WIP’s September issue led with the story “Strengthening Sanctuary in our communities”. This Olympia-area network began to take shape after the November 2016 election. People were enthusiastic about Olympia Council member Jessica Bateman’s proposal that Olympia declare itself a Sanctuary City: at a minimum this means that local officials and law enforcement officers will not inquire about anyone’s immigration status. After the resolution passed on December 13, the network formed to strategize how to make sanctuary a reality. One key element has been to shape and support “Know Your Rights” workshops. There have been several KYR workshops in the area—in schools, meeting halls, and churches and other faith institutions. These involve short talks, role-plays, informational support and discussion about specific problems that families are facing.
A key partner in this network is CIELO (www.cieloprograms.org) which is a dedicated bilingual, bi-cultural organization, supporting immigrants in Thurston and Mason counties. Their website Resources section provides vital information on KYR and planning for Family Safety. CIELO and Strengthening Sanctuary, under the guidance of attorney Steffani Powell, are working to stay current on the ever-changing landscape in immigration law (threats to DACA – Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals – is one key area). CIELO now has a second office, in Shelton, and both groups are working on creating closer relationships with immigrant rights organizations in nearby communities. They are also connecting with regional efforts through networks like the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (www.waisn.org) which is building a hotline and text alert system on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) actions. A group taking on the broad policy arena is the Dignity Campaign (www.dignitycampaign.net) which proposes immigration reform grounded in human rights principles.
Want to get involved in Strengthening Sanctuary? Contact Lin Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.