Vashon Island: A Model of Commitment and Support to Immigrants

On the occasion of the multiple and constant messages from the federal administration targeting and threatening immigrant people, particularly from Latin America, the community on Vashon Island has joined forces and directed its efforts to effectively protect its immigrant residents. To achieve this, the community has been educated on how to better serve immigrant members and has sought ways to protect them from immigration enforcement actions. For these purposes, the community of Vashon has been working closely with El Centro de la Raza.        

In October 2019, Vashon Youth and Family Services invited ECDLR to lead a Know Your Rights workshop for Latin immigrant families on their rights in the event that they have to interact with immigration agents. American citizens interested in contributing to building a safer and welcoming space for their immigrant neighbors also attended the workshop.

After the workshop, several representatives from educational institutions, healthcare centers and places of worship on the island expressed their interest in joining ECDLR’s initiative on sensitive locations. Sensitive locations are places where immigration agents have restricted access. ECDLR has been promoting sensitive locations through outreach that includes training sessions, educational materials and the use of a common symbol (created by ECDLR to aid in the identification of sensitive locations). ECDLR hosted an information session on sensitive locations on the island and diverse institutions have implemented the symbol by placing banners provided by ECDLR at no cost on their front doors. Chautauqua Elementary School, McMurray Middle School, Vashon Youth & Family Services and Havurah Ee Shalom are some of the institutions on the island that have implemented the symbol.

Vashon Island is a clear example of how communities can organize and join efforts to create welcoming and safe environments for immigrants and of how together we can explore ways to ensure the protection and effective exercise of their rights. ECDLR is committed in support of these efforts and will keep working closely with Vashon residents to help them continue to build and strengthen their response to immigrant people on the island.

Were you driven by this story? Would you like to host a Know Your Rights workshop or an information session on sensitive locations in your community? For further information on this topic and ideas on how to help, serve and welcome immigrants please contact Adriana Ortiz (Sensitive Locations Project Coordinator) at or (206) 519 4425.

Update and Call to Action: Airport Noise Abatement Bill

Mil gracias for taking action to move forward the Airport Noise Abatement bill (HB 1847). When passed, you will have helped include areas between Beacon Hill and Federal Way as part of the area that is advocating for noise abatement. Currently, the bill is in the Senate Rules Committee, of which Senator Bob Hasegawa is a member. Senator Hasegawa has committed to pulling HB 1847 onto the Senate Floor for a vote. Please help sustain this community-driven momentum by asking Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias to put this bill to a Senate vote. For your convenience, we are including a letter template for you to personalize and then send to Senate Majority Leader Billig and Floor Leader Liias.

The text in the brackets below is intended to prompt you for your information. Please delete the brackets and enclosed text before entering the appropriate information. To identify in which district you live, click here and enter your address. Doing so will help elected officials tally how many community members are in support of this bill’s passage.

To: Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig <>; Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias <>

CC: Senator Bob Hasegawa <>; Maria Batayola <>

Re: Bring HB 1847 to a Senate Vote

Dear Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Senate Floor Leader Marko Liias,

My name is {YOUR-FULL-NAME} and I live at {FULL-ADDRESS} in District {NUMBER}. I ask that you schedule HB 1847 for a vote as soon as possible. {I-MYSELF / I-HAVE-FRIENDS-AND-FAMILY-WHO} live in the affected neighborhood. Airplanes fly overhead every 90 seconds on average, and noise levels are from 70 to 90 decibels, which are well above the standard of 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night.

Please help expand the airport noise abatement area to include the affected neighborhoods between Beacon Hill and Federal Way. Airplane noise adversely impacts the health and well-being of children, adults, and families who live in the area. Passing HB 1847 will make a noticeable difference in {OUR / THEIR} lives. Thank you.



Prospective First-time Home Buyers Get Started

On early February, the Business Opportunity Center (BOC) developed and provided educational training for community members who want to own their first home. Within one week, the Business Opportunity Center finished designing the training. On the day of the training, 66 participants attended and teachers from our José Martí Child Development Center provided childcare. In 2019, the BOC trained 123 prospective home buyers.

All 66 participants successfully completed the required training. We were thrilled with the outcome because we were able to assist communities who face housing affordability issues in our area. The next step is our Financial Empowerment staff will schedule one-on-one sessions with each participant. These sessions are intended to improve their credit situation through lending circles. This resource is a peer-to-peer model that helps participants access a loan with 0% interest while building credit. We are so excited to work with participants so that each of them can own their first home.

