Tag Archives: Refugee Women’s Alliance

New Americans, New Right to Vote

by Phil Manzano

It’s easy for those born in the United States to take the vote for granted.

But for those Annie Dimitras works with at the Refugee Women’s Alliance, or ReWA, the right to vote is taken seriously — almost like a sacred right.

“A lot of the people we work with at my organization are voting for the very first time, their very first opportunity,” said Dimitras, senior immigration & civic engagement program coordinator at ReWA. “They may be 70 and this is the first chance they’ve ever had to vote.”

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Washington Organizations Are Resettling Afghan Refugees, Here’s How You Can Help

by Mark Van Streefkerk

The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has left a chaotic and uncertain path forward for refugees and those with special status seeking to evacuate during the Taliban takeover. Washington-based organizations and resettlement agencies are scrambling to rally resources and funding to welcome people fleeing Afghanistan — U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (of the U.S.) and their immediate family members, those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), as well as refugees. These organizations are anticipating resettling thousands of people over a timeline that will take months, or even a year. 

Afghans with SIVs are typically those that have worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. Embassy has issued a directive for U.S. citizens to be evacuated, but other at-risk Afghans without special status are also fleeing the country as refugees.

Navid Hamidi, executive director of the Afghan Health Initiative (AHI), explained the current situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control: “Eventually people that worked with the United States Army or western countries, any type of involvement, those people will be targeted and they are in fear of their lives … As the U.S. pulled out and the Taliban took power, they had no strategy and no plan to evacuate all these people.”

“The only thing that people thought was the best option is to go to the Kabul airport. There’s so much chaos going on there right now … they are all in the airport begging for the U.S. and their allies to just evacuate them,” he said. 

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Rep. Adam Smith Rakes In Federal Bucks for Local Projects

by Andrew Engelson

(This article originally appeared in The Stranger and has been reprinted with permission.)

Washington State Representative Adam Smith is something of a Congressional wallflower. Unlike Seattle’s other representative, Pramila Jayapal, Smith doesn’t often draw the national spotlight, and he’s not what you’d call a liberal dynamo — though his progressive record continues to please voters in the diverse 9th Congressional District, which ranges from South Seattle to the Eastside and down the I-5 corridor to Federal Way.

But, like Jayapal, the quietly diligent congressman who’s held his seat since 1997 does have a knack for keeping federal dollars flowing into his district. Earlier in July, Smith announced he’d secured more than $8 million in federal funds for community-led efforts in the FY 2022 House Appropriations Bill.

That means 10 local projects — many of them focused on housing, homeless services, youth, and racial equity — will get a substantial boost in the coming year. Among those funded is the Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) Keiro project, a longtime resource for Asian American elders in the Central District that has found a second life providing shelter to families with children who are experiencing homelessness. With help from the new $1 million in federal funds, ACLT hopes to boost services and eventually purchase the site.

“Immediately upon receiving these funds,” Wyking Garrett of ACLT said in an email, “ACLT will be able to provide 150 beds to homeless and unsheltered individuals. We hope that many of the homeless residents that are housed at Keiro temporarily will become permanent residents when we open our doors. These residents will be supported by wraparound services. At the time of completion, Keiro will provide 285 units of permanently affordable rental housing that is much needed in Seattle — a city that is suffering the dual crises of a lack of affordable housing and homelessness.”

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Hamdi Mohamed Seeks to Be First Woman of Color Elected to Port of Seattle Commission

by Jack Russillo

Hamdi Mohamed has had a connection to the Port of Seattle in one way or another for the majority of her life. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), which is owned by the Port, was one of her first points of entry into the United States when she emigrated from Somalia at the age of three. Since then, she’s lived and worked in various parts of south King County, where many families work in jobs connected to nearby Port-related industries. Mohamed’s father was a truck driver, her mother worked at Sea-Tac airport, and Hamdi herself has worked with frontline workers in south King County for more than 15 years. She currently lives in the city of SeaTac with her husband.

When Mohamed announced her candidacy for the Port of Seattle Commission on February 17, she wanted to improve the regional representation of the Port’s decision-makers, among other things. If elected, she would be the only Port Commissioner to currently live in the airport community. Mohamed would also be the first Woman of Color and the first East African person ever to be elected to the governing body that heads North America’s fourth-largest container gateway.

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“We Did Everything We Could”: Community Organizations Fear A Census Undercount

by Luna Reyna

As a child, I can recall two groups of strangers coming to our door: census workers and religious groups. My Latinx family of 7 never opened the door for either. The fear and lack of trust in government-affiliated institutions has always been tangible, and rightly so, in many marginalized communities. This fear has contributed to federally-underfunded schools, hospitals, public transportation, and even Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the past. All federal funding is guided and allocated through the findings of the decennial census.   

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