Bellevue, WA – Thursday, November 7th, 33 women were arrested at the Washington State Republican Headquarters demanding immediate action on a comprehensive immigration law that treats women and children fairly. 12 more were arrested in Spokane in front of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers office a couple of days later.
When asked why she was willing to risk arrest, Elena Perez of UFCW Local 21 replied, “I am a descendant of immigrants, like many others in this country. Immigration laws are broken, and they should not be enforced on the backs of those who come here to work hard and contribute to this country. Families must stay united and the deportations must stop now.”
The event was one of 10 coordinated actions taking place across the country in key Republican House member districts. Before the arrests happened, a group of over 150 women and families gathered in downtown Bellevue to demand that Republicans—in particular McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler, Reichert and Hastings—take action and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.
The participants marched from Downtown Park in Bellevue to the Washington State Republican Headquarters, where they joined in solidarity with the women risking arrest. The large group held a rally outside the building, featuring a powerful line-up of women sharing their stories and personal connections to this issue. Three quarters of all immigrants to the U.S. are women and children, and today’s event highlighted how they are the ones that bear the burden of our broken immigration system.
While participants rallied and chanted outside the Republican Headquarters, a smaller group of women refused to leave until our four Washington Republican leaders signed onto HR 15. The group of arrested women all took courageous action to urge House Republicans to pass a fair immigration reform bill.
High-profile women such as the Executive Directors of 21 Progress, Casa Latina and the NW Network, the Political Director of SEIU Healthcare 1199 Northwest, the Presidents of Washington Education Association and AFT Washington, and Mayor McGinn’s wife were among the women arrested.
“Too many immigrant workers are left in the shadows, their work exploited as they live in fear,” said Lynne Dodson, the Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and one of the women arrested at this morning’s event. “Women immigrant workers in particular tend to do work that is hidden from public view, so their rights are violated without consequence or scrutiny. We cannot keep silent and allow this unjust system to stand.”
Today’s action built on momentum from a September 12 civil disobedience in DC in which 105 women—25 of whom were undocumented—were arrested while protesting the House of Representatives’ inaction on immigration reform. The powerful protest inspired many participants to escalate action at home by staging local civil disobedience actions and otherwise increasing pressure on their Representatives in-district.