The immigration debate continues to dominate the news cycle—from ICE raids in Colorado last week to persisting fallout from family separations and a declaration by border officials earlier this year that the immigration system is “at the breaking point.” With a polarizing topic like immigration, nothing speaks louder than data. That’s why nearly 300 journalists, data scientists, community members and DU students gathered on campus Friday and Saturday, September 27 and 28, for Colorado’s first migrahack.

By Nicole Militello

The migrahack is a two-day meeting of the minds where small groups collaborate and comb through public data to create stories about the impacts of immigration in Colorado. The University of Denver partnered with Colorado Media Project and several local groups to bring this unique experience to the Centennial State. The goal is to provide an effective method for sharing stories and enhance understanding about the immigrants that make up 10% of Colorado’s residents.

“Immigration is a hot topic,” DU student coordinator Isaac Vargas said. “We have a lot of first-generation students such as myself that have come from immigrant families. To be able to report and talk about the issues that are happening on our campus, in our city and in our state is really important given the community we represent.”

Award-winning Los Angeles Times journalist Cindy Carcamo kicked off the hackathon with the annual Estlow Center Anvil of Freedom lecture. Caracamo, who has covered immigration for more than a decade, stressed the importance of data and facts when reporting on an emotionally charged issue like immigration.

“It’s important to look at the numbers and put it into perspective,” Carcamo explained. She emphasized how significant it is to think about the best way to tell a story.

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