2020 Legislative Wins for Immigrants in WA

OneAmerica Leaders at Lobby Day in Olympia on January 29

March 12th was the end of Washington State’s legislative session and we have a lot to celebrate!

Hundreds of OneAmerica leaders, allies and people like you made our voices heard in Olympia, and our legislators listened.  OneAmerica leaders headed down to Olympia on January 29th to speak with their legislators about issues that directly impact their communities. Read on to see what we accomplished together.

ADVOCATING FOR A MORE EQUITABLE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Education is a pivotal part of the lives of all children. We advocated for legislation that would improve the lives of immigrant and refugee children, such as bilingual classrooms. We know that bilingual education, where students are learning two languages or more in school, has the power to transform Washington schools while significantly improving outcomes for all students. By 2025, 1 in 4 students enrolled in Washington State public schools will be an English language learner (ELL) or have an immigrant/refugee parent. 

OneAmerica leader Hodon traveled to Olympia to testify on why dual language programs are pivotal for the future of her two Somali-American sons. She shared that it is “very important to raise them in an environment where multicultural heritage is celebrated.” She wants her children to feel that their language has always been a part of their lives, rather than something they search for later.

In the realm of education we were able to:

  • Fund Dual Language Education Programs: WA granted $246k in dual language education grants for childcare and early learning classrooms and 1.425 million in dual language K-12 grants, including heritage and indigenous languages!
  • Pass Early Learning Community Pathways Bill that supports a diverse and bilingual early learning workforce by providing language access to meet education requirements.

PASSED KEEP COURTS OPEN TO ALL

OneAmerica Youth speaking with Senator Rebecca Saldana

Since January 2018, there had been over 200 documented civil arrests of immigrants at courthouses in over 18 counties in Washington. The fear of arrest by federal agents prevents equal access to courts for WA residents. In coalition with many partners, we advocated to Keep Courts Open to All and this bill passed and was signed into law on March 18, 2020! This bill:

  • protects all people from warrant less civil immigration arrests at courts
  • prohibits court staff and prosecutors from using state and local justice resources to report people for federal immigration enforcement
  • requires courts to collect data on immigration agents surveillance of courthouses in Washington.

WHAT WE ARE STILL FIGHTING FOR

We did so much amazing work to create a more just and equitable Washington state. Although we have a lot to be thankful for, we also understand that the fight for our rights never ends. We will continue to fight for:

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE – JOIN US

We know that we will continue to bring about great change for our communities through the hard work and dedication of our immigrant and refugee leaders and people like you who support our work.

As we end this session, we are already thinking about what we will fight for next year. Join our movement by making a pledge to contact your legislators next year to pass legislation that will make our community stronger! 

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