Youth Job Readiness Training

Over these past several months, Washington State was one of the epicenters of the Coronavirus pandemic in the USA, resulting in the closure of all public and private schools.

The Youth Job Readiness Training (YJRT) team equipped our participants with tools and resources to continue their schoolwork and involvement in the YJRT program. We have stayed connected with participants throughout these past several months by helping to provide each of them with a laptop and helping them apply to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program to get in-home internet. So far, we have completed the application for ten families, of which six families were approved to receive internet services.

We held regular virtual sessions with our YJRT participants over Zoom to cover concepts, such as the voting process, immigration and voting, community education, and crafting their resumes for the internships they have now secured. Internship sites include: the Port of Seattle, Consulate of Guatemala, Sunrise, Global Visionaries, and El Centro de la Raza.

The YJRT program is not only providing these virtual training sessions to the students but also addressing their essential needs. YJRT families have voiced their concerns about eviction. To prevent evictions, we have been helping them complete rental assistance applications. To help mitigate struggling families’ crises, for instance, we are providing rental and grocery assistance and access to job opportunities. Mil gracias to our funders and individual contributors for making these emergency services possible to our community: rental assistance, a $100 Safeway gift card, the Plate Fund, Bank of America, and MAF.

While we are all experiencing chaotic and challenging circumstances because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parental participation has been nearly perfect. We focus on helping families become economically self-sufficient and providing students and parents with daily emotional support. They are grateful to have someone listen to them or to whom they can talk.

El Centro de la Raza’s Public Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

Haga clic aquí para leer en Español.

The modern-day lynching of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is a devastating tragedy. Nearly six years after Eric Garner’s death in New York, the horrifying scenes captured on video and the eerily reminiscent cries of “I can’t breathe” demonstrate an absence of meaningful change as police continue to take the lives of Black people with callous brutality.

El Centro de la Raza condemns the senseless murder of George Floyd – in the strongest possible terms – as we remember Breonna Tayor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and Philando Castile; at a local level, we remember John T. Williams, Che Taylor, Charleena Lyles, and countless others whose names never made headlines but whose lives were also cut short by anti-Black racism and police violence.

We stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters in saying enough is enough; the time for change is overdue. We demand justice and accountability, not only for the perpetrator, but also for the other officers who stood by in silence. We demand better from our leaders to stop police brutality for our children, families, and communities. There is no excuse to look the other way; no excuse to be complicit; no excuse to oppress communities of color to uphold white supremacy. It falls on us collectively to organize and mobilize.

The waves of uprisings that have ignited across the country is a natural culmination of the anger and pain at the continuous racial terror and violence that police regularly perpetuate in our Black communities. Pain exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionally ravaged the Black community, and a deep economic crisis is hitting those hardest who are at the bottom of the economic ladder.

At the same time, it has been deeply disturbing to witness the frequently violent responses by police toward protestors. Police have violently charged peaceful protestors, driven police vehicles through crowds, shot rubber bullets, sprayed protesters with harmful gases, and punched, kicked, beaten, arrested, and detained people for doing nothing wrong. These assaults on protesters are unacceptable violence. Our communities should be able to protest injustices in our streets without suffering from police violence and militarized responses.

El Centro de la Raza is committed to combatting institutional racism and police brutality in all its forms. Despite decades of effort through multi-racial coalitions to address police misconduct, which has yielded some successes, we are challenged to recognize that our communities are still plagued with police brutality, which was evident this past weekend.

Twelve thousand (12,000) complaints were filed after this past weekend’s demonstrations with Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability. One complaint included an officer placing his knee on the neck area of two people who had been arrested. All this despite the Seattle Police Department (SPD) being under a Federal Consent Decree.

Several weeks ago, the City of Seattle filed a motion with the court to terminate the sustainment areas under the Federal Consent Decree, stating that the Police Department had achieved full and effective compliance for two years under ten key areas. Police Accountability continues to be an area that needs to be addressed by the City.

