How the Working Families Tax Credit Fights Poverty

Eric Shew Uncategorized

A state’s tax code is a representation of its values. Unfortunately, our state’s tax code reveals an ugly truth: immigrant and refugee communities and low to middle-income communities like ours are not a priority.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy published a comprehensive report on tax fairness in all 50 states. They found that Washington is number one: our state has the most unfair tax code in the nation. This means Washington residents who earn the least pay the largest percentage of their income in taxes, up to 18%, while the wealthiest 1% of Washingtonians pay only 3% of their income. Low and moderate-income Washingtonians pay up to six times more as a share of income compared to the wealthiest residents.

This year we can take a step to balance out our upside-down tax code by passing the Working Families Tax Credit. The two Working Families Tax Credit bills (HB 1527/SB 1580) are both in committee. HB 1527 was introduced by OAV-endorsed State Representative Debra Entenman, and has more than 30 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. The companion bill in the Senate, SB1580, was introduced by OAV-endorsed State Senator Joe Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American elected to that Chamber, and has 18 co-sponsors as of February 10.

The credit would put an average of $350 back into the pocket of nearly 1 million Washington residents. It would recognize the important contributions of immigrants, caregivers and young workers without children.  And it would mark an important step in reforming our upside-down tax system, reducing how regressive our tax system is.

Image from Washington State Budget and Policy Center

Maggie Humphreys of Momsrising described the tax credit as, “one of the strongest tools we have for combating poverty.”

The legislation builds off of the federal earned income tax credit, a critical policy to help families with lower incomes pull themselves out of poverty. Eligible participants include working parents with children, childless individuals between the age of 19 and 64, caregivers of disabled or elderly relatives, students enrolled in higher education who do not receive state financial aid, and people who file their taxes using an ITIN number.  Just as important, it recognizes the important contributions that these workers and caregivers make to the economy.

Martin Negrete from All In For Washington said, “Funding a modernized WFTC is a critical first step to balancing our tax code and breaking down barriers of racial justice. Our state budget should reflect Washington’s progressive spirit and booming economy, but too many of us are only one paycheck away from poverty.”

Not only is this legislation right for combating poverty, but it closes critical gaps that disproportionately affect immigrant communities.

Louie Tan Vital, a master’s candidate at The UW Evans School, pointed out that many immigrant families live in multi-generational households. In communities where it is taboo to place elderly parents in care facilities, many immigrants are caregivers. This bill expands eligibility of the tax credit, providing relief to these hardworking individuals. Tan Vital, who comes from an immigrant family herself, closed her testimony with a simple statement, “This is culturally-competent legislation that we can all celebrate.”

OneAmerica urges our legislators to vote yes on the Working Families Tax Credit, key legislation that will help people of color, immigrants, and all low-income Washingtonians.

Audio source missing

What Happens Next? A Post Election Conversation with Rich Stolz and Steve Phillips

Robin Engle Uncategorized

It’s been an exciting election season where we saw candidates of color, immigrants and women win big! It may have also left you with questions… What does this mean going forward, and how can we recreate these results in future elections?

To learn more, listen to our 30 minute recorded phone briefing with our Executive Director Rich Stolz and Steve Phillips, the Founder of Democracy In Color, a political organization dedicated to race, politics and the multicultural progressive New American Majority. Steve is the bestselling author of the book, “Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority“.

2018 Midterm Elections: People Like Us Claim Our Power

Eric Shew Uncategorized

With OneAmerica Votes leading the way, people like us are creating a movement to claim our power at the ballot at the local, state, and federal level. We knocked on 9,800 doors. We made 8,700 calls. We registered 1,200 voters. We elected 22 out of 29 OAV-endorsed candidates.

Victories for OAV-endorsed people like us – pro-immigrant, progressive legislators like Debra Entenman, My-Linh Thai, Joe Nguyen, Bill Ramos, Claire Wilson and Dr. Kim Schrier who is leading in the 8th Congressional District – signal the power of the immigrant rights movement and the energy and commitment of our grassroots leaders and volunteers.

New American and infrequent voters turned out in immigrant communities across Washington State, because people like us from our communities reached out to our communities. Our grassroots leaders turned out at least 5,700 voters as of Tuesday afternoon. In the end, 23 out of 29 OAV-endorsed candidates won in the general election. Read our press release and watch the video of our press conference here. Read our press release and watch the video of our press conference here.’

