If I had a dollar for everyone who has asked me what they should be doing to help immigrants this week, I’d have at least $100 more to give to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project this very minute. Aside from giving generously to NWIRP and other immigrant rights causes, here’s what I recommend everyone do this coming week:
1. Re-frame the Conversation
Too often, conversations about immigration are framed in terms of United States hospitality and generosity; but that frame ignores some pretty fundamental historical truths. The reality is that there are only five countries on the entire planet that were never colonized by white people.
Colonialism wasn’t benevolent. It was about the extraction of value from the colonized nations in the form of slave labor, gemstones, precious metals, and other natural resources. Nations that were colonized were left traumatized, with dysfunctional leadership and impoverished economies. Meanwhile, the “first world” developed our infrastructure and economies using stolen resources and enslaved labor.
It’s no coincidence that the bulk of undocumented immigrants come from countries that were colonized or controlled by Europe. Ever notice how there’s no such thing as a rich undocumented immigrant? That’s because rich people, and people from rich, stable countries can afford to wait for years and pay lawyers to deal with the ridiculously complicated US immigration system. People living with the poverty and instability that naturally result from colonialism do not have the luxury of time or attorney’s fees. They turn up at our borders as refugees and asylum seekers, or else they overstay tourist visas or cross deserts in the dead of night for a chance at a better life.
People don’t do this kind of thing for fun. There’s no nefarious ulterior motive here. The simple truth is that many immigrants are in desperate circumstances because our ancestors took everything from their ancestors. They are coming to benefit from the systems and infrastructure our ancestors built using those stolen resources. When you think about immigration in those terms, you suddenly realize an inescapable fact: we owe them. We must popularize this understanding and ensure that every decision we make with regards to immigration reflects historical reality.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Movement’s Demands
The Seattle Families Belong Together Coalition is comprised of dozens of groups and is led by communities most impacted by our increasingly xenophobic and white supremacist immigration policy. Our leadership has directed us to release these four demands:
- No Washington National Guard troops will enforce immigration policy here or at the border for the foreseeable future.
- The Washington State Legislature and Governor Inslee will make passing the Keep Washington Working Act (SB 5689, HB 1985) their top priority for the new legislative session. This legislation, originally crafted by Senator Lisa Wellman (District 41), will limit Washington State law enforcement’s involvement with immigration enforcement and will prioritize keeping Washington’s economy functioning over deporting hardworking, valuable members of our communities.
- Washington corporations Amazon and Microsoft will stop providing digital communications and surveillance infrastructure to immigration enforcement. Greyhound and it’s locally-based subsidiary Bolt Bus will stop allowing ICE and CPB officers to board their buses and demand immigration papers from their passengers.
- All Washington Members of Congress will support the Keep Families Together Act (HR 6135). The holdouts are Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R – WA 5), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R – WA 3), Dan Newhouse (R – WA 4), and Dave Reichert (R – WA 8).
The Coalition is organizing a week of protests, starting Saturday June 30, to bring these demands forward in our communities.
3. Protest! (Even if it Makes You Uncomfortable.)
Big crowds are overwhelming and protests are inherently risky environments. It’s easy to understand why many people do not enjoy protesting; but… we really need you in the streets right now. Protests become safer the more people show up. It’s harder to push around a crowd of 100 than a group of 10, and that becomes exponentially more true when the crowd gets larger, so please come and bring your friends.
If you really can’t make it, there are of ways to help us prepare. (And a few ways to say “I love you” to the activist in your life.) Here are the protests and protest-related events I’m aware of so far this week. I will keep this list updated as more information becomes available:
Friday (6/29): Preparation and Learning Events
- Pramilla Jayapal’s office is doing an “Art Build & Teach-In” about ending family detention from 4-6pm at the School of Visual Concepts: 300 7th Ave, Ste B, Seattle, Washington 98121. (Facebook event.)
- The Riveter, Seattle’s feminist co-working space, is hosting a sign making party for Saturday’s big protest from 4-6pm at their Capitol Hill location: 1517 12th Avenue Suite 101 Seattle, WA 98122. (More info on the Riveter website.)
Saturday (6/30): Families Belong Together in Sea Tac
- The Seattle Families Belong Together Coalition is organizing a protest outside the Sea-Tac Federal Prison at 11am. (Facebook event.) This is part of a nationwide day of action on family detention and separation. The Federal Prison is at 2425 S 200th St, Seattle, WA 98198, one block from the Angle Lake light rail station. Parking there is scarce, so I highly recommend taking the Light Rail and leaving plenty of time because it’s going to be crowded.
Sunday (7/1): Solidarity Day at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma
- The Northwest Detention Center Resistance is organizing a Solidarity Day protest from 1:30 – 4pm at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The Northwest Detention Center is located at 1623 E J St, Tacoma, Washington 98421. (Facebook event.)
Monday (7/2): Ponte en mis Zapatos (“Put yourself in my shoes”) at US Customs and Immigration Services in Tukwilla
- One America, Casa Latina, and the Washington Community Action Network will be putting thousands of pairs of baby and children’s shoes out in front of the USCIS building at 2500 Tukwila International Blvd, Tukwila, WA 98168 to make it clear how many kids are being devastated by this horrific family separation and detention policy and demand that immigrant children be reunited with their parents immediately. (Facebook event.)
- If you cannot attend, please drop off or mail the shoes to Casa Latina, 317 17th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144. Shoes will be donated to WestSide Baby, which will distribute them to immigrant and refugee children.
Tuesday (7/3): Daily Vigils at ICE Court
- The Community Alliance for Global Justice has been hosting a vigil for human rights every weekday morning from 8-10am outside of the ICE Court offices at 1000 2nd Ave, Seattle, Washington 98104. The Seattle Coalition will be hosting extended hours on July 3 until 1pm at the site. (Facebook event.)
Wednesday (7/4), Thursday (7/5), and Friday (7/6) – TBA & Saturday (7/7): Activist Symposium at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound
- Stay tuned for announcements from the coalition for these dates. This post and the Facebook event for the 6/30 event at Sea Tac will be updated with more information about the back half of the week.