Discipline and Use of Force are two other areas within the sustainment plan, which should clearly remain on the table for the community, especially in light of the recent and ongoing events that have transpired in Seattle since this past weekend’s protest, and as noted in the sheer number of complaints received in the last few days by the OPA.

In 2015 and 2016, the Community Police Commission submitted recommendations to the use of blast-balls during demonstrations to the Mayor and SPD. Those recommendations are still relevant and necessary. The Mayor’s Office has not fleshed out a methodology for sustaining the reforms needed, and sadly, the need for this has now become front and centered over the weekend.

We will continue to work with Black Leaders and other leaders of color to call for concrete policy proposals to address systemic targeting and violence against Black communities. These policy proposals should include de-militarization, budget reductions, and enhanced transparency, particularly around misconduct and community oversight of police functions.

More often than not, police budgets comprise a significant proportion of discretionary spending and grow steadily year on year. The scope, militarization, and intensity of law enforcement have rapidly increased. In contrast, police have been mistakenly tasked with addressing social problems within communities of color, such as education, mental health, homelessness, and drug abuse.

These dynamics have, in turn, resulted in the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color, often with destructive and deadly consequences and minimal accountability for wrongdoing. As allies, our job is to work with the Black community to demand resources that are invested in Black communities in ways that enhance public safety and enrich our communities rather than simply expand and further militarize police ranks.

The United States is not yet a place where Black lives matter as equally as they must. As we raise our collective voices to demand justice for George Floyd and his family, we do so in continued support and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We will support this movement until Black people no longer have to encounter police violence and die at the hands of law enforcement; until they no longer experience higher levels of poverty, income inequality, lack of access to jobs, and when they no longer face discrimination in housing, educational segregation, and limited access to public transportation.

The complex, hard, and necessary work to undo decades of discrimination and prejudice requires unity, leadership, and action. We will continue to work with Black community leaders and other leaders of color towards creating a more inclusive, safe, and just nation, which we believe the vast majority of Americans want. We stand ready to pursue the policy changes that will begin to root out the structural racism and injustice that led to George Floyd’s tragic death and those of many others.

Ways to take action now
 Donate to the George Floyd Memorial Fund.
 Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
 Donate to Black Visions Collective.
 Donate funds or supplies to the healthcare workers aiding and protecting protestors (Northstar Health Collective Medics).
 Support the activists working on the frontlines in Minnesota (Reclaim the Block).
 Register to vote or update your voter registration information by visiting your state’s Secretary of State’s website (King County | Washington State).

Submit Public Comment to Oppose USCIS’ Changes to Fee Schedule by December 16

On November 14, the administration published a proposed new fee schedule that would increase fees for some of the most commonly used immigration applications by our community, putting them out of reach for many low-income immigrants. We are encouraging our supporters to comment in opposition to the proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by December 16.*

·  Increasing the cost of citizenship application fees by 83%.

·  Requiring asylum-seekers to pay a $50 application fee and $490 for a work permit.

·  Increasing the cost of DACA renewals from $495 to $765.

·  Eliminating fee waivers for citizenship, lawful permanent residency, and others.

·  Transferring $207.6 million in application fees from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ICE for enforcement purposes, including denaturalization.

We will not tolerate this hatred and are taking action because everyone is welcome in our country. Stand with us in fighting back to protect and defend our communities by submitting a public comment to oppose this proposed regulation.

Instructions for submitting a public comment by December 16 at 11:59 PM (EST):

  1. Navigate to the proposed regulation by clicking here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCIS-2019-0010-0001.
  2. In the top right corner of the webpage, you should see a blue button named “Comment now!” Click on that button and you will be directed to another page where you can either type in or paste your comment into the textbox. The website also mandates that you upload your comment as a file.
  3. After you finish writing your comment, be sure to verify that you completed all the required fields.
  4. On the next page, you will review your comment before submitting it.

If you would like additional guidance for submitting a public comment, please click here to view Clinic Legal’s step-by-step instructions.

