Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Next on WDA agenda: immigrants’ rights group

Last March, Whitman Direct Action sent three representatives to Sadhana, India as part of the Sadhana Clean Water Project. This November, WDA decided where their next project would take them –– Mexico.

Rather than sunning on the beaches of Cancún, however, WDA will be researching and forging alliances between immigrants’ rights groups throughout the country.

The group chose Salem, Ore.-based CAUSA, an immigrant rights group, as their partnering non-governmental organization (NGO) in mid-November, after meeting with CAUSA representative Francisco Lopez. WDA plans to help CAUSA map and catalogue grass-roots immigrant rights organizations in Washington state, and later do the same in Mexico.

“We will basically be documenting the who, where, and what of [Washington immigrant-rights] groups…as well as finding out what they need to function more efficiently, and their relationship with their home communities,” said sophomore John Loranger.

According to Loranger, the ultimate goal of this project will be increased communication and coordinated action between the immigrant rights NGOs throughout Washington, Oregon, and Mexico. WDA will work toward uniting the groups by encouraging official alliances between groups with similar goals and mutually beneficial resources.

In seeking to serve the immigrant communities themselves, WDA is striving to put the emphasis on listening and responding to their stated needs.

“This work with CAUSA is reflective of WDA’s mission to work collaboratively by valuing the voices of those we seek to both help support and learn from. I believe this type of synergistic relationship is at the heart of much of what WDA strives to do,” senior WDA member Aisha Fukushima said.

CAUSA, which works primarily with Hispanics in Oregon and Washington, has been nationally recognized for its efforts. According to the group’s website, they have been instrumental in defeating a number of Oregon ballot measures that would have negatively impacted immigrants in the region.

CAUSA representatives began an e-mail correspondence with WDA earlier this semester and soon realized that the Whitman-based group could put forth the time and willpower necessary to undertake a coordination of NGOs in the region. According to Senior Tim Shadix, who traveled to Sadhana, India as part of the WDA initiative last year, CAUSA’s work also matches up well with the two of the primary goals of WDA, community-building and social justice.

“The project will address some of the challenges faced by immigrant communities that experience significant economic and social marginalization in both Mexico and the United States,” Shadix said.

“In this sense the project fits our goals perfectly by providing a new approach to an issue, focusing
on relationship building, and working with a community that faces significant marginalization.”

According to Shadix, WDA will soon look to take concrete steps toward mapping and contacting actual groups in Oregon, Washington, and, eventually, Mexico. WDA officials will meet with Lopez at the end of January to develop an action plan for the group, and Shadix predicts that the rest of the school year will be spent mapping out communications with the immigrant-rights groups.

“Establishing a clear picture of current conditions is the first step we must complete before we can begin to think about how to go about building and strengthening transnational networks,” Shadix said.

Despite having selected their primary project for the year only recently, WDA has been active throughout the school year. Over parent weekend (Oct. 24-26), The group raised more than $1,000 dollars at a silent auction of items donated by local businesses and students.

For Shadix, the opportunity to work with CAUSA represents a chance to improve inequalities that he sees in his own community.

“I believe that conditions faced by many immigrants in the U.S. represent a gross injustice,” he said.

“Given that these human rights abuses occur in the very communities where I have lived, and where I theoretically have the most agency, I personally feel a strong sense of obligation to do something about the problem.”

If you are interested in donating your time or funds to WDA, please contact Loranger at [email protected].

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