Pramila Jayapal, Executive Director of our partner organization, OneAmerica, has a good op-ed piece running in the Seattle Times right now. It details why immigrants are good for Washington state’s economy. This is even more relevant in light of the ICE raid in Bellingham, Washington earlier this year.
The early experiences of Amalia Cudeiro, Bellevue School District’s new school superintendent, mirror the experiences of many foreign-born residents in Washington and across the United States.
Born in Cuba, Cudeiro came to the United States as a child. Her father was an accountant, but because he didn’t speak English, he was only able to find work as a dishwasher. Cudeiro gave back to her father — she earned a doctorate from Harvard, built a much-lauded career in education, and today is poised to become the first immigrant school superintendent in a city where one in four residents is foreign-born.
Cudeiro’s journey and contributions may be viewed as a microcosm of immigrants across Washington state. A report released last week by OneAmerica, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to advancing democracy and justice, clearly lays out the contributions of immigrants to Washington’s economy and makes the case for why immigrant workers are indispensable in our state.
CA: Group: Detained Immigrants Kept in Squalid Basement: Immigrants held by the federal government are being detained in a squalid basement where conditions are foul-smelling and dirty, a civil rights group said in a lawsuit.
WA: Seattle Raid Raises Questions About Shift in Enforcement: The disclosure Wednesday that illegal immigrants in Seattle were given permission to work in the country has triggered alarms on Capitol Hill that the Obama administration is making a fundamental shift in the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.
NM: Roswell Hispanics Claim Police Racial Profiling: Roswell residents’ complaints about racial profiling of Hispanics by police officers have prompted a state advocacy group to request intervention from the U.S. Justice Department and the state attorney general’s office.
GA: Senate Bill Links Road Money to Immigration Status: Local governments that don’t check to make sure they are not hiring illegal immigrants could lose state money for building roads, under legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday.
On February 24th, in Bellingham, WA an engine remanufacturing plant was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. 28 undocumented workers were arrested. Janet Napolitano has since called for an investigation into the raid and it has become clear that ICE conducted the action without the knowledge or consent of the new Secretary. Regardless of the many political implications of the raid, the hard reality is that a community has been ripped apart and local organizations and community members are left to pick up the pieces.
Our partners at OneAmerica have been doing great work, along with local community groups in the Bellingham area.
Local groups, Community to Community Development and the Whatcom Community Foundation have set up a special fund called Los Niños Bellingham to solicit donations from individuals or foundations to help provide support for rent, food, clothing and other essential and basic needs of the families who have been affected. To donate, click here.
These groups will also be holding a fundraiser during today’s Cesar Chavez day at the Oregon State Capitol.
In other encouraging news, last week, the remaining 13 detainees who were still in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, were released without having to pay bond. This is a wonderful result and extremely unusual. The detainees have been reunited with their families, but OneAmerica is not yet clear about how long they will be able to stay in the country or what is expected in return for their freedom. There are concerns over y reports from family members who have been receiving phone calls and visits from ICE officers to their homes.
The day after the release of the remaining detainees, OneAmerica met with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and at least 10 of the individuals who were detained during the raid. Detainees discussed their tremendous pain and suffering; many have lost their apartments and homes, do not have enough money to feed their children and have children or parents who are legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens and do not know what their future holds. Rep. Larsen re-committed himself to comprehensive immigration reform, recognizing that these workers should not be punished for working, and stressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
We are proud of the great work being done by OneAmerica and their local partners on the ground in Washington.