[lg policy] Tacoma seeks diverse pool of applicants for new immigrant commission

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Feb 9 10:30:57 EST 2018

 City seeks diverse pool of applicants for new immigrant commission
Andrew Fickes
February 8, 2018
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Tacoma City Council has extended the application deadline for its recently
established Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs to Feb. 12,
allowing for extra time to attract community residents to fill 11 positions
and one alternate position.

The 11 positions will include one youth or young adult under the age of 25.
Interviewing applicants is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22,
after which City Council will nominate and appoint by a majority vote. The
Council desires that commission members are reflective of the “diversity
and national origin of the immigrant and refugee communities,” according to
the city website. Commission members will serve a three-year term.

“We are seeking residents of Tacoma from various backgrounds and experience
with the issues affecting immigrants and refugees,” said Alison Beason,
senior policy analyst for the City of Tacoma’s Office of Equity and Human
Rights. “There is a misconception that there is a required skill set or
education level for civic engagement. The City of Tacoma needs residents
who have a passion for change and/or to participate in their local
government activities.”

The City’s journey toward developing this commission started in 2014 when
the Council expressed a desire to make the city a more welcoming and
immigrant friendly city. Beason said the City made it official when it
joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative (Resolution 39116).

“This movement encouraged communities across the United States to maximize
opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality,” Beason said.

The Council took the next step of establishing the Immigrant and Refugee
Affairs Task Force. Composed of more than 30 members representing a variety
of ethnicities, the task force helped the City identify the needs of the
immigrant and refugee community and recommended three priorities to the
Council and former Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

The three priorities were to establish a deportation defense fund, a
language access policy, and form a permanent commission on immigrant and
refugee affairs.

In regard to the deportation defense fund, the City last October made an
initial allocation of $50,000 to start the fund. Beason said that to date,
the City has received more than $2,000 in community donations. The City is
now conducting an active search for an entity to administer the contracts
for legal services to help individuals facing possible deportation.

Beason said the commission will help to identify the needs of the community
and advise on how to provide positive outcomes for the immigrant and
refugee population. The commission will also play an advisory role in
enacting and implementing the language access policy legislation.

Tacoma’s population encompasses 31 percent minority, so a commission like
this makes sense. Approximately 13 percent of the city’s population is
foreign born, Beason said.

“This can range from Africa, East Asia, Eastern Europe, Pacific Islands,
and South America,” Beason said. “We are seeking members from these
communities to represent the various struggles. The top languages spoken in
Tacoma are Spanish, Khmer, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. In an effort to
be more inclusive we are currently translating our (committees, boards, and
commissions) application into these languages.”


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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