Justice Gonzalez visits Bellevue College

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez came to visit Bellevue College on Tuesday Oct. 10 to talk about the history of immigration and racial issues in the United States. A former King County Superior Court Judge, he was appointed to the State Supreme Court by Governor Chris Gregoire in November 2011. In a press release, Gregoire said that Gonzalez is “exceptionally well qualified,” citing his experience as a judge, prosecutor and private attorney. Other compliments given include that he is a “very good listener with a record of displaying a thorough understanding of the issues.” Gonzalez was invited to the college by Cora Nixon of the El Centro Latino program at Bellevue College. “I spoke after being invited by Cora Nixon on behalf of El Centro Latino. I came to the attention of the group after the Supreme Court heard oral argument on campus last term,” he explained, also including that “requests for judges to speak with students can be sent to the Administrative Office of the Courts or requests for specific judges can be sent directly to the judge.”
Gonzalez explained how people in general influence themselves by the perceptions or prejudice that we still have. For example, Marian Romero, the Coordinator for the El Centro Latino program, mentioned that “Latinos and some Democrats would end up electing him because of his name, but not because of his resume.”
Gonzalez mentioned that law or justice terms can be sometimes abstract, and the reasons why those laws or rules are abstract have changed over the time. For an instance he used the words “white” versus “Caucasian.” Gonzalez referenced a book written by President Abraham Lincoln where he preferred using the word “white” and that it is established that only “white men” could apply for naturalization. He gave two examples of people who tried to do that process and were denied because of their color although they both showed their Caucasian heritage. “Of course, and fortunately, these norms have changed,” Gonzalez pointed out.
Romero recalled a lunch she and others had with Gonzalez which allowed them to talk more openly about their thoughts. Gonzalez asked them their thoughts about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy in America that allows individuals who enter this country as a minor to renew a two-year delay for their deportation in order to obtain a work permit.
To this they were able to advocate for the issues that they considered unfair and talk about why it’s important that more people have an understanding of the issues, considering DACA was removed in September of this year by the Trump administration. In this talk Gonzalez mentioned that he would like to motivate people to get to know more about immigration issues and the stories behind them so that they can understand why said issues are so important.