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