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Practical ways to help your immigrant or refugee neighbor

Flickr photo by Molly Adams of Los Angeles March for Immigrant Rights

Practical ways to help your immigrant or refugee neighbor

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By Elizabeth Backstrom

You may have noticed this is a busy year on Capitol Hill. Problems seem huge and your influence probably feels small. One of the ways oppression works is it makes people forget they have any power. We can’t always give people power directly, but we can help people remember the power they’ve always had. If you’re concerned about the recent rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and related legislation like the proposed travel ban, you can still help.

Some practical steps to take action, sourced from local nonprofit World Relief Spokane, include the following:

  • Help out at or attend a local legal clinic with licensed immigration attorneys. If you’re not an attorney, volunteer to set up, take down or do something else.
  • Follow the events of undocumented student activists at Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University or the Spokane Dream Project via the Washington Dream Coalition.
  • Attend a vigil like the one held recently at Gonzaga University. Stay tuned for more. Vigils may seem like a small step, but they show the public and elected officials. that we stand with people being threatened. In this time of increased digital presence, physically showing up speaks volumes. It gets needed news coverage about events and causes you’re passionate about.
  • Keep calling and writing your local and state representatives.
  • Consider speaking on a platform of your faith when you talk about issues like DACA, especially if you are a public figure, teacher or someone with a following who can command influence.
  • Stay educated and help educate your communities. Relevant organizations to follow and read about include United We Dream, World Relief, World Relief Spokane, the Peace and Justice Action League, Fuse Spokane (which has an immigration action team) and Fuse Washington.
Elizabeth Backstrom

About Elizabeth Backstrom

Elizabeth Backstrom majored in journalism at Western Washington University and currently works as a content analyst and grant writer in Spokane. Her background is in newswriting and features, but if an overabundance of caffeine is consumed, she has been known to write a humor piece or two. Backstrom attended various Christian churches growing up in Spokane and currently attends First Covenant Church, an inner-city ministry in downtown Spokane.

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