.”

I learned that lesson from my mother. Even with all her responsibilities and taking care of my sister, who has a disability, my mom always makes time to be there for me.

And we need to be there for each other. For our undocumented people. For our women.

For our community.

Now that I am on the other side of that fear, I always ask myself how I can use my privilege to help others with what God has given me.

How can you?


Laura Suarez
Director, CPLC Women’s Business Center

Learn how we are helping other women like Gloria start their own business through the Women’s Business Center.

Note: Client name and/or identifying information changed to protect privacy.

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