Click here for the news story by Q13 Fox.

OneAmerica Votes’ work was led every step of the way by our immigrant and refugee grassroots leaders rooted in the immigrant rights movement. Community leaders led a rigorous endorsement process to interview, ask tough questions, decide on key strategic and values-aligned endorsements, and hold candidates accountable.

With meaningful gains by pro-immigrant legislators in Washington State, our state is ready with a progressive agenda driven by our leaders focused on improving education for dual-language learners and protecting our neighbors from Trump’s harmful federal policies.

With a Democratic House of Representatives in Washington, DC, we’re ready to stand strong against harmful policies coming from the administration that seek to divide or scapegoat our communities. We can confidently move forward with permanent protections for DACA youth and effective oversight over unaccountable deportation agencies charged by the President to tear our families apart.

OneAmerica Votes proved wrong the disempowering narratives that our communities don’t vote and aren’t engaged, and rejected the harmful rhetoric and actions of the administration. Our communities proved that when we claim our power, we #UniteTheVote, we show up, and we win real victories for our communities.

And for the record number of people of color candidates and for the progressive allies who ran but lost in their election bids, Thank You!  Your courage and leadership are clearing the path for future candidates of color.  Just by running for office and challenging stereotypes, building connections with voters, registering new voters and fighting for issues important to our communities, you already won!

A Deeper Dive

On Tuesday night, Congressional Democrats reclaimed the majority in the United States House of Representatives, but we saw significant gains in our state as well.

US House of Representatives
  • Kim Schrier is poised to join the new Democratic, pro-immigrant majority with nearly 53% of the vote in the 8th congressional district.
  • In southwestern Washington, Carolyn Long challenged Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, taking nearly 48% of the vote at this point in the vote count. Even if Long fails to close the gap, she is already succeeding in forcing Herrera Beutler to moderate her positions on issues important to immigrant and refugee communities.
State Legislature
  • OAV-endorsed candidates Debra Entenman, Debra Lekanoff, My-Linh ThaiBill Ramos, and Mona Das are poised to significantly increase the number of Representatives from communities of color in the House of Representatives.
  • With 49.35% of the vote in the 17th Legislative District of the votes counted thus far, Tanisha Harris has a shot at joining them.
  • Joe Nguyen (34th Legislative District) and My-Linh Thai are the first Vietnamese Americans to serve in the State Legislature.
  • With just under 50% of the vote in their races, Mona Das and Pinky Vargas are two powerful women of color within striking distance of defeating incumbent Republican Senators.
  • OneAmerica Votes friend and ally Claire Wilson captured the Republican-controlled Senate seat in the 30th Legislative District, and Emily Randall holds a narrow lead in her bid to capture another Senate seat in the 26th Legislative District.
  • With just under 50% of the vote in her race, Pinky Vargas is within striking distance of defeating the incumbent Republican Senator in the 42nd Legislative District.
  • And in the judiciary, Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez won his re-election campaign against an unqualified challenger, affirming that credentials, experience and voter contact matter in judicial contests.
Ballot Measures
  • Washington voters approved Initiative 940, which will require de-escalation training for law enforcement officers, change the standard for the prosecution of police involved in unjustified homicides, and require the provision of first aid for injured individuals in police custody
  • On the other hand, Initiative 1631 is currently down by more than 10 percentage points due to a massive barrage of misleading campaign ads bought by the out-of-state oil industry that broke records for spending in Washington elections. The “no” campaign even mailed a false list of Latino-owned businesses it claimed opposed the initiative.  If enacted, I-1631 would put a fee on carbon to discourage the burning of pollution-causing fossil fuels contributing to climate change and invest revenue from the fee into initiatives to boost the clean energy economy, offset the financial impact of the fee on lower-income households, and support workers transitioning out of the fossil fuel industry.  As the vote count continues, it’s clear that oil companies are desperately afraid of I-1631 and the unprecedented coalition and campaign that came together behind it.
  • At the local level, our friends from Everett Districts Now, in a bid to expand democracy, forced the City of Everett to put a measure on the ballot to shift the City’s election system from at large elections to single-member district elections, and the campaign’s preferred option (5 districts, 2 at large seats) garnered the most votes.
  • In the City of Seattle, voters passed the Families and Education Levy, which will invest property tax revenue into initiatives to close the opportunity gap for lower-income students of color, including initiatives long-advocated by OneAmerica.

