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Important resolutions being voted on at Sat. Sept. 24 General Membership Meeting

After a vote on Bylaw amendments, the 10:30 am General Membership Meeting will discuss and then vote on two resolutions. The first will be a Second Reading of a Resolution in Support of an Immigrant Resource Center. A simple majority is required for passage on Second Reading. The second is a request to formally support a Resolution drafted by Indivisible Bellingham and that will be introduced to Bellingham City Council by Council Member Kristina Michele Martens, asking that Bellingham be made a safe haven for out-of-state persons seeking abortion care in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade. A simple majority is required on this as well. The two texts are as follows: Resolution in support of an Immigrant Resource Center Whereas it is more necessary than ever for people to come together across race, legal status, and class to ensure no one is blocked from their basic human rights to safety, dignity, and belonging; and Whereas immigrants, especially immigrants of color, are not being provided equal access to safe housing, living-wage jobs, healthcare, and full civic and community participation; and Whereas when it comes to basic human rights, government inaction and unjustified delay effectively deny those rights; and Whereas many disasters hit immigrant communities disproportionately hard, including recent flooding, the pandemic, and growing housing injustice; and Whereas those vulnerabilities are made worse by unequal access to local government resources, including services, funding, and representation, due to inadequate or nonexistent language accommodation, as well as general isolation from and non-accountability to immigrant communities; and Whereas many U.S. cities already fund immigrant resource centers, including Seattle[1], Buffalo[2], Denver[3], Los Angeles[4], San Francisco[5], Boston[6], Chicago[7], New York[8], Nashville[9], San Antonio[10], Houston[11], Detroit[12], Philadelphia[13], and Baltimore[14]; and Whereas, organizations such as Cities for Action[15], a network of over 120 cities, offers support and guidance on best practices for municipalities seeking to expand services for immigrant communities; and Whereas the City of Bellingham Mayor has expressed support for an Immigrant Resource Center and the Bellingham City Council has voted unanimously to request that the Mayor’s Office develop a proposal to this end; and Whereas directly affected community members and allies advocated for this first step and expect timely and accountable follow-through; and Whereas the City of Bellingham has 10.5 million dollars in unspent American Rescue Plan funds[16] and historically large budget reserves; Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, that the Whatcom Democrats call on the Bellingham Mayor and City Council to establish a city and wherever possible, other government agency​-funded Immigrant Resource Center with mandates determined by impacted community members of the Immigration Advisory Board, in consultation with impacted communities, with the following provisions:

  • that any ordinance or executive order establishing an Immigrant Resource Center shall create an oversight role for the Immigration Advisory Board;

  • that the establishment of an Immigrant Resource Center shall include measurable goals for the organization and mandate an annual report to, and quarterly meetings with, the City of Bellingham Immigration Advisory Board;

  • that the establishment of an Immigrant Resource Center shall provide funding for center staff including an Executive Director whose hiring selection includes input and review by the Immigration and Advisory Board throughout the recruitment and hiring process. The Executive Director will provide reports to the Immigration Advisory Board along with City Council and the Mayor.

  • that the Immigrant Resource Center shall have the ability to expand its activities and offerings to flexibly meet the real-world needs of local immigrant communities,

  • that the Immigrant Resource Center shall have a mandate to create accessible and frequent opportunities for community input on the direction of the agency.

