Seattle, WA (December 11, 2019)-
To KOMO 4 News Director Bill Dallman:
The undersigned organizations write to condemn KOMO 4’s plans for a town hall on December 12th, the framing of which furthers false and damaging stereotypes about people of color and immigrant/refugee communities.
The invitation for KOMO 4’s event implies an association between immigrants and criminality that is both false and harmful. In reality, immigrant/refugee communities are our coworkers, classmates, neighbors, family, and friends who are a vital part of our local communities and have undeniable human rights. Studies have shown that immigrants, and specifically our undocumented community members, are less likely to commit crimes than the general public.
Sadly, these kinds of attacks on immigrants and refugees have only increased under the current administration, and our concerns have grown since the purchase of KOMO by Sinclair Broadcasting, which has on numerous occasions produced highly biased segments that attempt to further the federal administration’s cruel and misguided immigration agenda.
Countless news stories have revealed the abuse of countless immigrants, including the deaths of adults and children, at the hands of ICE. Their reputation has rightly suffered. ICE is now the least popular government agency of all, less popular than the IRS. Rather than attempting to improve their reputation by purposefully dividing us and stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment, ICE should stop their pattern of cruel, unethical and unlawful behavior.
Organizations and individuals committed to protecting immigrant/refugee rights see no value in participating in a forum that is framed to try to legitimize an out-of-control government agency that is responsible for injuries, abuse, trauma, and even deaths of immigrants.
We are collectively committed to protecting and strengthening our welcoming city and state (otherwise known as sanctuary) jurisdiction policies, which helps ensure that immigrant families can feel safer going about their everyday lives – going to school and work, and taking care of their loved ones without fear of being harassed, assaulted, or abducted by immigration authorities working hand in hand with local police. In addition, these policies ensure that local law enforcement do not engage in violations of the constitutional rights of Washington residents, as the courts have consistently found that local law enforcement agencies violate the law when they detain someone based on an ICE detainer or otherwise attempt to enforce federal immigration law.
We are proud of the collective work of organizations across Washington state that led to the bipartisan passage of the Keep Washington Working Act in 2019, which seeks to end inappropriate collusion between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, helping to ensure that we are reducing harm to immigrant and mixed-status families as much as possible, and sending a message to all that we are a welcoming state for immigrant/refugee communities.
For the above reasons, our organizations refuse to participate in this forum, and will continue the work we engage in every day to fight for the rights of our immigrant/refugee communities.
Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica
Michael Byun, Asian Counseling and Referral Services
Monserrat Padilla, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network
Jorge L. Barón, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Annie Benson, Washington Defender Association
Cuc Vu, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, City of Seattle
Tahmina Watson, Watson Immigration Law
Michele Storms, ACLU of Washington
Eric Holzapfel, Entre Hermanos
Michael Itti, Chinese Information and Service Center Seattle