Collectively, OneAmerica Votes worked in conjunction with national networks of organizations to lift up the voices of under-represented communities.  Through FIRM Action, OAV was part of a nationally-coordinated strategy that reached a total of 2.2 million voters in 17 states that sought to flip 15 House Seats, including Washington’s 8th Congressional District, six governors races and six senate races.  Through People’s Action, OAV and our national partners knocked on more than 1 million doors and had more than 334,000 conversations with voters in targeted communities across the United States, including in the 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts.

Thank You! to the OneAmerica Votes staff who organized 225 canvass shifts, 198 phone-banking shifts, organized 5 ballot parties, texted 3,400 voters, mailed 12,200 mail-pieces, attempted nearly 20,000 voter contacts, and registered 1,200 new voters.  Special thanks go to the grassroots leaders and volunteers who made this work possible.

In Yakima alone, we knocked on more than 4,000 doors, made 1,500 calls, texted 1,131 voters and organized 112 phone bank and canvass shifts in support of Initiative 1631.

In Vancouver, we knocked on 2,200 doors, made 1,000 calls, and organized 99 phone bank and canvass shifts in support of Carolyn Long in the 3rd Congressional District and Tanisha Harris in the 17th Legislative District.

And thank you to the donors and partners who contributed to our efforts to elect people like us to office and to advance critical policy initiatives at the state and local level.

Below data as of 6:30pm 11/9/18

Position Candidate Standing %
CD 1, US Representative Suzan DelBene Winning 59.22%
CD 3, US Representative Carolyn Long Losing 47.14%
CD 5, US Representative Lisa Brown Losing 44.82%
CD 7, US Representative Pramila Jayapal Winning 83.43%
CD 8, US Representative Kim Schrier Winning 52.68%
CD 9, US Representative Adam Smith Winning 68.34%
LD 5, Representative, Position 1 Bill Ramos Winning 51.40%
LD 5, Representative, Position 2 Lisa Callan Winning 52.12%
LD 17, Representative, Position 1 Tanisha Harris Losing 49.07%
LD 21, Representative, Position 2 Lilian Ortiz-Self Winning 65.21%
LD 26, Senator Emily Randall Losing 49.83%
LD 30, Representative, Position 1 Mike Pellicciotti Winning 61.03%
LD 30, Representative, Position 2 Kristine Reeves Winning 64.10%
LD 30, Senator Claire Wilson Winning 53.97%
LD 31, Senator Immaculate Ferreira Losing 40.19%
LD 31, Representative, Position 1 Victoria Mena Losing 41.10%
LD 32, Representative, Position 1 Cindy Ryu Winning 75.83%
LD 33, Representative, Position 2 Mia Gregerson Winning 67.73%
LD 34, Senator Joe Nguyen Winning 58.14%
LD 37, Senator Rebecca Saldana Winning 88.98%
LD 40, Representative, Position 1 Debra Lekanoff Winning 69.31%
LD 41, Representative, Position 2 My-Linh Thai Winning 65.34%
LD 42, Senator Pinky Vargas Losing 49.95%
LD 45, Senator Manka Dhingra Winning 63.21%
LD 47, Senator Mona Das Winning 50.51%
LD 47, Representative, Position 1 Debra Entenman Winning 53.17%
LD 49, Representative, Position 2 Monica Stonier Winning 100.00%
State Supreme Court, Position 8 Steve Gonzalez Winning 67.88%
State Supreme Court, Position 9 Sheryl McCloud Winning 100.00%
Initiative Recommendation
Initiative 940 Recommend YES Passing 59.54%
Initiative 1631 Recommend YES Not Passing 43.51%
Initiative 1634 Recommend NO Passing 44.56%
Initiative 1639 Recommend YES Passing 59.83%
Everett Proposition 1 Recommend: Vote to Approve Districts Approved 53.75%
Everett Proposition 2 Recommend: Vote for 5 Districts, 2 Citywide Option A Selected 53.99%
Seattle Families & Education Levy Recommend YES Passing 68.69%

Recent Developments in Federal Immigration Policy Underscore the Importance of the 2018 Elections for Immigrants and Refugees in Washington State

Robin Engle Uncategorized

In the last 24 hours, there were two major developments in immigration policy.  Yesterday a federal district court in California blocked implementation of the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status for legal immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan as the lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security challenging the termination, Ramos v. Nielsen, is being litigated.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a humanitarian designation assigned to nations that have experienced significant disruption, for example natural disasters or civil strife, that allows their citizens living in the United States to remain here.  And last night, President Trump officially announced that the federal government’s cap on refugee admissions for fiscal year 2019 will be 30,000, a decline of 33 percent from the cap set for fiscal year 2018 and a decline of nearly 65% from the cap set in fiscal year 2016.  Refugees are individuals identified and vetted by the United States who are fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries and resettled through an orderly process in the United States.

