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Center for Human Rights - Celebrating 15 Years! Students • Partners • Research

Keira Henson Deepens Immigrant Rights Solidarity on UW Campus

The UW student group, Immigrant Rights are Human Rights: Students for La Resistencia, tables on campus.

October 4, 2023

The Osheroff-Clark Fellowship funding has been vital throughout the 2023 spring quarter for me and my fellow students at the University of Washington and has allowed the newly Registered Student Organization (RSO), Immigrant Rights are Human Rights: Students for La Resistencia, to establish itself within the campus community. With these funds, we’ve invested in a model of raising money and support for local immigrant rights group La Resistencia by creating and selling merchandise and doing public outreach. Funds raised support La Resistencia’s work by increasing money available for commissary needs for individuals inside the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) as well as funds needed during deportation proceedings. Funds also support gas stipends to get to and from the detention center, printing posters for tabling events, and creating business cards.

Selling merchandise has proven to be an effective way to raise commissary funds, as well as spreading awareness and education, therefore much of the remaining funds will be used as seed money to buy materials to continue this work. The RSO is additionally beginning to expand its connections and outreach to Seattle University to establish more solidarity and mobilize students.

Personally, this funding has been influential in the opportunities it has allowed me and my fellow RSO members to have—to flexibly mobilize around the changing needs of the individuals inside the NWDC, and therefore the changing strategies La Resistencia sees fit to utilize. This quarter, our role has expanded as we provide research support focusing on the implementation of Washington state HB1470—a bill that, among other things, gives the Washington State Department of Health oversight over the detention center—as we now shift to ensure health services follow through with holding the NWDC accountable for its conditions inside the center. The passing of this bill was a major victory in the spring of 2023, yet the Department of Health continues to be apprehensive about inspecting and using agency regulations to take legal action, action that will make a huge impact on the quality of everyday living conditions for individuals held in the NWDC. We as students intend to be the magnifying glass to HB1470, as such policies should be expected to be enacted therefor we intend to monitor the implementation of the bill. Funds from the Osheroff-Clark award will be used if we mobilize students to travel to Olympia and speak to elected officials about concerns of HB1470’s implementation, which is something I and many others look forward to. Alongside this ongoing work, there are new campaigns we intend to help establish; including the Free Them All campaign focusing on individuals that demand their release, and campaigns looking at the ways Immigration and Customs Enforcement implements alternatives to detention.

Without the Osheroff-Clark fund award, this RSO, and in general student advocation at the University of Washington, would not have been able to support La Resistencia and the individuals inside the detention center so quickly and in the multitude of ways we have up to this point. I am so grateful for the magnitude of skills I have learned with this hands-on experience through navigating student organizing through activism, not only through the guidance of La Resistencia but also through the many professors I have had through the Law, Societies, and Justice program.