This post provides updates on the activities of the DC Immigrant Justice Platform (“the Platform”) (#ImmigrantJusticeDC) and the statuses of five local initiatives (listed below) that the Platform currently promotes. Please see our February post on the Platform for further information about what each initiative accomplishes. On March 30, 2023, members of the Platform congregated for a lobby day at the John Wilson Building. During this event, advocates and individuals from DC’s immigrant community met with members of the DC Council and their staff, and shared why these initiatives promote safety, security, and fair treatment for immigrants living in DC.
These initiatives include:
- Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act
- On April 4, 2023, the D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass this bill, which will, among other things, decriminalize street vending without a license. Catalyzed in 2019 by a social media video in which a young woman was pushed to the ground by police in DC for selling plantain chips on a sidewalk, the movement to decriminalize street vending has highlighted the fact that 100% of the people arrested for street vending are non-white. This bill still needs mayoral and congressional approval as well as funding. DC street vendors will be immediately decriminalized upon full passage of the measure despite funding being required for other important aspects of the bill.
- Migrant Services Eligibility Clarification Emergency and Temporary Amendment Act
- On April 4, 2023, the Council also unanimously passed this bill, which adds harm reduction amendments to the Migrant Services and Supports Temporary Amendment Act. The Council should continue working with migrants and advocates on any permanent legislation around this issue.
- Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2021
- This bill needs local funding and implementation. The fiscal impact statement stated that this bill requires funding of approximately $1.42 million in FY2023 and $1.64 million over the financial plan to implement the bill. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 does not include any funding for this bill. The Board of Elections requires funding to ensure that DC residents, who are also immigrants have the right to vote. Non-citizens in the U.S. today are disenfranchised, and, in many ways, this is their Voting Rights Act that was championed and won during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. While both groups, who are not mutually exclusive, face significant challenges, this bill is a step in the right direction for DC.
- Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act
- This bill needs effective implementation by executive agencies including from the Attorney General’s office, Department of Employment Services and the Office of Human Rights and needs $912,000 in funding in DC’s FY24 budget. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 does not include any funding for this bill. Anita Bonds, Chair of the Executive Administration & Labor Committee, should seek to fund this measure since her committee oversees the Department of Employment Services (DOES) and domestic workers are DC workers. In addition, chairs Pinto and Nadeau should work with Councilmember Bonds to fund the ~$300,000 per committee needed to ensure women of color are able to work in DC homes with long overdue rights and protections that most workers in DC have long had. The best way to celebrate Care Workers Recognition Month is with funding this bill!
- Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Amendment Act
- A public hearing date for this bill needs to be set by co-introducer and Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Chair, Councilmember Brooke Pinto with comments from the Committee on Facilities and Family Services chaired by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George.
We hope to celebrate the changes, hearing, and funding of all of these measures in time for DC’s Immigrant Heritage Month a month-long June celebration of the incredible contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make throughout DC.
Please follow and widely share the DC Immigrant Justice Platform at #ImmigrantJusticeDC for more information and updates.