Statement by Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica Votes:

“We are heartened by the decision of a federal district court to temporarily block the deportation of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status.  This is a significant, though temporary, legal victory.  The case is still to be decided in the Courts, but for the moment hundreds of thousands of individuals who have built deep roots in our nation for years will not be ripped away from their families and returned to nations still recovering from disasters, averting a family separation crisis.

Hours later, the Trump Administration announced yet another significant decline in the number of refugees that can be admitted to the United States.  The cap of 30,000 is the lowest number in the history of the nation’s refugee resettlement program.  At a time when the world is facing a refugee crisis – more people are in motion than at any time in human history, driven by armed conflict, climate change and economic dislocation – we condemn the President’s decision to effectively turn our nation’s back on its own history as a refuge for the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Taken together, the President’s actions on both TPS and refugee resettlement are extreme, anti-immigrant and un-American.  These decisions are consistent with the President’s racist remarks aimed at non-European nations and immigrants and refugees of color.  The actions underscore in so many ways that elections matter and have real consequences on our lives and families.  This fall, OneAmerica Votes is organizing and mobilizing voters and potential voters in communities across Washington State to elect candidates who are willing to stand up to immigrant scapegoating and race baiting and to fight for an inclusive vision for our communities and our democracy.  The only path to repairing the damage caused by this President is through the ballot box.”

Tanisha Harris for State Representative in the 17th Legislative District, Position 1

Robin Engle Uncategorized

OneAmerica Votes proudly endorses Tanisha Harris to Represent the 17th Legislative District in Clark County, Washington.  Harris is one of an impressive slate of women of color running for the state legislature in 2018.

Harris was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington. After graduating from Evergreen High School, Tanisha attended Clark College and Washington State University-Vancouver, earning an Associate’s Degree and a Bachelor’s of Social Science with concentrations in Human Development, Psychology and Sociology. Tanisha spent 10 years working for the Evergreen School District in the field of multicultural and diversity education both at Heritage High School and at the District Office. Tanisha now works as a CASA Program Specialist for the YWCA Clark County, where she advocates for children in the Dependency/Foster Care system and supervises CASA volunteers.  Today, Tanisha serves as a member of LICWAC (Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee) and is Co-Chair of Evergreen Citizens for Schools for the 2018 Evergreen Public Schools Facilities Bond.

Tanisha’s Father’s family was one of first African American Families here in Vancouver in the early 1940s. Tanisha is proud to be “Aunt Nesha” to Natalie, Amara, Maya, Asa and Isla.

Harris is a strong advocate for children and families. If elected, we know she will make education a priority and work to close the opportunity gap facing students of color and English language learners in our school system.  She also understands the challenges faced by families striving to create a better balance between making ends meet and spending quality time with their children, the need for affordable child care, and creating jobs in our communities.

On civil and human rights, Harris is an outspoken leader for racial justice and equity.  In her own words: “We cannot have economic justice without racial justice in our nation. Even now, as anti-union forces try to break the strength of working people across Washington State and our country, the roots of so-called right-to-work legislation are steeped in a history of racism as a thinly-veiled attempts to drive a wedge between workers of color and their white brothers and sisters. I will continue to speak up, stand up and advocate for our communities of color, LGBTQ+ community and immigrant community. Simply put: Hate is not allowed in our 17th Legislative District.”

Don Steinke, OneAmerica Votes volunteer, had this to say about Harris: “Being a women, a person of color, and a thoughtful Democrat, Tanisha Harris offers a frame of mind that seeks to solve problems and improve economic outcomes for all, making sure no one is left out.  Tanisha also understands the seriousness of climate change, the urgency of doing our part to transition to clean energy, and the economic benefit to all for doing so.”

