On Thursday, Nov. 7, a crowd protesting immigration reform began a march from Downtown Park in Bellevue to the Washington State Republican Headquarters, culminating in the arrest of 33 women. According to a press release from Washington CAN!, a group of over 150 women and families eventually gathered outside the GOP headquarters. The Bellevue Police department estimates the crowd had between 30 and 40 participants.
Bellevue College ASG Vice President of Student Affairs and Pluralism Andrea Torres took part in the march and rally outside the GOP headquarters. Torres felt the rally was a way to show the Republican Party who they are hurting by not taking action to pass a humane immigration reform.
“While a bill sits on the table waiting for them, undocumented women continue to be left in a vulnerable place,” said Torres. “Undocumented women are prone to abuse and harassment by their husbands and employers, these acts mostly go unreported. As an undocumented woman, I need immigration reform to be self-dependent and to be able to achieve my educational goals.”
All 33 women arrested remained inside the Washington State Republican Headquarters, refusing to leave following a warning issued by the property landlord and Bellevue Police. According to Bellevue Police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate, the women arrested were transported to the Bellevue booking facility and booked for criminal trespass in the first degree, interviewed and subsequently released. Among the arrested was the wife of outgoing Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Peggy Lynch.
At press time, charges have not yet been filed by the Bellevue district court prosecutor.
The rally was part of a series of coordinated nation-wide events demanding immediate action on a comprehensive immigration law that treats women and children fairly.
“[Today’s] action took place at the Washington State Republican Headquarters because we are calling on our four Republican Representatives, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler and Reichert, to pass an immigration reform bill that treats women and families fairly,” said Rachael DeCruz, communications director for Washington CAN!. “House Republicans continue to block [H.R. 15] from moving forward, and we’re calling on them to take action now. Women and children can no longer wait for immigration reform.”
H.R. 15: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act is an immigration reform bill proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives. The bill addresses border security, legalization of the undocumented, interior enforcement of immigration laws and amendments to current legal immigration programs.
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchinson was in Washington D.C. at the time of the rally, but expressed in a statement her agreement that the current immigration system needs reform.
“It’s unfortunate that I was in D.C. and was unable to hear the concerns of these women. Like them, we agree that out immigration system is broken and we must find a solution,” said Hutchinson in a statement. “We are happy to have a dialogue with anyone on the important issue of immigration reform. You cannot fix a broken law by breaking the law.”