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.*

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

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

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

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

路  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 Jos茅 Mart铆 Child Development Center Sites are Early Achievers Centers of Excellence

We are very proud to announce that this spring, all classrooms of the Jos茅 Mart铆 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鈥檚 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 Jos茅 Mart铆: 鈥淧ara los ni帽os trabajamos, porque ellos son los que saben amar, porque ellos son la esperanza del mundo.鈥 This translates into, 鈥淚t 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.鈥

How to Contact your King County Councilmembers

To begin,聽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鈥檚 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 Gonz谩ez

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鈥檚 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鈥檚 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. 隆H谩ganse 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 鈥淓nforcement Actions at or Focused on Sensitive Locations,鈥 which set forth the agency鈥檚 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聽insidious question about citizenship status on the 2020 U.S.聽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聽communities of color in the United States where their representation is historically聽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聽a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire.聽We聽fear that the collection of citizenship information will be used against families and ultimately suppress聽the number of聽responses.聽By removing that question, we ensure a聽full, fair, and accurate count. Those are the principles of the U.S. Census.

We have seen the devastating, disconcerting, and detrimental聽impacts of the聽current聽administration’s anti-immigrant practices and policies on our聽children and families.聽Therefore, it is imperative to聽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聽speak聽up for those whose voices have been oppressed.

Our children are the world’s hope for justice for all

Some of the darkest chapters in our nation鈥檚 history involve the barbaric act of taking children from their parents: Black children were sold as property during slavery, and Native American children were stolen to strip them of their culture. Now it is the children of the immigrant Latino community that is being victimized by Trump鈥檚 policies to halt undocumented immigration and asylum seekers.

Impacts of Family Separation on Children’s Development
Trump is violating the human rights of innocent children. Babies as young as 12 months old are being separated from their mothers. That act is child abuse. Starting in October 2016, nearly 1,800 immigrant families faced forced separation. However, since Trump took office, his administration has only inflated that figure. If we were to take a snapshot of his policies, we see that between May 6 and May 19 in 2018, 658 children were separated from 638 parents.

Separating children from their parents is so traumatic for their developing brains that it should be considered inhumane. Doctors state that separation will predispose affected children to a lifetime of health problems. According to Dr. Lisa Fortuna, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Boston Medical Center, “Separations from鈥 parents, especially in moments of extreme distress and displacement, has [a] very negative impact on child well being, mental health, and development.鈥 Those effects are not only detrimental but also irreversible.

False Rhetoric about Immigrant Communities
Latino children and parents are being torn apart as a mid-term election strategy for Trump to mobilize his base. Our children are being given up as political red meat while Trump is using dog whistle language claiming they are not like your children. Therefore, they are less than human.

The Department of Justice鈥檚 Zero Tolerance Policy of separating children from their parents at the border is immoral and sinful. This is not who we are as a people. This is not who we are as a country. Our values are compassion and empathy for the most vulnerable. We do not abandon those that experienced persecution, trauma, and extreme distress.

We are in a time when many vulnerable communities are demanding legal representation and protection. Therefore, we must not normalize the fears carried by immigrant families that they will be raided and persecuted. Immigrants and asylum seekers should not be used in the political rhetoric as a scapegoat to make the U.S. vulnerable. However, the effects of stricter immigration enforcement weaken our country. For example, in December 2017, NPR has reported on the anticipated landscape worker shortage as a result of the policy enforcement. We are hearing stories coming from Ohio that owners are struggling to address the shortage issue.

Take Action Now
We call upon men, women, youth, and all other people of good will to DEFEND OUR CHILDREN. We need your help in making calls, sending emails to your Congressional delegation, using your voice, and visiting holding sites to shed light on these injustices. Use all your power to force the administration to end these cruel abuses. Our children as all children should be the hope of the world. Please join us in dismantling the barbaric practice of separating families at the border by:

Urging your elected officials to support the passages of the bipartisan HELP Separated Children Act (H.R. 5950 | S.B. 2937).
Pressuring the Department of Homeland Security to abandon the costly and inhumane practice of separating families.

For more information, please click here for a timeline of Trump rolling back protections for children and what is a myth and what is a fact.

Senators:

Patty Murray: 206-553-5545

Maria Cantwell: 206-220-6400

District Representatives:

Suzan DelBene: 425-485-0085

Rick Larsen: 425-252-3188

Jaime Herrera Beutler: 360-695-6292

Dan Newhouse: 509-713-7374

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: 509-529-9358

Derek Kilmer: 360-797-3623

Pramila Jayapal: 206-674-0040

David Reichert: 425-677-7414

Adam Smith: 425-793-5180

Denny Heck: 253-533-8332

Job Openings at El Centro de la Raza!

El Centro de la Raza is Now Hiring!聽

Click here for a list of all current job openings here at El Centro de la Raza! We are hiring for a variety of positions and are looking for experienced and passionate individuals to join our staff as we work to build the Beloved Community.

If you or anyone you know is interested in working at El Centro de la Raza, please contact Shannon Armstrong at sarmstrong@elcentrodelaraza.org, or 206-957-4626.