In her own words, Harris states: “Climate Change is real and the science behind it is real. We must prevent and address the human and economic threats and invest in policies to grow the production of clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades that create family wage jobs.”

Let’s send Tanisha Harris to Olympia to represent our communities this November!

Kristine Reeves for Representative in the 30th Legislative District

Robin Engle Uncategorized

Earlier this summer, OneAmerica Votes proudly endorsed Kristine Reeves for re-election as State Representative for Washington’s 30th Legislative District, which covers much of Federal Way.

When not in the legislature, Kristine currently serves as the Director of Economic Development for the Military and Defense sector for the state of Washington, focusing on the public and private elements of economic development as it relates to infrastructure, suppliers and contractors and community advocacy and public support organizations for the US Military in our state.  As such she has been an active leader on veterans issues, and has a deep understanding of Washington’s military-related industries.

She grew up in Moses Lake, Washington, and overcome significant adversity in her early years to eventually graduate from Washington State University, and eventually earned a masters from Gonzaga University.  Kristine is the mother of two young children.

While in the legislature, Kristine has been an important voice advocating for improved educational opportunities for all of Washington’s children, comprehensive transportation systems, and a family-friendly economy.  She has perhaps been most vocal in efforts to make child care more affordable, lifting up the voices of workers in her district struggling to cover the cost of care, and the difficult choices they’ve been forced to make.

The OneAmerica Votes Justice Fund is currently organizing canvasses and phone banks in support of Kristine’s re-election to the Washington House of Representatives.  For more information, contact us here.

Statement by Rich Stolz, CEO of OneAmerica Votes on its endorsement of Kristine Reeves: 

“In her first two years in the legislature, Kristine emerged as an important leader, effectively representing her district and strategically engaging her colleagues on a range of issues important to immigrant and refugee communities across Washington State.  Kristine brings a truly compelling and powerful personal story, and an important perspective as a woman of color in the State House.  Her inspiration has encouraged others, regardless of their background or whatever obstacles they have overcome in their lives, to consider their own runs for office.”


(photo credit: Front and Centered)

Vote for Climate Justice This November

Eric Shew Uncategorized

by Ake Kankirawatana

Washingtonians everywhere should care about the serious threat that pollution poses to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Initiative 1631 is a broad and inclusive proposal to invest in clean air and clean energy in Washington State while reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

Making sure our communities have a safe, clean environment is crucial to the advancement and integration of immigrant and refugee communities in America. Unfortunately, immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color tend to be more adversely affected by air pollution, water contamination and climate change. Often, the communities that shoulder the worst of this burden have contributed the least to its cause.

Initiative 1631, or the Protect Washington Act, was drafted by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a diverse coalition of communities of color organizations, labor and environmental groups, and other stakeholders whose communities experience the negative impacts of pollution the most. OneAmerica and OneAmerica Votes serve on the Boards of the Alliance and the Yes on 1631 Campaign and played a significant role in drafting the proposal, which was the product of extensive input from communities across Washington State.

The initiative is both equitable and responsible, and it will ensure that Washington’s environment stays healthy and clean for generations to come. It will create jobs for and improve the long-term health outcomes Washington’s communities, especially those that are disproportionately impacted by climate change and the pollution that causes it.

If passed, I-1631 will discourage large polluters from emitting greenhouse gases by placing a fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit, starting in 2020 and increasing by $2 each year until the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2035 are met and the 2050 goals are on track to be met. The biggest polluters in the state will pay the fee, and the revenue generated will be invested in clean air, clean energy, water quality, and forest health projects and programs in local communities in order to accelerate reductions in carbon pollution.

I-1631 is expected to raise roughly $1 billion a year in revenue, which will be allocated as follows:

  • 70% will be invested in clean energy infrastructure, like new wind and solar projects, with 15% of that going directly to low-income communities to help them make the transition to clean energy without the burden of increased utility costs
  • 25% will be used to promote clean water and healthy forests, including increased measures for pollution cleanup and prevention
  • 5% will be invested in local communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and increased forest fires

Solutions to climate change, pollution, and other environmental issues have traditionally excluded the voices of communities of color, and have not taken into account the needs of diverse communities. By building power in immigrant and refugee communities and building a space for their voices to be heard in policy discussions, OneAmerica is working to provide environmental justice for all.