El Centro de la Raza’s Staff Service Awards in 2019

Fidencio Angeles

Francisco Martinez

Natasha Zastko

Lizbet Huizar

Martha Diaz

Martha David

Heyda Raymundo

Sharon Hu


Hilda Magaña

Martha Cano
Miguel Maestas

Rocio Espiritu
Bertha Hernandez Ortiz
Martha Garcia

Maria Luisa Aguilera Torres
Iran Barba
Luisa Citlali Beltran

Ana Garcia

Rosalina Alvarez Gutierrez
Martha David
Ceyla Diaz Penaloza
Yaiko Iizuka
Jieying Lei
Juana Mendoza
Luisa Graciela Oviedo
Rocio Ruiz
Fengqin Wang Marolla
Danyuan Zhao

Francisco’s Story

Francisco* has been a participant in our Senior Program for the past two years. He has neither a home nor family members. He faces the elements when he is not sleeping at a shelter. Before the sun rises, he must leave the shelter per policy. As a result, he arrives at El Centro de la Raza earlier than other Senior Program participants in search of a friendly place where he can stay warm.

He enjoys the culturally appropriate meals that we provide in a congregate setting. His favorite dishes have chicken in them, and he also loves to drink coffee. Aside from eating a nutritious meal every day, Francisco is socializing with others who speak his language, rather than isolating himself.

There is more to the Senior Program than a nutritious meal and opportunities to socialize. For example, last year, Francisco joined the computer literacy 8-week class for seniors and learned how to use a laptop.

Thanks to King County’s partnership, El Centro de la Raza is now a Senior Hub. We are expanding the operating days and hours of our Senior Program so that seniors, like Francisco, can now attend our daily programming and have access to resources. Francisco says, “I am so glad you guys are open on Mondays again because I didn’t have anywhere to go on those days.” Francisco greatly benefits from being in our Senior Program because he can remain an independent, engaged, and active community member. We are glad to have him here.

Los Eternos Indocumentados

We have joined 20 local organizations in co-sponsoring a bilingual film showing and discussion of Los Eternos Indocumentados, which tells the story of exploitative corporate control in Latin America, backed by the U.S. government, and how it has led to the plundering of natural resources, incitement of brutal wars, and forced migration. As the crisis of migration grows, this film will give us an opportunity to learn about and share ideas of how to stand in solidarity with fair treatment of the migrant families at our borders.

The Seattle Interfaith Migrant Rights Network (SIMRN) and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA-PNW) are co-hosting this event. Local experts will be present to answer questions during the discussion following the film. Click to learn more about this event and get free tickets. Seats are limited!

Note: The building’s entrance, doorways, and bathrooms are all wheelchair accessible, there will be Spanish interpretation during our discussion, and we will prioritize front row seating for people who are hard of hearing.

Support Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Proposed Legislation

Domestic workers play a critical role in Washington State’s economy. They are mistreated in the sense that they lack legal protection for their employers. In short, they have no basic workers’ rights. Domestic workers, such as nannies and housecleaners, are largely women and people of color. The current law is such that they do not qualify for overtime pay and disproportionately experience workplace harassment and discrimination.

Thanks to OneAmerica’s leadership, other community-based organizations are supporting a proposed statewide bill named Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in this legislative session. They are leading the efforts to address economic inequities for the benefit of our communities. We hope you join us in ensuring that all domestic workers are:

  • Paid at least the minimum wage of Washington State.
  • Guaranteed overtime pay for more than 40 hours of work a week.
  • Entitled to rest and meal breaks, or pay (if breaks must be missed).
  • Protected against employers from confiscating personal documents, such as passports.
  • Neither discriminated against nor harassed.
  • Legally eligible to fight wage theft, harassment, and abuse.

If you believe that all workers, domestic workers included, are entitled to fair wages and basic work protections, please contact your legislators and let them know that you think so. Domestic workers and we need your support to pass this bill. You do not need to be a worker or employer to support this significant proposed legislation.

To take action in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights bill, click here to submit a letter. Enter your contact information and address so that when you proceed onto the next page, the system will recognize in which district you live. This part is important because legislators advocate only for constituents who live in their district. If you would like to include additional commentary into the auto-generated letter, type it directly into the designated box. When you are ready to submit your letter, click the button and the system will automatically forward your letter of support to your legislators.

To call your legislative representatives, verify who represents you based on your geographical area by visiting this link. Enter the required fields with your information and click “Find my District.” A list of elected officials’ names should appear on the screen. These representatives are responsible for advocating in support of your interests and concerns. When you click on each representative’s name, a separate tab will open in the same window of your browser. Navigate to the corresponding tab for your representative’s numbers. When you call, let them know that you want them to vote in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Mil gracias in advance!

