WASHINGTON – The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN), the largest immigrant-led organization in Washington, announced its policy platform for the 2024 legislative session to build the rights, dignity, and power of immigrants and refugees in the state. This year, after assessing the organization’s campaign selection process, WAISN refined its approach to advocacy priorities in order to be more intentional about addressing the many areas that are important to immigrants across the state and be better equipped to engage across different campaigns. In the coming year, WAISN will be supporting two Primary, five Secondary, and thirteen Tertiary campaigns across Washington, all of which have been identified as a priority by directly impacted community members, and will advance efforts to keep immigrant communities safe, meet their basic needs, protect their rights, and increase their access and agency.
“In the U.S., policies are often designed to fill resource gaps and protect vulnerable and racialized peoples’ rights, autonomy, and safety informed by directly impacted communities but not community-centered. This is a problem as it makes directly impacted people secondary actors in devising our own liberation,” said Catalina Velasquez, Executive Director at WAISN. “Our 2024 policy platform centers and prioritizes the needs of directly impacted community members to make sure immigrant and refugee communities in Washington are not just surviving, but also thriving. This means taking steps to account for immigrant realities, needs, and urgencies in holistic and intersectional ways that position immigrants beyond our lack of citizenship status, so we can also redirect resources toward basic needs for healthcare, housing, education, and employment, among others.”
Building on momentum from advocacy efforts in the last legislative session, WAISN’s Primary campaign platforms in 2024 will include Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers and Health Care Equity for Immigrants. WAISN will continue pressing for the Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers bill, which will provide unemployment insurance and benefits to undocumented workers in the State of Washington, as well as advocating for another budget proviso to expand healthcare access to immigrants across Washington state. WAISN will take a leading role and dedicate significant staff time and resources to advancing these priorities.
In addition to WAISN’s two Primary platforms, the organization will uplift and support campaigns through its Secondary and Tertiary platforms led by members and partners of the WAISN Network that align with organizational mission and values and that address issues that impact immigrant and refugee communities.
WAISN’s Secondary campaign platforms will include:
- Keeping Communities Together: Addressing Department of Corrections (DOC) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) collaboration.
- Resources for Newly Arrived Migrants: Asking the state and other local bodies of governance to provide funding to support newly arrived migrants, especially immigration legal services and emergency housing. The situation of newly arriving migrants is rapidly evolving. WAISN has been orchestrating, centralizing, and leading in this space. This Secondary priority may likely become a Primary campaign priority since hundreds of immigrants have newly arrived and are in need of support.
- Traffic Safety for All: Ending traffic stops for non-moving violations and increasing safety and equity while refocusing needed resources on high-risk behavior.
- Reproductive Justice and Gender-Affirming Care: Asking the state to continue being a sanctuary for immigrants seeking abortions, as well as transgender and queer immigrants needing access to life-saving gender-affirming healthcare, especially in the face of the onslaught of laws in other states that criminalize everyone’s right to safe abortions and to asserting their gender identity.
- Work Study for Undocumented Students & Update on Licensure: Asking the state to provide clarity on professional licenses for undocumented individuals and students.
WAISN’s Tertiary campaign platforms will include:
- Nothing About Us Without Us: When a legislative workgroup or task force is working on an issue that “directly and tangibly” affects an underrepresented population, the legislature would be required to appoint a representative from that population to the workgroup. The bill came from the developmental disabilities community, but the bill will help all people who come from culturally, linguistically, geographically and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds.
- People’s Privacy Act: Creating a charter of people’s personal data rights that would prohibit companies from collecting, using, or selling people’s information without their freely given opt-in consent; make it unlawful for companies and government agencies to use people’s personal information to discriminate against them; require companies to conduct data protection assessments; and empower people to enforce their privacy rights and make violations of the law a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
- Dual & Tribal Language Education: Set up a permanent funding system for and invest in Dual Language, Heritage Language, and Indigenous Language Revitalization programs to reach the goal of all K-12 WA students having access to a dual language program by the year 2040.
- AG Investigation and Reform Bill: Strengthens and clarifies the Washington Attorney General’s authority to investigate and bring suit where there are systemic failures at an agency or department, resulting in violations of the Washington constitution or state laws. This bill would help ensure a fundamental baseline of quality policing across Washington.
- Independent Investigations for Police Violence: Establishing a mechanism for independent prosecutions within the Office of the Attorney General of criminal conduct arising from police use of force.
- Ending the Long-Term Use of Solitary Confinement: Restricts the use of solitary confinement in state correctional facilities and long-term private detention facilities, into three categories: emergency purposes, medical isolation, or voluntary request. Specifies conditions for solitary confinement and requires transition plans, data collection, and reports by detention facilities and law enforcement.
- Rent Stabilization Package: Protecting tenants by prohibiting abusive and extreme rent increases that are used to deny tenants of their rights, including protections against no-cause evictions (1388); by capping yearly rent increases that a landlord can charge a tenant to a fair amount to account for costs and improvements (1389 and SB 5435); by requiring landlords to provide six months’ notice of significant rent increases, and by providing tenants with the right to quit their fixed-term lease due to the rent increase, and capping late fees (1124).
- Wealth Tax: Investing in Washington families and creating a more fair tax system by enacting a narrowly tailored property tax on extreme wealth derived from the ownership of stocks, bonds, and other financial intangible property.
- Keep Our Care Act: Ensure health entity mergers, acquisitions, and contracting affiliations improve rather than harm access to affordable quality care within a community.
- Permanent Fund for Housing Trust Fund: Increasing the supply of affordable housing by modifying the state and local real estate excise tax.
- Guaranteed Basic Income: Establishes the Evergreen Basic Income Pilot Program, providing 24 monthly payments of up to $7,500 to qualifying participants in an amount equal to 100% of the fair market rent for a two-bedroom dwelling unit in the county in which a participant resides.
- People Powered Elections WA: Establishing the democracy voucher program for contributions to state legislative candidates.
- Establishing Violent Extremism Commission: Creates the Domestic Violent Extremism Commission in the Office of the Attorney General to establish a comprehensive public health and community-based framework for responding to domestic violent extremism.
All policy platforms are informed by the needs shared by directly impacted immigrant communities in WA, as well as organizational members of the Network that are part of the Steering Committee. Prior to selection, all campaigns under consideration are brought up from immigrant communities on the ground and through our Deportation Defense Hotline and later reviewed and selected by WAISN directly-impacted leadership to ensure full alignment with the organization’s mission. Subsequently, these directly impacted communities’ vetted campaigns are presented to and approved by the WAISN Steering Committee.
To learn more about WAISN’s campaigns, visit www.waisn.org.
WAISN is the largest immigrant-led organization in Washington State, a grassroots coalition of over 400 immigrant and refugee rights organizations. Distributed across 27 counties, WAISN exists to provide support, capacity, and resources to immigrant communities, build power, and act as a united immigrant justice voice statewide.