by Hannah Krieg
Tenants rights counselor Julissa Sanchez read from her phone at the Cancel the Rent Rally at Othello Park on the afternoon of Saturday, June 5 . She said it would be easier to read without her sunglasses on, because if she took them off, the crowd of a few dozen would see her smeared makeup. Sanchez had been crying.
“The eviction moratorium is great — it has prevented unjust evictions …” Sanchez said. “… but it definitely did not prevent the thousands of thousands of dollars of rental debt that our people are in.”
Continue reading Activists Gather at Othello Park to Call for Cancelling Rent, Continuing Moratorium
by Maile Anderson and Ronnie Estoque
Around 150 people marched from the Central District to downtown on Saturday, May 1, as part of El Comité’s annual May Day or International Workers’ Day march. It was one of the smallest turnouts in two decades, but the spirit of the protesters was undeterred as they walked on behalf of immigrant and workers rights. On their way, attendees passed through Chinatown-International District where JM Wong, co-founder of Massage Parlor Outreach Project, spoke out against the recent rise in hate and violence against Asian Americans. Other speakers included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.
This year’s Trabaiadorxs Esenciales y Excluidxs (Essential and Excluded Workers) march highlighted the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on vulnerable and essential workers. “2020 became a major challenge for workers,” reads the event listing on El Comité’s website. “As a result of the virus, thousands of businesses closed, some forever. Millions of workers were furloughed or lost their jobs. Many lives were thrown into a world of unemployment, poverty, compounding rental debt, and homelessness.” Protesters also marched for immigration reform, equitable vaccine access, cancelling rent debt and evictions, and solidarity against police brutality, white supremacy, and systemic racism.
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: El Comité’s Annual May Day March 2021
by M. Anthony Davis
Stephanie Gallardo, an educator, activist, and labor organizer, announced today she will challenge incumbent Adam Smith, a Democrat from Bellevue who has held the 9th Congressional District seat since 1997.
Continue reading Organizer Stephanie Gallardo Announces Congressional Run Against Adam Smith
by Luna Reyna, columnist
As we’ve reported in the past, the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in Tacoma, Washington is run by GEO Group, the largest private prison company in the country. Accusations of human rights violations, followed by countless lawsuits, have remained constant since the facility was built over 20 years ago. Grassroots organizations like La Resistencia have been working for over five years to shut down the facility, and House Bill 1090 (HB 1090) may finally do just that.
House leadership brought HB 1090, which would ban private for-profit detention facilities in the state, closer to becoming law with a majority vote in support of the bill on February 23. “Businesses should not be able to make profits on incarceration. Private, for-profit detention facilities place shareholder profits above all other priorities. These facilities are not accountable to the public. Government officials and advocates have sought information from private detention facilities, through the Freedom of Information Act, but have been turned down on the basis of trade secrets,” the House Bill Report reads. “The state has the authority and obligation to protect persons within its borders from human rights violations, even in the context of immigration enforcement. The government can address immigration enforcement without the use of private, for-profit detention facilities.”
Continue reading OPINION: Bill May End Decades of Human Rights Violations at Immigration Detention Center
by Elizabeth Turnbull
On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the State of Washington opened applications for a new $40 million fund which provides COVID-19 financial relief to workers whose immigration status has made them previously ineligible for federal stimulus or unemployment benefits.
Aid relief amounts vary from $1,000 for individuals to up to $3,000 per households, and applicants to the fund, which closes on Dec. 6, must be at least 18 years old, significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and ineligible for federal stimulus funding or unemployment benefits due to their immigration status.
Continue reading New COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund Unveiled, Now Open for Applications
by Heather Rosewarne
When I heard the news on September 21 that immigrant women at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia had their reproductive organs removed without consent, I was horrified then angry. I had spent the previous day in a conference about systemic racism in healthcare with a specific focus on violence against enslaved women in U.S. history. Currently, immigrants in detention are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect, but the reports of the reproductive violence in Georgia are particularly chilling.
I have lived and worked on the Texas-Mexico border in shelters with immigrant and refugee families. There I heard first-hand stories about people’s migration journeys such as leaving home because there was no work to support their families or because of gang violence in which their lives are threatened. People leave when situations are dire, traveling by foot, on buses or trains, with the hope of better opportunities elsewhere. In general, people flee their countries of origin because of extreme political and social instability, where many endure violence and persecution. Many migrants experience sexual violence along the journey and then suffer abuses while held prisoner in U.S. immigration facilities. Most of these people will be deported without fair legal access.
Over the last 15 years as a labor and delivery nurse in Seattle, I have cared for people giving birth as well as during emergencies and tragedies. Fundamental healthcare rights include making sure people understand what’s happening during their care, holding space for questions, using medical interpreters, getting consent, and giving access to pain medicine when needed. The fact that none of these basic healthcare rights were given to incarcerated people is heartbreaking. When people are given a consent to sign in medical jargon in a language they don’t understand or are coerced to make a decision by a medical authority, that is not proper informed consent.
Continue reading My Solidarity Vigil for the Immigrant Women Sterilized in Georgia
by Carolyn Bick
The Seattle City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution asking Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee to create a relief fund for undocumented workers affected by the current novel coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, which was championed at the grassroots level by several immigrants’ rights organizations and introduced by sponsors Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda at the City Council’s May 18 meeting, asks that the governor create the fund, because undocumented workers are ineligible for regular federal or state unemployment benefits or relief, despite paying taxes like official United States citizens.
Continue reading Seattle City Council Passes Resolution Asking Gov. Inslee to Create Relief Fund for Undocumented Workers