Under the measure, hundreds of millions of dollars would be invested in communities like south King County, Vancouver, Yakima, and other areas most impacted by carbon pollution. These communities will benefit from cleaner energy and transportation infrastructure, and through community workforce agreement requirements, the ballot measure would ensure that local residents will have the opportunity to find work in new, green jobs generated by these projects.

Residents of these areas will also have direct input in ensuring that the revenue generated from the fee is being invested effectively and wisely. A public oversight board comprised of experts in clean energy and pollution reduction and representatives from tribal governments, labor unions, and residents of heavily polluted areas will be responsible for the development, approval, and oversight of all projects funded by the initiative. This upholds the principles of accountability and equity by limiting the influence of the fossil fuel industry.  Real people and experts, not politicians and lobbyists that can be bought by corporations, will oversee implementation of this measure.

Join OneAmerica Votes and the Yes on 1631 Campaign to mobilize the vote for Initiative 1631 come November. I-1631 is the most comprehensive, just, and inclusive measure of its kind in the nation, and it is backed by an unprecedented coalition of people of color, environmentalists, unions and workers, businesses, health professionals.  1631 will preserve Washington’s air and water, create good jobs, and kickstart the transition to a greener and healthier future.

Taking Stock of Democratic Members of Congress Representing Washington State

Robin Engle Uncategorized

In the 2018 mid-term elections, all US Representatives will be up for election, including Washington State’s ten Members of Congress.  This post summarizes the positions taken by the Democratic Representatives serving Washington State.

With respect to the current crisis of family separation at the southern border, all of the Democratic representatives listed below signed Rep. Jayapal’s letter to limit DHS’ ability to use appropriated fund to separate families.

Rick Larsen

Rep. Larsen is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, which is a group of moderate Democrats that released principles for comprehensive immigration reform through their Immigration Task Force. On his website, Rep. Larsen refers to the immigration system as broken, in need of reform, and endorses the New Democrat Coalition’s plan. The principles call for the reform of employment-based and family-based immigration to reduce bureaucratic backlogs, ensure resources for border enforcement, implement a mandatory employment verification system to prevent illegal employment while not being burdensome to business owners, and to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

In response to House Resolution 990, which expressed support for Immigration and Customs Immigration (ICE), Rep. Larsen said, “I do not support abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There are important reforms the Department should undertake, such as ending the policy of family separation and detention, but these changes must begin by addressing the broader concerns surrounding the administration’s immigration enforcement policies.”  Rep. Larsen’s immigration views are moderate, he does support Dreamers and establishing pathways to citizenship for immigrants but does not support “any proposal that hands out citizenship.”

During the Trump administration, Rep. Larsen voted in opposition to key immigration bills opposed by OneAmerica, including HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Suzan DelBene

On her campaign website, Rep. Suzan DelBene says that the immigration system is broken and dysfunctional to all involved, and calls for comprehensive immigration reform. According to her Congressional website, “Comprehensive immigration reform should eliminate backlogs, reunite families and meet the demands of our nation’s economy.” Rep. DelBene supports Dreamers and finding a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already here and contribute to our communities. In 2013, she was one of the original cosponsors on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which encompassed a total reform of our immigration system, that OneAmerica ultimately supported. Recently, alongside OneAmerica she spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to no longer accept claims of domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum and Congress’ lack of action in providing “meaningful” immigration reform.

During the Trump administration, Rep. DelBene voted in opposition to key immigration bills opposed by OneAmerica, including HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Adam Smith

According to his campaign website, Rep. Adam Smith views immigration as one of our nation’s biggest strengths, but the system needs to be reformed. He has been actively supportive of immigrant communities; since President Trump’s inauguration he has spoken out against the administration anti-immigrant agenda. In 2017, Rep. Smith sponsored the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017, which prohibits for-profit private detention centers and mandatory detention, and the Freedom of Religion Act of 2017, which would prohibit the United States from denying entry based on religion. Rep. Smith also sponsored bills that prohibited cutting federal funding from sanctuary cities and guaranteed legal counsel for immigrants in civil immigration proceedings.

