Act TONIGHT! State your position on Senate Bill 5109

Forwarding the below email from our friends at WAISN!

“Our bill, SB 5109, which would allow all of Washington’s undocumented workers to apply for unemployment insurance without affecting immigration status, will be heard in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee tomorrow, Thursday January 26th, at 8:00am.

We need your help to make sure legislators vote YES before the deadline at 7:00am PST, Thursday.  

Can you state your position through the link below urging members of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee to vote for SB 5109/HB 1095?

Please follow this link to register and state your position without testifying.

  • Under the Committee Menu, be sure Labor & Commerce is selected
  • Ensure the meeting time of 01/26/2023 at 8:00AM is selected
  • Select SB 5109 Wage replacement
  • Finally, select “I would like my position noted for the legislative record” and complete the form.
  • Make sure you state your position in favor by selecting “Pro”.
  • Complete your information on the form as requested.
  • Click submit.

Undocumented workers have been categorically denied access to unemployment insurance, a vital social safety net for all communities, despite contributing to Washington’s unemployment benefits for decades. The business community is coming out against these initiatives but we say Excluded No More!

Washington can and should be a leader in groundbreaking programs that uplift all residents, regardless of citizenship status. All workers deserve dignity and support for their families.

In community,

Sasha Wasserstrom
Pronouns: They/Them, She/Her
WAISN Policy Director”

WAISN Healthcare Advocacy Day

On Wednesday at KIAC, immigrants and KIAC team members filled our conference room and spilled out into the hallways. Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) visited the KIAC office, meeting our clients and updating us on two current advocacy projects – Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers (HB 1095/SB 5109) and the Health Equity for Immigrants bill.

In coordination with KIAC team members, WAISN held three presentations with over 150 total attendees – using headsets to broadcast in both Spanish and simultaneous English. We are grateful for several local healthcare partners who participated as well as the presence of over 100 community members throughout the day. What an energetic, informative and community building afternoon!

We want to fill you in on what we learned:

HB 1095/SB 5109 will create a permanent, separate system providing unemployment benefits to undocumented workers in Washington State. Presently, although they pay taxes, undocumented workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits. In light of Covid and during the winter season, this continues to heavily impact the livelihood of immigrants. HB 1095/SB 5109 has been filed and had its first hearing last Friday in the House.

Health Equity for Immigrants is a proposed bill that will provide equal access to healthcare for all low-income Washingtonians, regardless of their immigration status, in coordination with the previously approved 1332 Waiver. Currently, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for both State sponsored and private health insurance. In many cases, this causes undocumented immigrants to not seek necessary medical care, knowing that the resulting bill will be too expensive. WAISN is currently working with a sponsor to submit this bill next week, hoping for a hearing in 2 weeks.

We know that changing the status quo takes enormous effort and numerous, diverse voices.

We know that changes like this are not given, they are fought for and won.

We know that these changes would profoundly impact the lives of thousands of our neighbors and make our communities closer to what we want them to be – a place where everyone, regardless of where they were born, has fair and equitable access to justice, respect and opportunity.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Talk to the legislators in your district to say you’re “pro” HB 1095/SB 5109 and for the proposed Health Equity for Immigrants bill.  You can find your legislator’s contact info here. We will be sending out message templates in a future email.
  • Tell others about HB 1095/SB 5109 and the Health Equity for Immigrants bill and ask them to talk with their legislators.
  • Join KIAC at WAISN’s Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Day on Thursday, February 16, 2023 in Olympia. Sign up and receive more information here. The final day to register for this event is Tuesday, January 24. We will be carpooling from KIAC. If you’ve signed up to attend and would like to carpool, email Kim to coordinate!
  • Donate! You can make a donation to WAISN and to KIAC. All gifts impact the lives of immigrants in our region.

A word from our Executive Director:

Friends of KIAC,

Greetings and happy New Year! We have just ended a strong year for KIAC, in which we achieved several momentous goals. Behind this effort, there are numerous people who make this work possible. I appreciate the skill, dedication, and commitment that everyone invests in KIAC. Without our team of volunteers, staff members and supporters, we couldn’t do what we do for our immigrant neighbors.

As I reflect upon the accomplishments of the KIAC team in 2022, I am excited to share a few achievements:

KIAC’s Immigration Legal Services team processed 242 new legal matters and fielded over 500 requests from immigrants seeking services. These included:

– 8 Adjustment of Status
– 8 Asylum
– 15 DACA Renewals
– 11 Green Card Renewals
– 30 Naturalization Applications
– And more.

KIAC’s Family Services team hosted 30 medical clinics in partnership with West Sound Free Clinic, with nearly 200 patient visits. We hosted over 20 dental clinics, in partnership with Peninsula Community Health Services, providing dozens of immigrants with accessible dental care. Along with these clinics, our Family Services team:

– Hosted 33 clothing closet days reaching over 700 families
– Delivered over 700 orders of child supplies from KidVantage to roughly 600 individual participants
– Facilitated 1,093 applications for the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund (WIRF)
– Completed over 2,000 calls or meetings (not related to WIRF)
– And more.

KIAC’s Tax & Business Team facilitated 55 business licenses and assisted with 130 state and federal tax filings.

KIAC’s Board of Directors and Leadership Team completed an Executive Director search resulting in securing and hiring a full-time Executive Director in September. They also voted to provide health insurance benefits to KIAC staff beginning this month, January 2023!

Anti-immigrant sentiment continues to be prevalent in this country, dictating the ever-changing immigration laws and policies. In the face of this, KIAC will stay strong – providing direct services, advocating for accessibility within our partner organizations and working with others to push for change.

We couldn’t get where we are today without you, our partners. I invite you to deepen your relationship with KIAC and your immigrant neighbors in 2023. Come into our office for a tour and to learn more about our work. Become a consistent, monthly donor. Volunteer your time. Tell others about KIAC and invite them to be involved. As Kathy Calvin once said, “Giving is not just about donating. It’s about making a difference.”

Let’s all make a difference and do our part to make our world, our country and our community a better place to live.

Jayson Vega
Executive Director


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