For Immediate Release: Saturday February 26, 2011
Contact: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social and the May 1st Action Coalition, 206.324.6044.
Immigrants and their Allies Rally at Westlake and March to the Downtown Seattle ICE Offices to Protest ICE Raids and Proposed Anti-Immigrant Legislation on Friday, February 25, 2011.
SEATTLE – El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social and the May 1st Action Coalition held a March and rally in Downtown Seattle, beginning at around 4 p.m. that drew an estimated 80 participants. Many braved 30 degree weather to protest the recent escalation of attacks against the immigrant communities in Washington, on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and anti-immigrant legislation proposed in Olympia.
The program began with a brief Rally at Westlake where participants slowly gathered and came in closer to the stage area. Speakers included spokespersons for local organizations such as The New Sanctuary Movement, Witness for Peace, and faith based organizations. Colette Cosner, Regional Coordinator for Witness for Peace read a brief excerpt from Washington State Senator, Adam Kline’s (D-Seattle) statement on contentious bill SB 5407, which would restrict undocumented residents from obtaining a drivers’ license.
“I oppose SB 5407 very strongly. Personally, I prefer a policy that recognizes reality; the immigrants have come here to work, and their labor is welcome because even in this deep recession there are jobs that native-born Americans don’t seek. These people keep our economy going.”
Sen. Kline’s statement illustrated the theme of the demonstration as participants then marched west-bound on Pine Street and south on 2nd Ave on way to the 1000 Building which houses offices for the both the Washington State Department of Licensing as well as an Immigration Court and offices for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency. A brief rally continued at the March’s destination.
According to Sandy Restrepo, Co-Chair for the May 1st Action Coalition, “these policies at the state and national levels are an all out assault on our youth. They bear the brunt of not being able to attain drivers’ licenses if they are undocumented and of having their parents taken away and having their families separated because some members of the family are documented and others may not be.”
Antonio Flores, Spokesperson for El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, further noted, “our children are those who suffer most from these inhumane laws. They are at danger of losing their caretakers in their parents and have to cope with the psychological trauma of having agents come in and disappear family members at will.” He further stated, “I am indigenous. My family is indigenous. We are not strangers to these lands and we all have the human right to migrate to be able to provide for our families. My childrens’ suffering and all our childrens’ suffering is on you (ICE Officials)! Shame on you!”
As the demonstration wrapped up, speakers related these issues to others around the country, namely around resistance to budget cuts and to the labor issues transpiring in Wisconsin and other states in the Midwest. They ended the program with the chant, “we’ll be back, we’ll be back,” indicating that their concern is yet to be resolved.
As done the previous eleven years, organizers will continue to fight to secure the basic rights of all, regardless of place of origin.
For more information, contact the following: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social and the May 1st Action Coalition, 206.324.6044.