Sound Transit Link Light Rail: Connect 2020

Sound Transit has recently announced publically the implementation phase of its Link Light Rail’s forthcoming expansion to the East King County area. They have already begun preparations, and here is what riders need to know.

Rather than shut down service entirely during new track construction, Sound Transit will implement its Connect 2020 plan: over ten weeks in January 2020, trains will run at a reduced frequency of every 12 minutes, and riders continuing through downtown Seattle will need to switch trains at Pioneer Square Station. Passengers will experience longer delays between trains, crowding, and increased travel times.

This major transit line will serve riders to and from East King County at a total of 10 new stations and be operational in 2023. In addition to these changes, to prepare for the aforementioned construction, Sound Transit needs to reduce Link service for three weekends this fall. On the weekends of October 12-13, October 26-27, and November 9-10, there will be no Link service between SODO-Capitol Hill. Trains will run from Angle Lake-SODO and UW-Capitol Hill, and free buses will connect the six stations in between. To learn more, click here to read Sound Transit’s blog post.

*Photo credit: Aaron Kunkler with Redmond Reporter, October 9, 2018.

September 11: From Never Forget to Let’s Remember

September 11. This date is tragic for those who lived in the United States in 2001 and those who lived in Chile in 1973. These historical events are distinct, yet they share a commonality: extreme patriotism that violates human rights.

Our country was shaken up on and decades following September 11, 2001, when four planes targeted the World Trade Center complex and the Pentagon as part of al-Qaeda’s terrorizing plot. This mass murder claimed 2,997 innocent lives; for that, we offer our deepest sympathy for the victims’ loved ones. We also want to change the rhetoric that surrounds 9/11.

We rebuilt our country on one of its worst days. Let us not forget the resilience, kindness, and service that characterized our country’s finest hour and started its healing process. Thank a first responder or recovery worker. Talk to or check in with someone who might be struggling. Befriend someone who does not look like you. Instead of “never forget,” let us remember how our communities united in solidarity in the face of trauma, grief, and xenophobia.

On September 11, 1973, Salvador Allende was assassinated by a coup, ushering in 17 years of dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet’s rule. Allende co-founded Chile’s Socialist Party and was democratically elected as president in 1970. He was also known for his commitment to improving Chile’s conditions for the poor, workers, peasants, and women because they comprised the minority group.

Allende inherited political unrest and an economic crisis, which led the military to overthrow him. A group of the Chilean refugee community escaped from the coupe and arrived in Seattle where the Mexicano/Chicano community and multiracial partners were peacefully occupying the Beacon Hill School. Our Chilean friends were instrumental partners in developing El Centro de la Raza’s infrastructure because of their experience running their home country. In honor of the Chilean refugees, we named a room after Salvador Allende at El Centro de la Raza.

On both occasions, crimes were committed against humanity. International humanitarian laws and human rights were compromised. We civilians endured the fear of armed conflict. To heal a country’s factions requires peace, freedom, and solidarity – all of which can achieved by legal justice, defense of human rights, and measured and fair responses. That is why there is a struggle for justice. That is why we build the Beloved Community.

El Centro de la Raza Listed in National Register of Historic Places

Historically known as the Beacon Hill School, the building that is now owned by El Centro de la Raza was built in two phases and later renovated in 1931. The architecture was ahead of its time and remains mostly intact today. However, the school was forced to vacate and relocate to a more modern facility because of the growing student population. At the same time that was happening, people of color experienced limited access to education and other community resources because of cultural and political factors.

There was no longer a commitment to the War on Poverty. Students at South Seattle College whose English as a Second Language classes were defunded by the Nixon Administration then took action. What that looked like was a peaceful multiracial occupation of the abandoned building. This event pivoted the Chicano/Mexicano movement to the forefront of the minds of local elected officials and school district personnel. Our building quickly became a symbol of Seattle’s Chicano/Mexicano movement. The resulting direct connection with the Chicano/Mexicano community was recognized as a significant contribution to Seattle’s history. It is an honor to be listed as one of the most significant buildings in American history. This recognition helps preserve our building for future generations of which to be a part. Our building’s symbolic value is a timeless representation of multiracial unity during times of peril and prosperity.

We are a thriving hub for all communities to engage in civic action, celebrate culture through art, and increase community sustainability through transit-oriented, mixed-use development. Our 43 programs and services span across five major areas: Child & Youth, Human and Emergency Services, Education and Asset-building, Housing and Economic Development, and Community Organizing and Advocacy. Our on-site amenities include a dual language childcare center, 112 affordable housing units, commercial spaces, and a cultural center available to the community for rental. Visit us and tour our building. We would be happy to share more rich history with you and show our historic building’s murals that narrate the Chicano/Mexicano community’s movement over time.