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

Some of the darkest chapters in our nation’s 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’s 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… parents, especially in moments of extreme distress and displacement, has [a] very negative impact on child well being, mental health, and development.” 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’s 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

Ruben’s Story

Ruben was born with a cleft palate and a hand deformity. He had previously been referred to and was attending a program for students with special needs, but his parents felt that he was not being challenged intellectually since most of his peers had varying levels of developmental disabilities.

A family friend mentioned their positive experience at El Centro de la Raza, so the family applied and Ruben qualified for the free part-day ECEAP program. He started in the José Martí Child Development Center in September 2017.

When Ruben first started at the age of 3, he was very shy and introverted, cried frequently, and he didn’t want to try anything by himself. After observing Ruben, the teachers developed an Individual Learning Plan and encouraged his social-emotional development through culturally-relevant activities in his first language (Spanish). As his self-esteem grew, Ruben became more confident in his abilities and self-help skills, such as using the bathroom on his own, and the social emotional support really helped Ruben develop the confidence needed to grow in other areas of development.

Now, after seven months in the program, Ruben happily participates in class, socializes with his peers and shows initiative in trying and completing different activities. He practices fine motor activities and is able to write his own name and cut different shapes with scissors. Ruben loves to sing and dance; and after an operation on his tongue, his language abilities continue to advance as he pronounces sounds well for his age level and uses increasingly complex sentences.

Ruben’s parents are also very happy with the changes they have seen in their child. They support his development at home by providing him with puzzles and other challenging activities, and they encourage his independence and confidence to complete tasks on his own.

Ruben continues to receive physical therapy, so in conjunction with our dual-language, culturally appropriate curriculum, Ruben is supported in all areas of development, and after the second developmental assessment of this school year (one more to go), Ruben has already made significant growth and/or is meeting widely-held expectations for his age group in almost all areas of development. Ruben has one more year of preschool before kindergarten, but at the rate he’s going, Ruben is on track for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Sabor Delicioso’s Story

When two people have a passion for cooking, they start their own business. That was what LuLu and Hilda did. They have always wanted a food establishment to call their own. To learn what it would take to become successful owners, they turned to the Business Opportunity Center at El Centro de la Raza.

The Business Opportunity Center (BOC) introduced the concept of a food cart to LuLu and Hilda. Without a formal foundation of building a business, the BOC guided them through the grueling application process of applying for a permit. Some time after submitting their comprehensive blueprint design to the City of Seattle’s Health Department, LuLu and Hilda started their business on April 1, 2018.

However, the endeavor of LuLu and Hilda was not without sacrifices. While their pursuing a food business has opened doors for them, they are challenged by striking a balance between working and spending time with family during the evenings. When inquired about other adversities, they shared a look of mutual respect for overcoming unseen challenges as a team: from responding to public demand and competition from other cart vendors, to abiding by the Department of Health’s guidelines, to tracking their operating costs, and to facing the exposure of Seattle’s weather conditions.

In spite of those trials and tribulations, for the first time in a long time, LuLu and Hilda feel like they are investing in their economic access, opportunity, and stability; but more importantly, in themselves. They feel proud to be contributing back to their households and having their families’ unwavering support. Along the way, they also grew more confident in their use of technology to promote their business.

When asked what is next for them, their eyes glowed, and they said with dignity: a restaurant. (Currently, they offer catering services.) For now, stop by their food cart at Plaza Roberto Maestas and get your fill of Mexican street food. They make their dishes from scratch, including the popular huarache and nachos dishes (for $8!). When you support people like LuLu and Hilda, you are also touching the lives of their families.

Check them out on Uber Eats and Facebook!

Job Openings at El Centro de la Raza!

El Centro de la Raza is Now Hiring! 

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.

#GiveBIG Now at givebigseattle.org to Score Sounders Tickets or Autographed Jersey!

#GiveBIG Now at www.givebigseattle.org/el-centro-de-la-raza to Score Sounders Tickets or Autographed Jersey!

We are excited to announce that Sounders FC is supporting our efforts again for The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig event on May 9. Osvaldo “Ozzie” Alonso has selected El Centro de la Raza as his GiveBIG nonprofit of choice! Mil gracias to Ozzie Alonso for choosing to support us, and to everyone who has scheduled their donations in advance!

El Centro de la Raza was founded 46 years ago when we first envisioned a world free of oppression based on poverty, racism, sexism, sexual orientation, and discrimination of any kind that limits equal access to the resources that ensure a healthy and productive life in peace, love and harmony for all peoples and our future generations.

