Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Stands in Solidarity with Dreamers
WTIA Stands in Solidarity with Dreamers
FullConTech is just around the corner. On September 26, we’ll head to Leavenworth to talk about the Immigrant Workforce. This has long been a critical topic for the tech industry, and it’s one that has heated up even more in the past week.
On September 5, President Trump announced that he would terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy established by the Obama administration. In response, rallies and marches took place across the country to protest the decision and show support for “Dreamers,” the nearly 800,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as children before 2007. DACA gives these young people the right to live, work, go to school, and obtain a driver’s license in this country.
OneAmerica hosted a rally and press conference in Seattle at El Centro De La Raza on Beacon Hill. Speakers included Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez.
Also at the podium was Julie Pham, WTIA’s Vice President of Community Engagement and Marketing. Julie was there to represent WTIA, which supports DACA and the passage of the DREAM Act.
Rich Stoltz, OneAmerica’s executive director and a FullConTech advisory committee member, had asked WTIA CEO Michael Schutzler to speak on behalf of business. Michael was out of town, so Julie stepped in. “I had never spoken at a rally before,” she said. “When I looked at the crowd, I got a little nervous. But then I heard the Dreamers who were there and talked about what will happen if they are deported. What they’re facing is so much scarier. They inspired me to speak out.”
Julie, herself, came to the U.S. as a child. Her parents brought her to Washington from VietNam, and the family arrived as refugees. “The only difference between the Dreamers and me,” she said, “is how we came here.”
At the OneAmerica rally, Julie presented WTIA’s position on Deferred Action Chilhood Arrivals (DACA):
The tech industry in our state and across the country stand in solidarity with the Dreamers. These are young people who were brought to our country by their parents. Most have lived here for over 10 years. America is their home because their parents brought them here – these children had no choice. They committed no crime. Dreamers want to serve this country because it is the only home they have ever known.
Today we call on our President to keep the DACA program in place. We’re also calling on Congress to finally pass the DREAM Act. The time to act is now.
These young people are an essential part of our country’s future. They are strong students and leaders in our communities. By helping them become recognized citizens, we act upon the ideals that created a strong America, and we build a better world for all of us.
OneAmerica was founded after September 11, 2001 to support immigrant communities of color, primarily Muslims, Arab Americans, East Africans, and South Asians. Since that time, it has grown to become the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Washington. The group put together last Tuesday’s rally so that “a large coalition of undocumented immigrants, elected officials, and faith, business and labor leaders [could] join in solidarity to respond and demand a solution for millions of American families that leaves no one behind.”
Roxana Norouzi, OneAmerica’s deputy director said, “The unjust announcement on DACA, and our outdated immigration system, impacts everyone. It will take all of us to win a sensible and humane vision for our nation’s immigration policies, and the urgency of this moment can’t be overstated.”
Approximately 18,000 DACA recipients live in Washington state. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced he will sue President Trump for removing DACA. Fourteen other states also plan to sue.
Since the OneAmerica rally, Julie has been thinking about what it means “to stand in solidarity.” “A lot of people who support immigrants don’t do anything to show that support because they feel that, whatever they do, it won’t be enough,” she said. “They don’t donate money because they can’t donate a lot of money. They don’t volunteer their time, because they can only give a few hours. What are simple but impactful ways our industry can stand in solidarity?”
Another question she — and everyone at WTIA — has been thinking about is: How can our industry make a difference right now? Changing immigration policy takes time. (The DREAM Act, for example, was first introduced in the Senate in 2001.) What else can we influence?