He was an original cosponsor of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, and introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, responding to concerns over lack of transparency and accountability at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. Rep. Smith is a vocal supporter of Dreamers and supported the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Since the Trump administration, Rep. Smith voted in opposition to key immigration bills opposed by OneAmerica, including HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Dennis Heck

Rep. Denny Heck believes our immigration system needs to be fixed in a comprehensive way, not piece by piece. According to his website, he opposes the Muslim Ban and separation of families under the President’s “zero-tolerance” policy. On June 8, he joined other Washington state legislators to speak out against family separation at SeaTac Federal Detention Center, and he co-signed the Keep Families Together Act.  Rep. Heck also co-signed a letter to the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee to urge the committee to prevent government resources from being spent to separate families at the southern border.

Since the Trump administration, Rep. Heck voted in opposition to key immigration bills opposed by OneAmerica, including HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Derek Kilmer

In a floor speech arguing for bipartisan immigration reform, he said, “Improving our legal immigration system will ensure American workers receive the benefits of competing on an equal ground. It will reduce exploitation and give undocumented workers and their families a path toward achieving opportunity.” He also signed on to a letter urging the Trump administration to cease family separation along with Washington’s five other Democratic representatives. He also co-sponsored the USA Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients following the President’s decision to end DACA.

During the Trump administration, Rep. Kilmer voted against a number of bills opposed by OneAmerica, including HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Pramila Jayapal

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the founder of OneAmerica, publicly denounced the construction of a border wall and the indiscriminate deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States. She has stated on her campaign website that she is “working to pass just and humane immigration reform that provides legalization and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, reunites families, protects immigrant workers on the job, and fully embraces the contributions that immigrants make to our society.” She has been a vocal opponent to the Trump administrations current immigration policies, including sponsoring legislation to terminate ICE, visiting federal detention centers to meet with detainees, and even attending a D.C. protest of Trump’s zero tolerance policy where she was arrested with other demonstrators who refused to leave.  Jayapal is an original co-sponsor of the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act and other legislative proposals to grant legal counsel to immigrants in civil legal proceedings, and protect Muslims from bias in our immigration system.

During the Trump administration, Rep. Jayapal has been one of the most vocal supporters of immigrant rights in Congress and voted against measures opposed by OneAmerica, including voting against HR 2213 (Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017), HR 3004 (Kate’s Law), HR 3003 (No Sanctuary for Criminals Act), HR 3697 (Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act), HR 6136 (Border Security, and Immigration Reform Act of 2018), and HR 4760 (Securing America’s Future Act of 2018).

Currently, OneAmerica Votes has endorsed Rep. Jayapal, Rep. Smith and Rep. DelBene for re-election to Congress, and will consider further endorsements as we near the November election.

OneAmerica Votes Endorses My-Linh Thai for State Rep., 41st Legislative District

Robin Engle Uncategorized

OneAmerica Votes endorses My-Linh Thai for State Representative in the 41st Legislative District, Position 2.  Ms. Thai currently serves on the Bellevue School Board, where she made racial and social equity her focus.  She was inspired to the run for Representative in part to allow her to do more to advocate for her constituents, including immigrant and refugee communities.  A refugee herself, she came to the United States from Vietnam, and learned first-hand the challenges of building a home with her family in the United States, and how immigrant students especially those who do not speak English are often treated in our school systems.  Thai was recently profiled in the NW Asian Weekly, and the Seattle Times and Stranger both announced their endorsement for Thai.

My-Linh Thai is Bellevue School Board President, a health care professional, and an award-winning PTSA parent who has been committed to improving education, providing opportunities, and ensuring quality of life for Eastside families.

On the Bellevue School Board, as a Director, and now as Board President, My-Linh has put to work her ability to listen, build consensus, and achieve common goals to ensure that the district allows all children to develop to their full potential. Her focus has been on enhancing parent and community engagement, establishing high student expectations through a diverse and challenging curricula, closing the Opportunity Gap, and improving district accommodation of students with special needs.

My-Linh also serves as Vice President of the Washington State School Board Directors Association (WSSDA). As a member of the WSSDA Legislative and Equity Committees, she advocates for investments in education statewide and for important reforms so that each and every student has equitable access to educational opportunity. Prior to serving on the School Board, My-Linh and her husband, Don, built a successful pediatric neurology practice from the ground up in Casper, Wyoming. She later worked as a practicing pharmacist in Billings, Montana. In addition, she has volunteered as a medical interpreter and co-taught in Vietnam’s first nursing graduate program.


Washington’s 2018 US Senate Race – A Democratic Incumbent vs. the Party of Trump?

