LatinX city council member speaks at BC

On Monday Oct. 9, Seattle Council Member Lorena Gonzalez came and spoke at Bellevue College regarding her personal story and the city of Seattle’s stance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Gonzalez grew up in Central Washington where she proclaims women of her color, Latinas, never had power. In her words, “I very seldom, if not ever, saw women who looked like me working in positions of power to change the inequities I saw every day.” She believes that because of her identity as a Latina and her previous work as a migrant farmworker allowed her to shape her views to be quite different from other politicians. “Every day, I carry with me the sentiments of knowing what it’s like to not get paid or what it’s like to be discriminated against,” she went on to say. These perspectives allowed her to continue to fight for what she believes is right in City Hall.
As a city-wide representative, it is Gonzalez’s duty to promote the wellbeing of all Seattle residents. Since her start in November 2015, she has helped hourly workers by passing a secure scheduling ordinance, allocated one million dollars towards a legal defense fund to provide free civil legal aid to immigrants and refugees who work or live in Seattle facing deportation, and instituted a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program that was signed into law, and passing meaningful police reform. “I’m excited to build on this work and to continue advancing an equitable agenda that serves everyone,” she stated.
Gonzalez’s talk this week was linked to Resolution 314, which was passed by Bellevue College earlier this year on Sept. 6, as detailed in a press release by the Bellevue Reporter. This stated that the college “will urgently and forcefully advocate to all of our elected federal officials that Congress act to protect students and other childhood arrivals from deportation and provide these individuals with long-term opportunities to live, study, and work in the United States.” Mareth Flores, director of Development at Bellevue College, invited Gonzalez to speak on behalf of BC’s Latino affinity group as part of the college’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage month. As well as that, on Oct. 2 Gonzalez passed Resolutions 31775 and 31779 which “supported immigrant survivors and protected Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients,” according to the press release.
One student asked Gonzalez, “What has been done at the City level to help immigrants and refugees in Seattle?” She brought back a city statement from earlier this year and said, “In January of this year, the City of Seattle declared itself to be a welcoming city. This means that we’re doubling down on our commitment to continue providing services to all Seattle residents, without regard to their immigration status.” Additionally, this resolution reaffirms their direction to the Seattle Police Department to provide public safety services to immigrants regardless of immigration status. When asked what resources students could be directed to, Gonzalez pointed out four different programs in the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, One America, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and United We Dream.