ACLU-WA Honors WA Immigrant Solidarity Network, Spokane’s Every Student Counts Alliance, and Auburn’s Youth United

News Release: 
Friday, November 3, 2017
The ACLU of Washington is honoring a statewide immigrant support network, a Spokane group that has advocated for reform of school discipline policies, and a group of Auburn students that have advocated for the rights of immigrant youth with its annual awards for 2017. The honors will be presented at the ACLU-WA’s Bill of Rights Dinner on Saturday, Nov.4 at 8:00 pm at the Seattle Westin. Featured speaker will be Laverne Cox, an Emmy-nominated actress starring in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black and a prominent equal rights advocate.  
The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) is receiving a Civil Libertarian Award for making an outstanding contribution to the cause of civil liberties and justice in the last year. In the wake of last fall’s elections, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, NWIRP, One America, 21 Progress, and other advocates for immigrants anticipated that the rights of non-citizens would be targeted under the Trump administration.  They organized a network of groups and individuals to protect immigrant communities across the state.
WAISN has focused on developing community response teams and reporting tools to galvanize support and provide resources in light of activities by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.  WAISN has established a statewide hotline to report and respond to ICE raids and detentions. It has created text alert systems for impacted people and for their allies. It has issued Know Your Rights publications in many languages and has given Know Your Rights presentations around the state.
The Every Student Counts Alliance of Spokane, a group of advocates, parents, and community groups, is receiving a Civil Libertarian Award for its vital role in successfully pushing for reform of student discipline policies in the Spokane School District. In response to advocacy by the Alliance and others, the district in 2016 overhauled its approach to discipline so as to reduce the use of suspension and expulsion and instead utilize restorative discipline, an approach that puts a premium on relationships.  Continuing its work, the Alliance successfully advocated for reform of the Spokane School District’s policy for police in schools.  In 2017 the district adopted a campus safety policy that creates stricter use-of-force guidelines and requires quarterly data reporting.
Every Student Counts has been persistent and creative in its advocacy.  Its tactics have included parent organizing, media work, serving on district committees, and cosponsoring Know Your Rights sessions for parents.  Its members also have conducted trainings for school district staff on appropriate interactions with students with disabilities.  Organizational members include Team Child, the Spokane NAACP, the ACLU-WA, the Arc of Spokane, the Northwest Justice Project, the Northwest Autism Center, the Spokane Regional Health District, and Passages Family Support.
Youth United of Auburn, formed by a group of students at Auburn Riverside High School last November to fight the rights of immigrant youth, is receiving the Youth Activist Award. The organization has led the charge to develop an inclusive resolution for Auburn public schools and to push the school district to offer additional Know Your Rights training for students and families related to immigration issues.  They’ve led protests and walkouts that have unified students from a number of schools across the district. On one march, they withstood pushback from some other students holding signs belittling their efforts and burning tires so smoke would go in their faces.
In response to Youth United’s activism, the Auburn School Board adopted changes to school policy to clarify that students’ place of birth will not be public information and clarifying that immigration enforcement officials will not automatically be permitted to access school property without a warrant or other justification approved by the Superintendent.  Group members organized other students and family members to testify at school board meetings in support of these policies, and also worked with local community groups to organize Know Your Rights trainings for young people and their families.  Their efforts will help ensure that immigrant students are safe at school and can access their constitutional right to an education.
Students involved in Youth United include Carlos Rodriguez, Claudia Flores-Bucio, Fatima Prado, Taina Troncoso, Erandi Flores-Bucio, Brittney Rivera, and Juana Rodriguez.