It’s been almost two weeks since we found out who the 45th President of the United States will be. In the wake of the presidential election, many members of our community have expressed fear and concern with the uncertainty of how this new president will govern based on the divisive language he used and the policy proposals he advocated for during his campaign. Accordingly, many of us have already started organizing around what we can do in the wake of potential federal policy proposals with daunting and real implications for our communities, particularly immigrants, refugees, women, Muslims and the LGBTQ community. In the coming weeks and months, my priority is to work with community to advance local policies and advocate for federal policies that will continue to protect these communities. As Chair of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans committee, I will be doubling down on my work to ensure each and every Seattle resident feels safe and respected.
To my brothers and sisters in the struggle for immigrant rights, I continue to stand in solidarity with you. I take my role in this historic moment in our struggle for justice very seriously not because I’m an elected official, but because my own parents first emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as undocumented immigrants before adjusting their status and, in my mother’s case, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Just after the election I stood with the Mayor as he announced our City’s continued commitment to protecting immigrant and refugee communities. I wholeheartedly stand by the Mayor’s pledge to continue enforcing our own policies that prohibit our employees, including police, and contracted providers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status. Our city will continue to provide critical human, public safety and health and human services regardless of immigration status.
My office has received many inquiries related to resources for immigrants and refugees, in that spirit, I share with you some valuable, bilingual resources for the immigrant and refugee community that can be shared with your networks.
I look forward to partnering with community and other elected leaders to provide all Seattle residents’ unfettered opportunities to succeed in our community.
Resources for members of the immigrant and refugee community:
- Advisory Regarding DACA Program After Presidential Election / Consejo Comunitario Sobre el Programa DACA Después de la Elección Presidencial (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project)
- Everyone Has Rights No Matter Who Is President (National Immigration Law Council)
- List of free or low-cost legal services in Washington State
- What to do if you are questioned about your immigration status / Que Hacer Si Le Preguntan Acerca De Su Estatus Migratorio (ACLU)
- Protect Yourself from Immigration Raids / Protejas de las Redadas
A budget we can be proud of:
While the aftermath of the election was unfolding, here at City Hall we continued to craft a budget for 2017-2018 that reflects Seattle’s values of equity. Today, that budget passed with majority support.
This budget was my first budget cycle as a councilmember. My priorities included investments in public safety, housing, paid family leave, and support for immigrants, refugees, non-English speakers, LGBTQ youth and seniors, and domestic and sexual assault survivors.
Here are a few highlights but you can check out my website for a full list of budget items that I championed on behalf of community.
- Public Safety. Making sure that residents of South Park and Chinatown-International District have the resources they need to spur community-driven public safety improvements. For South Park, that means the creation of a Special Task Force to provide the City with concrete policy recommendations that will improve overall public safety and livability of that neighborhood.
- Housing. Funding an affordable housing needs assessment analysis for LGBTQ seniors and funding resources for development of a homeless youth housing project to ensure some of our most vulnerable neighbors have access to stable housing and the services they need.
- Paid Family Leave. Advancing the City’s paid family leave benefits by funding a paid parental benefits coordinator at the Seattle Department of Human Resources, who will help City employees navigate benefits available to them when there is a birth of a child or a family member becomes ill.
- Immigrants & Refugees. Ensuring that immigrants and refugees become New Americans by increasing the funding for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Citizenship Workshops. These workshops will help eligible immigrants to naturalize and further integrate into our democracy by registering to vote and voting.
- Survivors of Domestic & Sexual Violence. Funding four mobile advocates for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and a legal navigator at the King County Courthouse. These budget actions will allocate funds to directly assist survivors of domestic and sexual violence through the labyrinth of the legal and social services system, which can be very confusing and burdensome in an already stressful and uncertain moment for survivors.
As a whole, I believe that our 2017-2018 budget demonstrates bold and creative action towards investing in our community by prioritizing the needs of working families and underrepresented communities. Thank you to all of those that participated in the year’s budget by meeting with me, my staff, attending public comment or sending us a note. Your continued engagement is valued.
Wow; it’s been a year!
Can you believe that it’s been a year since I’ve had the privilege of serving as your councilmember? I can’t either! It feels auspicious that this year Thanksgiving falls on the same day I was sworn in to be the first Latina to serve on the Seattle City Council. And, in spite of the work that has yet to be completed, we have much to be thankful for here in Seattle. Perhaps, my colleague Councilmember Debora Juarez (Dist. 5) said it best when she said that on this Thanksgiving Day we should pray for the struggle of our Native communities who are fighting every day to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Here in Seattle we are finding new ways to celebrate Native communities and today the Council proclaimed November to be Native American Heritage Month.
On the eve of my one-year anniversary in office, I want to convey my gratitude to the people who have made this year one of immense growth and success. In 12 short months, thanks to your support and counsel, we:
- Became the second major city to pass a secure scheduling ordinance;
- Banned the practice of so-called “conversion” therapy on minor children;
- Proposed an expansion of the City’s paid parental leave policies to add more weeks and coverage for paid family leave; and,
- Submitted the City’s proposed police accountability and reform legislation to the U.S. District Court.
None of this would have been possible without my City family. Many of you have had the pleasure of working with my staff and interns. This work is one of love and it could not be done without the dedication to public service exemplified by my team: Orlando Cano, Cori Simmons, Cody Reiter, Brianna Thomas, Genevieve Jones, Cory Dahl and Roxana Gomez.
I also want to thank so many of you for inspiring me to do this work every day. In the last two weeks we have seen how this community mobilizes into action to express our love of community and our collective resilience. There was a legal clinic and vigil at El Centro, people encircling Greenlake, peaceful protests by students and local leaders getting together to determine #WhatWeMustDoNow. And tonight I’ll be going to Rainier Vista at the request of eight young, powerful Muslim women to talk about where we go from here.
Combined, these efforts demonstrate that we remain committed to protecting one another and our shared values. Moreover, people who have never participated in politics are taking it upon themselves to understand and involve themselves in the civic fabric that weaves our lives together. I tell you with full confidence that we have the networks of support and resilience necessary to meet the coming challenges. I am certain that we will strengthen an already powerful movement that is based in our values of opportunity, safety and equity for all. And for that I am very thankful.
In gratitude and solidarity,