The authors, two DACA recipients, explain why theyre supporting Jon Grant for Seattle City Council Position 8.
The authors, two DACA recipients, explain why they're supporting Jon Grant for Seattle City Council Position 8. courtesy of grant campaign

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Immigrants like us are living through the most terrifying and tumultuous time we can remember since we first arrived in the United States decades ago. We’re currently protected by a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) created by President Obama, but Trump’s immigration agents have become notorious for undermining these protections and deporting young people anyway. In the northwest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have increased by 33 percent compared to the same time last year and the number of those arrested with no criminal history went up a shocking 360 percent.

The punitive and draconian deportation surges authorized by the current White House have left us constantly looking over our shoulder, perpetually in fear of a knock on the door or a court order in the mail that could strip us from our families and expel us from the only country we’ve known as home.

For us, this is personal. Symbolic gestures and lip service to “hard working immigrants” do nothing to keep us safe. Seattle is already leading the nation on a number of policy fronts to protect immigrants in our community. However, in the Trump era, many of Seattle’s “sanctuary city” policies represent the floor, not the ceiling, of what we should be doing. That is why we’re supporting the bold immigrant rights agenda championed by Jon Grant.

Jon Grant's immigration platform expands our idea of a sanctuary city. This collection of policies, based on ideas and input from the immigrant community, represent a reimagining of how city government can support and protect immigrant neighbors.

Jon wants to strengthen existing policies, like making the “Welcoming Cities” resolution a legally binding ordinance that prevents cooperation with ICE (unless compelled by a court-mandated warrant) and adequately fund the immigrant legal defense fund, which at current levels is only sufficient to represent 200 of more than 7,000 pending cases.

But Jon’s platform stands out by advocating for the bold policies we need to protect and defend immigrants in Seattle. Jon is is calling on Seattle to decriminalize petty, non-violent crimes and find alternative forms of accountability. While immigrants, both documented and undocumented, commit fewer crimes than native born citizens, excessive arrests makes us vulnerable to expulsion from the only country we call home.

Jon advocates for better protections for LGBTQ immigrants, particularly supporting transgender immigrants who face even more danger within our broken immigration enforcement system. He’d like the see our city explore banning the use of E-Verify, a punitive program that claims to verify immigration status, but which is riddled with errors and results in undocumented immigrants being vulnerable to abuse from employers that take advantage of their status.

Finally, we know that Jon stands with us because he wants to help empower immigrant communities with the right to vote in our local elections. We need more than protection for true progress; we need a seat at the table in our own home. We know there’s no reason that a transplant from Oregon should have more of a say in our city than an immigrant who’s lived in Seattle for decades.

In a time of crisis, immigrants like us need electeds who are willing to propose and fight for policies deemed unfeasible by the current political status quo. We need electeds who won't just use us to gain progressive points but instead reach out to develop policy ideas and bring people in. And we need policies that raise the standard for sanctuary cities in a time of crisis.

Jon Grant’s immigration policies, created in consultation with immigrants like us, are what we need now more than ever. Grant's agenda represents a vision for a Seattle where immigrants feel safe calling for emergency services, where reporting abusive employers isn’t a gamble, where immigrant mothers don't fear a mistake by their teenager will condemn the whole family to deportation, and where families can plan for the future without anxiety and fear.

That vision for Seattle is possible, but only if we fight for it by electing Jon Grant. We are ready to work with him to defend and empower our communities.

Kamau Chege is the co-founder of AllOfUs.org, a political movement focused on narrative strategy and supporting a new generation of progressive leaders to elected office. He's also the co-founder of Washington Dream Coalition, an organization led by undocumented immigrant youth in Washington State.

Michael Padilla has worked at the grassroots level for the last six years in Seattle and Western Washington helping create strong communities through campus organizing, community organizing, and advocating for progressive policies.