Discussion to highlight immigrants’ rights in Port Townsend

Free event set Tuesday at Port Townsend church

PORT TOWNSEND — Speakers from the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network and the Washington Defender Association will present information in a free public event today.

The discussion will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave.

The hourlong talk will focus on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the federal Department of Homeland Security. A 30-minute question-and-answer session will follow.

“Their goal is not just to get us up to speed on what’s happening in Washington state, but to get us in Jefferson County to participate,” said Libby Palmer of the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Advocates (JCIRA), which is sponsoring the event.

The speakers are Monserrat Padilla, the co-director of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, and Annie Benson, a senior directing attorney for the Washington Defender Association’s Immigrant Defense project.

Both organizations led an effort to pass the Keep Washington Working Act last year.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the act into law in May 2019, and it’s now known as the strongest “sanctuary” law in the country, JCIRA said in a press release.

The act prohibits law enforcement officers from a number of activities, including asking about immigration status or nationality, unless it’s for an ongoing criminal investigation.

Individuals can’t be stopped or detained simply to determine immigration status, nor can they be held on ICE or Border Patrol detainers if warrants aren’t signed by a judge.

Palmer said the discussion will focus on communities partnering with state and local government officials to mobilize resistance to ICE and Border Patrol actions.

There have been no reports in Jefferson County regarding violations of the act, Palmer said.

Padilla works with more than 100 statewide immigrants’ rights organizations, and Benson has worked closely with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on preventing courtroom arrests by ICE agents, Palmer said.

In addition the the public, Palmer said she has invited the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners, Port Townsend City Council members and other government officials to attend.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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