*Credit: UnidosUS

All Three José Martí Child Development Center Sites are Early Achievers Centers of Excellence

We are very proud to announce that this spring, all classrooms of the José Martí Child Development Center (JMCDC) on Beacon Hill received designation as high quality centers of excellence by Early Achievers! Our longest-operating classes in the El Centro de la Raza building maintained their previously reached level 4, and our newest classrooms in Plaza Roberto Maestas reached level 3 for their first rating.

Early Achievers is Washington State’s Quality Rating and Improvement System and evaluates programs in five quality standards: child outcomes, interactions and environment, curriculum and staff support, family engagement and partnerships, and staff professionalism. The evaluation process includes a site visit from the University of Washington to review children and classroom files and an extensive File of Supporting Materials, as well as classroom evaluations using the CLASS and ERS assessments, which focus on the learning environment and interactions between teachers and children.

On Friday, June 21, the teachers and staff at JMCDC celebrated this wonderful accomplishment on Beacon Hill with a catered dinner and awards presentation to each of the staff who worked hard to reach and maintain this high level of quality. Congratulations to all of our JMCDC staff whose dedication and commitment made this possible, and also a huge thanks to our coaches Elidia Sangerman, Leah Breish, and Bob Findlay, who supported us throughout the entire process.

With the previous announcement that JMCDC at Hirabayashi also received a level 3 score, we are very proud that all three JMCDC sites have achieved this valuable designation, to continue providing high quality, dual-language education to our children and embodying our often-used quote by José Martí: “Para los niños trabajamos, porque ellos son los que saben amar, porque ellos son la esperanza del mundo.” This translates into, “It is for the children that we work, for they are the ones who know how to love, for they are the hope of the world.”

How to Contact your King County Councilmembers

To begin, click here to verify in which district you live. Your district number should correspond to that of the King County Councilmember. Click on your Councilmember’s name to be directed to their contact information:

Councilmember Rod Dembowski, District 1

Councilmember Larry Gossett, District 2

Councilmember Kathy Lambert, District 3

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, District 4

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, District 5

Councilmember Claudia Balducci, District 6

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, District 7

Councilmember Joe McDermott, District 8

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, District 9

How to Contact your City Councilmembers

To begin, click here to verify in which district you live. Your district number should correspond to that of the Seattle City Councilmember. Click on your Councilmember’s name to be directed to their contact information:

District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold

District 2 Council President Bruce Harrell

District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant

District 4 Councilmember Abel Pacheco

District 5 Councilmember Debora Juarez

District 6 Councilmember Mike O’Brien

District 7 Councilmember Sally Bagshaw

Districts At-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

Districts At-large Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzáez

2020 Census Count

Our Constitution requires every single person living in the United States to be counted every decade. The resulting data that come from the completion of the Census questionnaire will set the tone for our democracy during the next ten years. Census data guide financial decisions, which impact the livelihoods of all communities including ones that identify as migratory, homeless, or hard-to-count.

Put simply, Census data determine the amount of political representation and federal funding for Washington State. From re-drawing the district lines, to determining the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representative, to distributing more than $800 billion in federal funding across the entire country. Those funds are allocated based on housing, healthcare, schools, highway planning and constructions, and early childhood education needs. Our state expects to receive $16 billion for the next ten years. However, with first-time changes to the Census questionnaire, communities of color anticipate facing critical challenges that pose a severe threat to a full, fair, and accurate Census count:

For the first time in history since 1790, the Internet will serve as the primary response option. Starting as early as March through July 2020, about 80% of households will be receiving an email invitation to complete the Census questionnaire online. Communities that do not have access to the Internet readily or are unfamiliar with technology may not be captured in the Census count.

The Secretary of the Commerce who plays a role in administering the Census made a last-minute decision to add the untested and unnecessary citizenship question to the form. In the 2010 Census, we did not have these challenges and, yet, 1 million children were undercounted of whom 400,000 identified as Hispanics. This staggering undercount cannot occur in 2020.

Every household must complete a questionnaire online or by phone or mail. Households must answer questions based on information as of April 1. For example, the number of people living in one’s household on April 1. There is a different process to count individuals who are homeless or live in hard-to-count areas. Their questionnaires will ask the following: name, age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, tenure (owner/renter), and the relationship to a member of the household.

