Community and Business Leader Prevented from Filing to Run in Yakima’s 1st City Council District Due to Inaction on DACA, Broken Immigration System

On May 16, 2019 Yakima resident, community leader and DACA recipient, Rocío Carrión, along with a group of campaign supporters, symbolically filed to run for office Yakima City Council, District 1.

“I believe it’s time for me to run for local office. I am a DACA recipient who is passionate about representing the people in my community as the council member for Yakima City Council District 1,” said Carrión. “But sadly, because of our country’s broken immigration system and local laws prohibiting people like me from running for office, that dream cannot become a reality right now. It is time for someone to step up and challenge the policies that prohibit me from filing for elected office,” she continued. “That is why I went to the Auditor’s Office today to announce my intention to run for Yakima City Council despite my citizenship status.”

A proven community advocate and local leader, Carrión’s qualifications for office include running a local business, I AM Empowerment LLC; serving as Vice-Chair of the Yakima Community Integration Committee; sitting on the board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; and working to reduce gang violence in her community.

“It’s past time that Congress granted Carrión and hundreds of thousands of other Americans their civil rights to vote and run for office,” stated OneAmerica’s Deputy Director Roxana Norouzi. “Our broken immigration system is preventing a generation of new youth leaders from stepping up to serve their communities by running for office.”

Carrión is unable to exercise her civil rights to vote or run for office due to Congressional inaction on finding a pathway to citizenship for DACA youth like Carrión, who arrived in the United States when she was only 6 years old. Recent polls show that providing status to DACA youth is supported by 70% of Americans.

Current Yakima City Councilmember Dulce Gutiérrez supports Carrión saying, “I think Ms. Carrión would make a stellar candidate for Yakima City Council’s District 1 if she were eligible. She has demonstrated over the years a passion and desire to serve our community. She has a great vision for improving Yakima and I support Ms. Carrión’s protest of state/city laws that exclude the immigrant community from our democracy. All residents are contributing members of society and our democracy should represent the public as such. Ms. Carrión is a reflection of Yakima’s interwoven community.”

“Rocío Carrión is the kind of public servant we need, but because of our nation’s broken immigration system, both Rocío and her community are denied the benefits of her leadership in elected office,” Sayu Bhojwani, President and Founder of New American Leaders, said. “In Washington and across the country, we have seen other DACA recipients and immigrants like Rocío participating and prospering within their communities but stopped from representing their community in public office, simply because of their immigration status. This is un-American and goes against the very nature of our democracy. If we want to have a government that is truly of, by and for the people, we need Congress to pass the Dream and Promise Act now and pave the way for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Despite this setback, Carrión remains positive about her ability to give back and serve in office in the future. “I want to continue encouraging more civic engagement among the youth and constituents of my district so that their voices are heard,” she said. “As a city councilwomxn I would work with my city council team to put our youth at the top of the city’s priority list.”