Robin Engle Uncategorized

There are an extraordinarily large number of candidates vying to contest the re-election of Senator Maria Cantwell this November.  In this blog post, we review Senator Cantwell’s record on immigration, and review the positions taken by the most likely Republican Candidate, Susan Hutchison.

Senator Maria Cantwell  

Senator Maria Cantwell has been largely aligned with the positions taken by OneAmerica on immigration reform.  She has consistently supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, and has been a leading voice on several legislative efforts to strengthen due process protections for immigrants dealing with immigration enforcement.  Her campaign website sums up her views on immigration by saying “I will fight for humane, rational and constructive Immigration policies. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants and I haven’t forgotten that.”

With regard to matters of Congressional oversight of federal agencies, Cantwell has been a consistent voice opposing racial and religious profiling and raising concerns over lack of accountability at Customs and Border Protection, whose Commissioner is approved by the Senate Finance Committee, on which Cantwell serves.

Recently she was among 49 other Senators who signed onto the Keep Families Together Act in response to family separation. Senator Cantwell said that family separation was  “contrary to American values and causing unnecessary trauma.” She also signed a letter asking for decreased funding for President Trump’s border wall and “deportation force.”

Earlier this year, when immigrant organizations called on Congress to reject a federal budget deal that did not include a fix to the DACA program, which President Trump shut down, Cantwell voted against the spending bill, and as a consequence the federal government temporarily shut down.  The shutdown lasted just a weekend, when Cantwell (to the disappointment of immigrant groups) accepted a deal negotiated by Senate Democratic leadership that did not include a DACA fix.

The deal did lead to four votes on immigration bills in the Senate.  Cantwell voted for S Amdt 1955 Uniting and Securing America Act (Coons-McCain Amendment, supported by OneAmerica) and S Amdt 1958 Immigration Security and Opportunity Act (Schumer Amendment, not supported by OneAmerica). She voted against two bills that OneAmerica opposed: S Amdt 2948 Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act (Toomey Amendment), and S Amdt 1959 Secure and Succeed Act (Grassley Amendment).

Susan Hutchison  

Susan Hutchison, the former chair of Washington State’s Republican Party and a local television news anchor, is running against incumbent Senator Cantwell in Washington State’s 2018 senatorial race.

Hutchison sums up her immigration views on her campaign website saying, “I WILL support a humane immigration system that promotes legal entry and blocks illegal entry.  I WILL support a border wall in every effective form: physical, electronic and law enforcement. As our country generously welcomes one million new legal immigrants every year, my hope is that all will fulfill their American Dream.”

More concerning was Hutchison full-throated support for Candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.  She appeared to rationalize Trump’s comments in a tape recorded conversation with a television anchor that appeared to describe sexual assault.  She also opposed efforts by human and faith-based organizations to encourage the United States to accept Syrian refugees.  Based on her recent actions, in an election that in many ways will be a referendum on the President, it appears that Hutchison will be far more focused on defending Trump’s policies, authority and actions.

What to make of the rest of the named candidates in this race?

Most concerning are the Republican candidacies of known white supremacists and anti-immigrant activists in Washington’s elections this year.

  • From the Seattle Times: Another of Cantwell’s announced Republican challengers is Joey Gibson, leader of the Patriot Prayer group whose demonstrations have triggered counter protests and violence, including at the University of Washington in February.
  • In another race in the 7th Congressional District, where Representative Pramila Jayapal (endorsed by OAV) is running for re-election, her challenger is likely to be anti-immigrant advocate Craig Keller, better known for bankrolling campaigns to overturn local policies that discourage collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. Keller appears to be a one-issue candidate campaigning for restrictive immigration policies.
  • In a state legislative race in Snohomish County, Randy Hayden is running for State Representative in the 39th Legislative District. Hayden’s history of comments targeting LGBTQ, immigrant, Muslim communities prompted the Everett Herald to withdraw its endorsement of the candidate.

Many have focused on whether there may be a “blue wave” in American politics in 2018 that can limit the President’s authority for the remainder of this term.  But with Trump the de facto leader of the Republican Party, there’s an equally important question – has the Republican Party gone past the point of no return?  Does it belong to Gibson, Keller and Hayden?  Will leaders like Hutchison push back against these campaigns, or will she enable them, as she did with the President in 2016?