El Centro de la Raza is in full force preparing for the upcoming Census 2020 count. We are working in strong coalitions with other community-based organizations. Each organization plays a critical role in educating our communities about the challenges of this year’s Census and reminding them to be counted. Every community must be represented in the Census to ensure that every individual receives the resources to which they are entitled. The Census is more than an accurate account of the population. It is ultimately about equality. ¡Háganse Contar!

For more information or questions about the upcoming 2020 Census, you can contact us by emailing census2020@elcentrodelaraza.org or call 206-957-4605. For a list of FAQs, you can view them here.

View our new Sensitive Location Toolkit here

Please click the link below to view our Sensitive Location Toolkit in PDF form:

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What is a Sensitive Location?

On October 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued an administrative memorandum entitled “Enforcement Actions at or Focused on Sensitive Locations,” which set forth the agency’s policy regarding enforcement actions in places that are recognized as sensitive locations. The policy, which remains in full force and effect, restricts enforcement actions, such as arrests, interviews and surveillance for purposes of immigration enforcement in places recognized as sensitive locations. The sensitive locations covered by the policy include, but are not limited to: schools, hospitals, places of worship, and public demonstrations such as marches, rallies or parades.

In effort to protect our visitors and the population we serve, in February 2017 as a school, El Centro de la Raza declared itself a sensitive location and adopted and implemented internal procedures that allow us to react promptly and effectively in the event of a visit by immigration agents to our premises. In addition, in recognition of the potential and capability of sensitive locations to protect and ensure the rights of immigrant populations, El Centro de la Raza has been encouraging other entities and organizations to recognize and designate themselves as sensitive locations and adopt measures that will contribute to protecting the immigrant population they serve.

Seniors Surviving on Low Income: Ms. Lew’s Story

Ms. Lew is a senior and homeowner living in Beacon Hill for over 20 years. A limited English speaker and no one with whom to live, she was grateful to access services at El Centro de la Raza. Her living arrangement is different than her peers, predisposing her to the hardship of instrumental activities of daily living. She learned about the Community Connector Program through her regular visits to our Food Bank. She became acquainted quickly and developed a trusting relationship with the program staff. Click here to read how trust can lead to empowerment.

Ms. Lew brought in her letters, including one that involved property taxes. Had it not been for the program staff, Ms. Lew would have paid more than she could afford toward her property tax. Low-income seniors live on fixed incomes and are concerned about paying property taxes on a home that is worth millions of dollars today. Our program staff helped Ms. Lew apply for a property tax exemption and renewed her lifeline assistance for her home phone.

During a politically delicate time, Ms. Lew has found a second home at El Centro de la Raza where she can speak her own language and feel safe. She has referred her neighbors and friends in need to resolve transportation challenges and food insecurity. Ms. Lew is very thankful to El Centro de la Raza for offering companionship and providing services like the Food Bank, translation, and benefits enrollment.

This holiday season, please consider donating to a program that helps low-income seniors make ends meet and develop friendships along the way.

What a citizenship question on the Census could mean

Oppose the Department of Commerce by August 7 from adding the insidious question about citizenship status on the 2020 U.S. Census.

Policymakers rely on the American Community Survey and U.S. Census to allocate resources for government services. Both datasets fail to reflect the presence of communities of color in the United States where their representation is historically disproportionate. A controversial question in the upcoming 2020 count threatens to strip away the economic, social, political, and legal rights of people of color.

The Department of Commerce plans to gather complete and accurate information by including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire. We fear that the collection of citizenship information will be used against families and ultimately suppress the number of responses. By removing that question, we ensure a full, fair, and accurate count. Those are the principles of the U.S. Census.

We have seen the devastating, disconcerting, and detrimental impacts of the current administration’s anti-immigrant practices and policies on our children and families. Therefore, it is imperative to urge the Secretary of Commerce to reverse the misguided decision to add a citizenship question on the next Census form.

We hope you join us in this fight to remove this untested question and speak up for those whose voices have been oppressed.