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PNS Daily Newscast - November 25, 2020 

Feeding hungry families, on Thanksgiving and beyond; and is that turkey really from a family farm? (Note to Broadcasters: The newscast has been granted a holiday for Thanksgiving, but we'll return first thing Friday.)

2020Talks - November 25, 2020 

CORRECTED 2:30pm MST 11/25 - Linda Thomas-Greenfield would be the second Black woman in US UN Ambassador role, Susan Rice was the first. Biden nominees speak; how can social media spread less misinformation and be less polarizing. *2020Talks will not be released 11/26 & 11/27*

Critics: WA Immigrant Advisory Board Lacks Influence

Bellingham's 12-member Immigration Advisory Board meets once a month. (CascadeCreatives/Adobe Stock)
Bellingham's 12-member Immigration Advisory Board meets once a month. (CascadeCreatives/Adobe Stock)
October 15, 2020

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The City of Bellingham began convening its Immigrant Advisory Board over the summer.

But some immigrant communities and their advocates say the board's impact has been hindered. The group meets once a month.

Marisol Chapina, co-founder of Raid Relief to Reunite Families, started the group after her partner was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the city, and her partner now sits on the board.

Chapina attends meetings and has acted as a translator.

"Some of the board members were kind of there to learn, and it's like, that's not the purpose of that group, right?" Chapina observed. "It's to give advice to the city council on issues in our community regarding immigrant and immigrants' rights and protections, and ensuring that they feel safe."

According to Bellingham's website, the board's purpose is to "review and evaluate existing policies and make specific recommendations to the Mayor and City Council." A city spokesperson said bodies like this are "generally advisory in nature and do not have direct decision-making authority," which is outlined in the city charter. It's next meeting is Tuesday.

Liz Darrow, media coordinator for the immigrant rights group Community to Community Development, sits on the board.

She said it was established to quell dissatisfaction with the city about its immigration policies, but is still missing the mark. Darrow is concerned the city council isn't looking out for vulnerable populations.

"I don't think they understand the risks that immigrants and undocumented people in our community face every day, just by existing here," Darrow argued.

Darrow wants the board's three vacancies to be filled and for members to be able to send proxies, because the meetings can be hard to attend for folks who work nights.

A city spokesperson said the city plans to revise the board to allow alternates and then, will fill those vacancies.

Darrow also believes the group hasn't gone far enough to investigate the connection between city police and Customs and Border Patrol.

"We want better data, we want more transparency, we want to know why those vacancies haven't been filled, and we're just not getting any answers," Darrow asserted. "So, at some point you just stop asking and do something else."

Disclosure: Community to Community Development contributes to our fund for reporting on Human Rights/Racial Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, Poverty Issues, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA