Dear GSBA Members & Friends,
One irrational, thoughtless assault against our common humanity after another. Throughout the last few months we have watched our country unravel the principles and values that we strive to live by. I understand that we have deceived ourselves, since those values were never truly enjoyed by all, but we held on to hope as civil rights movement after civil rights movement fought to ensure equality under the law for all. Yesterday, hearing that over 800,000 people in the U.S. who are workers, students, neighbors, friends and family, could be deported and forced to leave the country that they have known as home for most of their lives, has left us all feeling sick and ashamed. How does a country built on immigrant labor, a country whose only 'true Americans' are those of us who are Native American, suddenly talk about rescinding the right to live, work and go to school in the home where they were raised? And, yet, the Trump administration's overturning of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, will do just that.
For those of us in GSBA, we know that many of our members will be directly affected by this. As a Jew, I have to say, the thought of forcing people to leave their homes, gives me chills. Whether as small business owners, employees or students, many of our members are from families who migrated to the United States to flee persecution or to find a better life for their families. For the LGBT community, Washington State stands out as a safe haven for those in countries where the laws do not recognize their right to exist. Even before this announcement, GSBA was speaking out, contacting our Congressional delegation and joining with other elected officials and business leaders, condemning any overturn of DACA.
But, for us, our greatest concern is our scholars, who as you know, think of GSBA as family. Over the last two days we have reached out to our Scholars offering them support and resources. As Travis Mears, our Director of Development and Scholarship Programs, stated to our scholars:
'We understand that you now may have new questions and grave concerns about whether this decision jeopardizes your safety, funding and, more seriously, you or your family's immigration status. Unfortunately, we don't have the answers but we do know we will do all we can to have your back. Your GSBA funding is secure and we are more committed than ever before to continue our work for equality and inclusion, including the rights of our immigrant or undocumented students. We encourage each of you to take time to care for yourselves and your families during this difficult time.'
There is no doubt that we are all better off because of the contributions that our scholars and our business members give to our community. Fortunately in Washington State we have a governor, attorney general, county executive, mayors and other elected officials who have the courage of their convictions and have vowed to fight this ruling with every tool at their disposal. Yes, elections do matter! We are also proud to have corporate members, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon who defend to any of their employees threatened with deportation under the repeal of DACA. We know many of our other corporate partners are also ready to stand their ground to support their employees. The economy of Washington is very dependent on the talent and labor of our DACA workforce and would be devastated by suddenly losing those employees. We all benefit from the richness of a multicultural student body and workforce, and the loss of over 18,000 talented and engaged residents will profoundly affect us all. But, of course, the greatest cost will be the human one, if we are forced to tear families and friends apart. This simply cannot happen. Once again, we call on our GSBA family to do what we do best: speak up, reach out, contact your Congressperson and ask that they make the passage of a permanent DACA law a top priority.
For those that will be directly affected by DACA, below are some resources that are prepared to provide you help and support.
Louise Chernin, President & CEO
Greater Seattle Business Association
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