What are specific ways you have helped people of color and/or the immigrant community?
As a state senator my focus is on bringing every Washingtonian to the table where policy is made – especially those, like people of color and immigrants, who have been excluded in the past. In the 2017-2018 legislative session I lived that focus by sponsoring the Washington Voting Rights Act which will help ensure that all Washingtonians have representation that reflects their needs. It creates a process for those who have been excluded in the past to their voices are heard.
Additionally, in the 2017-2018 legislative session I fought for immigrants and people of color by sponsoring legislation which created a $1 million legal defense fund for immigrants and also worked to pass legislation that extended the College Bound program, a university scholarship program, to our Dreamers. I also sponsored legislation that became law which opens up careers in firefighting and our police forces to legal permanent residents. We also passed the Fair Chance Act, which bans employers in most professions from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record before making a decision about the applicant.
What is the biggest legislative priority for communities of color and the immigrant community in the next few years? Do you think there are legislative concerns that are unique to these communities?
One of our largest legislative priorities for communities of color, immigrants, and every Washingtonian is protecting the environment. I’m looking forward to the passage of I-1631 and our work in the legislature to ensure that it is carried out as intended. Climate change and environmental degradation affect low-income people of color and immigrants at a higher proportion than others – and this initiative directly addresses their needs.
I will also be working to repeal I-200 a law which prohibits the government from considering race or gender in the development of programs. We know that we live in a society where race and gender affect the arcs of our lives. Repealing I-200 is a policy solution that allows the government to acknowledge this and design fair programs that deliver opportunity for all of us.
What are specific ways that the office you seek would affect communities of color and the immigrant community, if you are elected?
As a State Senator, I use my understanding of intersectionality to shape policy to positively affect communities of color and the immigrant community. To me as a daughter of an immigrant, a woman of color, a feminist, and a Chicana – the only way to achieve justice for myself and my community is through a commitment to intersectionality centered on race. I also am always working on my consciousness of the privileges society bestows on me as a lighter-skinned cisgenderedUS-born, college-educated Chicana.
I fundamentally believe that without a commitment to an intersectional analysis, we will continue to make laws with “unintended” consequences to the detriment of historically marginalized communities, including people of color and immigrants. Intersectionality makes me focus on outcomes over time rather than intentions.