Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hope: The Common Denominator

Falling snow did not deter those who gathered in Olympia yesterday for the third annual Refugee and Immigrant Legislative Day. The event, organized by the Refugee Women’s Alliance, is an opportunity for refugees and immigrants to come together in our state capital for a day and share their concerns and ideas with legislators. It is important to hear these concerns and ideas, because our state ranks tenth in the nation in percentage of people who are foreign-born. Washington is also fourth-largest resettlement state in the country.

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (Seattle) represents the 37th Legislative District – one of the most ethnically diverse districts in our ethnically diverse state. Nearly one in four residents of the 37th district was born outside of the United States. Rep. Santos addressed those who had gathered for a rally outside the capitol, saying that nothing is more defining to all people – regardless of country of birth – than hope.

“Hope is the fuel that propelled our new president into office,” Rep. Santos said. “Hope gives people strength during challenging times.”

She also reminded those in attendance that a core value of American governance is the notion of equality. All public policy – whether it concerns jobs, education, health care, or business opportunities, must be drafted in a way that includes our refugee and immigrant populations.

Despite the cold, Rep. Santos’ remarks got a very warm response from the crowd.