Immigration or citizenship status could be added to anti-discrimination law under proposed legislation

Goal of bill is to give those in the citizenship and immigration process avenues for recourse

  • Friday, February 15, 2019 2:30pm
  • News

By Emma Epperly

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Senate legislation would add citizenship or immigration status to the “law against discrimination.”

The law against discrimination currently outlaws discrimination against individuals based on race, creed, color, national origin, families with children, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, veterans status, or disability.

The bill does not differentiate immigration or citizenship status from the areas in which these groups are protected from discrimination. These areas include the right to employment, real estate transactions, credit transactions, and insurance transactions, among other areas.

The human rights commission administers the statute currently, as policy they do not ask about citizenship or immigration status.

Prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5165, District 37 Sen. Rebecca Saldaña D- Seattle, testified on the bill at the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Feb. 12. The bill was also sponsored by six other Democratic senators.

“In all cases where we, as a state, have an ability to recognize people living in our state that are residents, that are paying taxes, that are employed, that are contributing to our economy- we want to make sure they are afforded protections,” said Saldaña.

The bill does give precedent to federal regulations based on immigration and citizenship status. This means that federal prohibitions on hiring illegal immigrants and similar laws still apply but under the proposed bill it would be illegal to discriminate against illegal immigrants if they are engaging in lawful behavior.

Xochitl Maykovich of the Washington Community Action Network, an economic and racial justice advocate group, testified in support of the bill, outlining the issues in getting housing for many non-citizens or immigrants.

“There’s not a lot of recourse because it’s very clear that they’re being discriminated against because of their citizenship status but there’s really no place for them to go or no way for them to enforce their rights,” said Maykovich “I think this bill will do so much to protect people and [make] sure people stay housed.”

Enoka Heart, a representative from the ACLU of Washington, also testified in support of the bill.

“There are 1 million immigrants in Washington state, that’s one out of seven of us. They are workers, students, parents, and children, they are our neighbors and members of our communities, some have lived in Washington for decades or for most of their lives,” said Herat. “They deserve to be treated like any other Washingtonian with dignity and respect.”

Alex Hur a representative from One America, an immigrant and refugee advocacy group, testified in support of the bill, stating that discrimination is not limited to those here illegally but happens to people here legally at various stages of the immigration or citizenship process.

SB 5165 was passed out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee to the Rules Committee on Thursday.

More in News

Rotary duck, ‘Waddles,’ found in Allyn by Bremerton Police

The 15-foot inflatable duck had been stolen for over a week and was returned to Advantage Nissan

Bremerton Police notify residents of postcard scam

The postcards states “You have recently closed on your mortgage with HOMESTREET BANK.”

Fast Ferry service to operate on normal schedule July 22–27

Construction has been delayed at the Seattle passenger-only ferry dock

It’s official: Widened Tremont Street is opening Aug. 2

City is planning a celebration to mark end of 24-month project

Two level III sex offenders wanted by Kitsap County Sheriff’s Detectives

The two individuals are Codi James Cousins and Bob David Huffman Jr.

Fasten up this summer driving season, WSP says

Statistics show a startling correlation between not belting and injuries, even death

Tribal Canoe Journey celebrating 30 years in Suquamish

Traditional ocean going canoes are scheduled to land at the Charles Lawrence… Continue reading

17-year-old in serious condition following SR 305 crash

Around 1 p.m. Friday, July 12, Washington State Patrol responded to a… Continue reading

Manslaughter suspect sentenced to 90 months

Man shot Port Orchard woman while cleaning stolen rifle

Most Read