We encourage donors to help us uphold our vision founded 46 years ago by donating $46 to El Centro de la Raza for #GiveBIG2018. Your gift will go towards awarding ten high school seniors each the Roberto Felipe Maestas Scholarship to attend the higher education institution of their choice, and continue to fund our other youth-focused programs so that children can establish a proper foundation on which they can thrive as a productive community member.

When you give to us for GiveBig, you could be randomly selected to receive a pair of tickets to Sounders FC v. Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, May 26. The match begins at 2:00 PM. We will also select at random another donor to receive an autographed jersey from Ozzie Alonso. We will leave it to you to decide your custom message from Ozzie!

Volunteers for Pregones de mi Tierra

The Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle (MAS) is looking for volunteers to assist with their spring concert called “Pregones de mi tierra” on Saturday, June 9, from 4 PM to 8 PM at Plaza Roberto Maestas. Click here to learn more about the available volunteer opportunities.

MAS activates and empowers communities through art by raising awareness about the history and cultural contributions of Latinos of African descent. This free event is sponsored by 4Culture and supported by El Centro de la Raza.

Rest in Power

Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney was a trusted pastor, civil rights advocate, and visionary leader. During his lifetime, he recognized many injustices facing communities of color and was moved to take action. Dr. McKinney was compelled to give his fellow community members a stronger voice by protesting peacefully. He saw the civil rights era as a more prominent movement to promote stronger protection rights for all people. We are an extension of Dr. McKinney’s work because our community members continue to face social, political, economic, and legal injustices. However, his passion for and legacy of social justice remain a source of inspiration to us. We continue to keep his loved ones in our hearts and thoughts. Read Dr. McKinney’s obituary, here.

We March for Workers like Aureliano

Aureliano arrived at El Centro de la Raza where he initially requested assistance for translation services. He had received a box from CenturyLink though never subscribed to such a service himself. Could it be that someone was using his identity?

One of our case managers at El Centro de la Raza then called CenturyLink on Aureliano’s behalf to inquire about the unsought box. It turned out that CenturyLink had dispatched the equipment in advance of obtaining Aureliano’s signature. While someone had used Aureliano’s identity to acquire telecommunication services, he was free of any liabilities.

That case manager identified another opportunity to further assist Aureliano by asking him about his experience with pulling credit reports, a management tool to track his credit history. Aureliano had yet to request one. With his consent, the case manager proceeded to help him obtain his first credit report on the spot.

Moments later after downloading Aureliano’s credit report, he was staggered to discover that he was liable for $30,895 in collection debt, much to which he was not privy. He had never received any bill notifications related to the list of unfamiliar expenses. Aureliano and his case manager acted immediately by challenging the supposed debt across eleven accounts. On that same day, they prepared and submitted debt validation letters to multiple creditors.

After roughly three weeks of anticipation, Aureliano was able to breathe a deep sigh of relief as the weight of $28,000 dissipated from his shoulders. An insurance company had mistakenly billed Aureliano and thus issued a reversal notice. Aureliano’s name was no longer tied to that enormous debt.

Today, Aureliano remains on the right path towards financial empowerment. He meets monthly with his case manager at El Centro de la Raza where he has demonstrated with proficiency how to complete and maintain a budget. He continues to save despite living from paycheck to paycheck.

El Centro de la Raza’s 2017 Community Needs Assessment

El Centro de la Raza conducts a formal Community Needs Assessment every three years to summarize the current needs of the Latino community in our region. This assessment directly informs El Centro de la Raza’s organizational strategic planning process to design, improve and sustain effective programs and services that best serve the community’s needs. It’s also used to advocate for the community at the local and state level.

For this year’s Community Needs Assessment, we conducted two studies using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. CBPR engages community members as leaders in planning and implementing the study as well as analyzing and creating a plan of action from the results. This approach maintains accountability to communities most impacted by the issues studied.

We found that the top three concerns in our community are in the areas of employment, discrimination, and housing. The most pressing needs are for secure, family-wage jobs; safety from interpersonal and institutional discrimination on the basis of race, language, and immigration status; and for affordable housing with access to transit, stores and businesses, and childcare. The complete report (available here) covers these findings in more detail, and includes information about the other six areas we studied (education, healthcare, financial stability, transportation, nutrition/food access, and service utilization).

El Centro de la Raza’s leadership team is developing recommendations based on our findings for service providers, funders, and advocacy work. We will release a report summarizing these recommendations later this year.

Read the Community Needs Assessment here.