All posts by fr33dom

Fear and Hope

Fear
The intensity of the situation continues to weigh on our immigrant brothers and sisters. We’re hearing stories of kids afraid that they will come home from school to find their parents gone, parents afraid to send their kids to school, people afraid to go to the store to buy food, people not showing up to appointments with service providers – all because of the fear that has been generated by the administration’s executive orders and resulting policies.
Hope
While we can’t discount those fears, we can do something to help people. Since the beginning of February we have given eight Know Your Rights and Family Preparedness workshops covering 573 attendees in Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties. By helping people understand their rights under our constitution, we give them some power when they are confronted by ICE. This knowledge may also help to defend them if they are placed in removal proceedings. By helping them plan, we give them some control over what will happen with their kids and assets if they are detained or deported. We don’t enjoy doing these workshops but they are a necessary and important part of our advocacy.
As we do these workshops we’re meeting lots of people who want to help. Groups are starting up in Jefferson, Kitsap, and Mason counties to support and advocate for their immigrant sisters and brothers. We’re inspired by the response of people who want to organize around immigrant advocacy. We’re meeting with these groups to help them organize and provide training and support.
We are also heartened that several groups are contacting their elected representatives to encourage them to state their support for diversity in our communities by passing Welcoming Community resolutions. It certainly seems like citizen participation is on the rise.
Five dedicated volunteers have just completed the comprehensive overview of immigration law and we expect to apply for their accreditation by the end of the month. This will greatly increase our ability to serve.
So, despite the attempts by some to drive us apart, I am seeing our community respond with energy, support and love. This is what will keep us together and get us through this challenge.
As always we need your support to continue this work. Please consider donating.

KIAC Update 2-19-17

We now have a clear idea of what life will be like for our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers under this new administration. I’m sure you’ve heard about the ICE raids across the country. Closer to home reports have increased about ICE presence in our area.
Your offers of support whether through volunteering or financial donations are very much appreciated and enable us to continue our work.

Earlier this year I shared with you our planned positive steps to support and advocate for immigrants in our community. Here are some of the activities we are accomplishing.

We are building coalitions among immigrant, refugee and Muslim-serving organizations, including partnerships with labor unions, school administrators and educators, social service providers, local governments, businesses, elected allies, and progressive leaders within the LGBTQ, environmental, racial justice and women’s movements. Some examples are our partnership with Goodwill. We’ll conduct Know Your Rights workshops and legal clinics for their students beginning in March. We’re partnering with the YWCA to promote social justice here in our community. And we started working with Jefferson County’s new Immigrant Rights Group to support their advocacy activities.

Our Family Services and Legal Services staff and volunteers are conducting Know Your Rights presentations in schools, churches, and community centers throughout Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, and Jefferson counties. This information helps people understand their rights and how to exercise them. We also talk about family emergency plans to help them plan for themselves, their families, and their children in the event of an ICE raid or their being placed in detention.

Our legal team helps Legal Permanent Residents prepare and apply for citizenship. Many of them are understandably concerned about their status and want to protect themselves. In general, we are contacted by many people reacting to the fear generated by the administration’s recent actions. We are preparing to increase our capacity by becoming able to represent people in immigration court. People with representation, especially children, have a five times better chance of not being deported. Representation is key.

We have presented draft Welcoming Community resolutions to Kitsap city and county governments and actively advocate for them to pass these resolutions. Becoming a more welcoming community means more customers for our local businesses, more jobs created by immigrant entrepreneurs, and a thriving economy that benefits us all.
By recognizing the contributions that we all make to creating a vibrant culture and a growing economy, we make our neighbors feel more included and our community more welcoming to new Americans and to everyone who calls our community home.

We remain committed to our mission to empower, educate, and integrate immigrants through advocacy and social justice.

We are all responsible to uphold basic human values of civility and justice. The current administration will be gone one day and our communities will still be here striving to make our counties and our nation stronger, more welcoming and more just.

We appreciate and need your continued support. Although much of our work is done by volunteers we still need financial support to continue. To make donations click here. If you make your donation recurring it will help even more.

Ray Garrido
Legal Services Director

PS – don’t forget our April 1st benefit – Evita. Click here for more information

We Are Moving Forward

Despite the activities of the administration we are moving forward with positive actions to aid our immigrant sisters and brothers and continue to build our communities through inclusion. Our ten point plan is aimed at protecting the vulnerable, keeping families together and building a strong and inclusive community.

  1. Increase outreach to enable all eligible immigrants to attain legal status
  2. Educate vulnerable populations about their rights and resources
  3. Help vulnerable people develop readiness plans
  4. Increase resources to defend immigrants, especially minors, in immigration court
  5. Maintain or increase accredited representative resources to continue our high rate of affirmative applications
  6. Encourage city and county law enforcement to limit their cooperation with ICE
  7. Develop and propose Welcoming Community ordinances to Kitsap city and county governments
  8. Help immigrant business owners register their businesses, file/pay taxes, and improve their business skills
  9. Participate in encouraging immigrant friendly state legislation
  10. Work with other agencies to develop an alert network

We are asking all Kitsap County city and county governments to pass a Model Welcoming City or County Resolution that proclaims our values as a community and sharing the reasons for why that’s important.

We are also working with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that their policies include immigrants as partners in keeping our community safe.

We are reaching out to vulnerable communities to help them understand their rights under out Constitution and to prepare for the dangers that the recent executive actions place them in.