Lynne Dodson on:

Racial Justice and Immigrant Rights

Growing up on the Colville Reservation and seeing the problems confronting Native Americans has left me with a deep sensitivity and concern about racial injustice. Moreover, as a labor leader, I firmly believe that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Depriving any one group of people their rights weakens rights for all of us. As your legislator, I'll work hard to make sure that all Washingtonians are treated equally.

  • Reducing the educational achievement gap is critically important. In my education position paper I have outlined various steps that I believe need to be taken, including reducing class size; ending the exclusive use of the WASL test as the only assessment tool for students; recruiting and retaining a high quality, diverse pool of teachers; ensuring adequate family support services; and publicly-funded quality early childhood education. This should specifically include encouraging bilingual students to become teachers.

  • We need to amend I-200 by allowing public universities and colleges to consider race, ethnicity, color and national origin in admission policies for the purpose of promoting diversity, in line with recent court rulings.

  • The State's formula for mental health services is skewed, short-changing poor King County residents. As a result, while many Washington counties are able to serve 20-30% of mental health clients through non-Medicaid funding, King County can serve only 1%. We need to change the model by which the state allocates funding for mental health services to make it consistent with actual mental health needs and the cost of living in each regional support network.

  • Racial profiling has no place in a free and democratic society. The legislature has mandated the state police to gather data to analyze whether racial profiling is occurring, and to develop and implement educational materials. This needs to be expanded to cover local law enforcement agencies, as well.

  • Voting rights are the cornerstone of democracy. Washington is one of only 12 states in which those released from prison don't regain the right to vote. Over 150,000 Washington residents – 3.7% of the state's voting-age population – cannot vote simply because they haven't been able to pay all their fines and court costs. This prohibits 24% of African-American males in Washington from voting. It is the modern equivalent of a poll tax, locking the poor and particularly poor people of color out of the system. When an individual has completed his or her sentence, the right to vote should be promptly restored, as in most of the US.

  • The state should increase funding for start-up and expansion of minority and woman owned businesses, and strengthen programs to support these businesses.

  • Our local law enforcement personnel need the trust and support of the community, and should do what we hired them to do: enforce our state and local laws. Local law enforcement should not enforce federal immigration laws, nor should they inquire about immigration status.

  • We need to restore medical assistance programs for immigrant children and adults. This was a cost-efficient program providing medical care for 28,000 Washington residents, 97% of them children. Maintaining the health of Washingtonians helps everyone in the state.

  • We also should increase funding for the state naturalization program that has helped over 3000 immigrants and refugees to achieve US citizenship.

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