3/27/19 IRG Update from Elly Hoague:


  • LIFT

In 2017 the Immigration Rights Group decided that to form a separate non-profit organization which could provide education and financial assistance to non-citizens on Orcas. Thus, LIFT Orcas (Local Immigrant Family Treasury) was born. Since that time LIFT has provided many individuals on Orcas with the opportunity to speak with an immigration attorney about their immigration situations and possibilities. More recently LIFT has expanded its assistance to immigrants throughout San Juan County.

Recently LIFT had occasion to assist an undocumented immigrant who is a long-time island resident, married to a permanent resident and a father of several young US citizen children. He was on his way to work on a private island in the San Juans when he was detained by Customs and Border Patrol and transported to the Tacoma Detention Center. LIFT helped organize the letters necessary to prove his bond-worthiness, attended the bond hearing, and provided the bond money for his immediate release once bond was set. He is still going to face a deportation hearing sometime in the future, but in the meantime, he is with his family and has been able to continue working. He will repay the bond money as his circumstances permit.

In the coming months LIFT will be raising money to supplement its assistance fund. We encourage anyone interested in helping think of fundraising opportunities to contact Eleanor Hoague, 360-376-7101.

  • San Juan County Immigration Initiative

In 2017 the Immigration Rights Group developed an immigration initiative which, among a variety of protections, would prohibit county employees and officials from asking about immigration status in their day to day operations. Due to really extraordinary effort, the initiative was passed into law. It has gone a long way to make our neighbors from other countries feel welcome and just a little bit safer from federal authorities. Since that time both County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord and the County Sheriff Ron Krebs have said that the passage and implementation of this initiative has caused no difficulties in carrying out their duties.  

  • Immigration Rights Group Meeting

IRG remains a vital part of Orcas Women’s Coalition. We will continue to stretch a helping hand to our newer neighbors to provide them with support and friendship. We hope to have a meeting during the summer of 2019. Please join us at the next meeting which we hope will occur in June or July.


  • Keep Washington Working Bill

During 2017 and 2018, a number of immigration activists and attorneys developed a bill to modify some of our antiquated state laws which discriminate against non-citizens. This bill entitled Keep Washington Working came before the Washington State Legislature in 2018, but did not get voted by the legislature as a whole. This year it was resubmitted and right now it has been passed by the Senate and is being considered by the House. Although Debra Lekanoff is a co-sponsor of the bill it is important to let both Jeff Morris and Rep. Lekanoff know that they have the full support of our Immigration Rights Group. Please call Lekanoff’s office (360-786-7800) and Morris (360-786-7970) and let them know of your support to KEEP WASHINGTON WORKING.

  • WAISN Hotline

Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) is a statewide organization which started in 2016 under the auspices of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) to advocate on behalf of immigrants, whether documented or not. Its first project was to organize a hotline to answer calls from people who were in the process of being picked up by ICE or CBP either in a workplace raid or individually, and to get WAISN advocates to the site of the detention to assist the person(s) in distress. To our surprise, the hotline has fielded very few calls regarding workplace raids. Instead the large majority of calls have been from relatives reporting the detention of  a single family member or friend. WAISN provides a slew of necessary information to the callers, and then informs the Tacoma office of NWIRP so that they can contact the detainee at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. (WAISN does not represent persons in any legal proceedings, and NWIRP is able to do so on an extremely limited basis.)

If you are fluent in Spanish and can spare a few hours a week to be available to take hotline calls please contact Eleanor Hoague (360-376-7101. It is not difficult and is very rewarding.

  • Fair Fight Bond Fund

When ICE detains immigrants, they’re often given a choice: pay $5-25,000 to be released from custody on bond, or have their cases fast-tracked at the NW Detention Center before they can get legal help. This cost is out of reach for most families, and fast-tracked cases are more likely to result in deportation, even if the individual has a good chance of winning.

For this reason, WAISN has spawned the Immigrant Bond Fund gives immigrants in Washington a fighting chance. It provides the bond money that allows detained immigrants to go back to their lives and families while they build a case to gain status. Since its inception, it has helped with the bonds of 18 families. It acts much as LIFT does, but throughout Washington State.

  • The REAL ID Act

This federal law goes into effect in Washington State on October 1st, 2020. This will regulate what forms of ID are able to be used by the public to fly on public airlines and to enter federal properties. IRG and LIFT want all the members of our community to be prepared for the new requirements by learning about all of the options for complying with the law. A lot is at stake and providing our communities with the information they need, is a top priority for our organizations.