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33 women arrested calling for action on immigration reform


Lynne Dodson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, is arrested at an immigration reform protest Nov. 7 outside the office of the Washington State Republican Party.

The Stand

BELLEVUE (Nov. 8, 2013) — A resolute and joyful group of women — community activists, union leaders and members, students, workers, business women, teachers, nurses, civic leaders  — ranging in age from their early 20s through their 60s, multi-racial and bound together in our determination, went to the offices of the Washington State Republican Party to urge our delegation to take action for comprehensive immigration reform. We were determined to stay in the Republican Party offices until our state’s Congressional delegation took action — either by signing on to HR 15, or demanding that House Speaker John Boehner bring the legislation to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While more than 100 activists walked over a mile through the driving rain, made joyful noise in the lobby, then moved outside to show their support, 33 women asked our Republican Congressional delegation to stand up and act. In Washington state, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) is the senior Republican woman in the House and Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) chairs the women’s caucus of the Republican Party. Reps. Doc Hastings and Dave Reichert know that their districts’ economies depend upon the work of immigrants. Some of their Republican colleagues have already signed on the HR 15 — it’s long past time they did as well.

Most of the 33 women who participated in yesterday’s action had no experience with civil disobedience and were arrested for the first time.

As we sat, stood, sang, and spoke to Republican Party staff, women talked about their reasons for participating. We heard from teachers about students afraid to come to school, not sure their parents would be home when they returned; women from mixed status families, living in fear that loved ones would be deported; domestic violence advocates who work with women afraid to report abuse, union activists who see workers subjected to wage theft and exploitation; community activists and college teachers who see student’s dreams stifled when they learn financial aid is not an option.

dodson-bellevue-arrest-groupIt became clear pretty quickly that Republican Party staffers were not going to get word from our U.S. Representatives that they would act. But we planned to stay, and armed with our voices, courage, and Heather Villanueva’s ukelele, we waited. We were asked to call back, we were asked to leave. But the time is long overdue for fair immigration reform, millions of women and families are impacted everyday by our failure to pass common sense reforms and we were buoyed by our local supporters and women activists around the country calling for change. We would not be moved.

Until we were.

Bellevue police, who were present throughout (and very professional) arrested all 33 of us. Though we were nervous, we were strong, and our resolve was strengthened and our spirits buoyed as we left the building to see our friends (including Washington State Labor Council staff Kamaria, Justine, Bill, Caitlyn and Kathy!) cheering us on outside.

Susan Hutchinson, chair of the Republican Party in Washington, sent out a statement agreeing the time is right for immigration reform. We’ll be following up with her and we will continue to press our delegation to do the right thing for their constituents. We demand they have the courage to stand on the right side of history and support immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship, keeps families united, and treats women fairly.

Many thanks to Washington CAN, Alliance for a Just Society, and We Belong Together for a beautifully organized event and to the women who stood strong and proud (and really sang beautifully!) for their sisters.  Karen Strickland – AFT Washington; Sharon Maeda and Marissa Vichayapai – 21 Progress; Hilary Stern and Carino Barragan, Casa Latina; Teresa Clark, Gabi Sanchez-Stern, Maribel Perez, Lisa Dekker, and Claudia Chika from WACAN; Kristyn Joy and Alicia Moreno-Got Green; Jill Reese – Alliance for a Just Society; Ellie Menzies– SEIU Healthcare 1199; Heather Villanueva – SEIU Healthcare 775; Elena Perez, Faviola Lopez, and Kendra Anderson – UFCW 21; Eldean Montgomery – SEIU 6; Sam Keller – SAGE; Tagiopah Mathno and Priscilla Kyu – Nat. Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; Connie Burk-NW Network; Peggy Lynch-We Belong Together; Hilda Magana and Brenda Mendoza Alamo-El Centro De La Raza; Kim Mead and Patricia Benavides-WEA; Aaliyah Gupta; Ginny NiCarthy; and Kia Dodson Sanger.

Also, check out this press release from We Belong Together about all of the actions.

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