[1] https://www.seattle.gov/iandraffairs [2] https://www.buffalo.edu/immigration-services.html [3] https://denverfoundation.org/denver-immigrant-legal-services-fund/ [4] https://oia.lacounty.gov/services/ [5] https://sf.gov/get-immigration-legal-help [6] https://www.boston.gov/departments/immigrant-advancement [7] https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/supp_info/office-of-new-americans/resource-flyers-for-new-americans.html [8] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/immigrants/index.page [9] https://library.nashville.gov/services/services-immigrants-and-refugees [10] https://www.sanantonio.gov/humanservices/ImmigrationServices [11] https://www.houstontx.gov/na/services/english.pdf [12] https://detroitmi.gov/government/mayors-office/office-immigrant-affairs [13] https://www.phila.gov/departments/office-of-immigrant-affairs/ [14] https://mima.baltimorecity.gov/ [15] https://www.citiesforaction.us/ [16] http://whatcomwatch.org/index.php/article/bellingham-city-council-68/ A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING, REAFFIRMING, AND SUPPORTING THE REPEATED DECISIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON TO PROTECT ACCESS TO ABORTION. WHEREAS, reproductive privacy and decision-making are deeply personal matters; and WHEREAS, the people of the state of Washington adopted Initiative 120 in 1991, which recognized and reaffirmed that the government or its agents may not interfere with or deny a pregnant individual’s fundamental right of privacy in making reproductive decisions, such as whether to obtain an abortion; and WHEREAS, to date, Washington is the only state to recognize this fundamental right by a vote of the people; and WHEREAS, the people of the state of Washington have rejected attempts (I-471 in 1984 and I-694 in 1998) to restrict or limit the rights declared and affirmed by popular vote to ensure that a pregnant individual’s choice and bodily autonomy in their health care decisions, including their reproductive health care decisions; and WHEREAS, the Washington Constitution determines governments are established to protect and maintain the individual rights of its people under Article 1 Section 1; and WHEREAS, the Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood Health Center in the City of Bellingham sees thousands of patients annually with a number seeking abortion care from out of state and could be further impacted due to Idaho and others states’ abortion bans going into effect; and WHEREAS, the City of Bellingham, as a political subdivision of the state of Washington, is bound by the “public policy of the state of Washington that:

  • Every woman and all individuals have the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control;

  • Every pregnant woman and pregnant individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion;

  • The state shall not deny or interfere with a pregnant woman’s and pregnant individual’s fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion;

  • The state shall not discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information”; and

WHEREAS, state law also prohibits the state (and its political subdivisions) from “deny[ing] or interfere[ing] with a pregnant woman’s and pregnant individual’s right to choose to have an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or to protect their life or health”; and WHEREAS, despite these repeated decisions by the people of the state of Washington, efforts to undermine, deny, and interfere with an individual’s fundamental rights to privacy and autonomy in reproductive decisions continue today, such as the recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overruled individuals’ rights to make decisions about their own bodies and health care; and WHEREAS, nevertheless, Washington state law continues to protect a pregnant woman’s and pregnant individual’s fundamental right to personal autonomy and privacy in making reproductive decisions, free from government interference, and the City of Bellingham and its officers must and will adhere to and enforce those rights; and WHEREAS, mayors of cities such as Tacoma, Olympia, Spokane, Boise, Seattle and the United States Conference of Mayors have declared their support for an individual’s right to abortion access, and have directed their law enforcement agencies not to assist in the investigation or prosecution of any individual exercising their right to abortion access or reproductive health or any individual providing such essential health care services when scarce taxpayer resources can be better spent protecting public health and public safety departments should be focused on more pressing needs; and WHEREAS, community members are calling on the leaders of Bellingham to make statements in support of abortion access; and WHEREAS, the people of Bellingham should know if their city resources, including law enforcement, are being used to assist in the investigation or prosecution of the legally protected exercise of the above-stated rights; and WHEREAS, Washington State has a long legal history of protecting reproductive rights including ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment on 3/22/74, the Reproductive Parity Act of 2018, the Protecting Pregnancy Act of 2021, the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act of 2022, and the Multi-state Commitment to Reproductive Freedom signed by the governors of Washington, Oregon and California in June 2022. NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Bellingham recognizes, supports, and reaffirms the vitality of the public policy choice made repeatedly by the voters of the state of Washington and enshrined in the Washington Constitution to ensure that all women and pregnant individuals have the fundamental right to personal autonomy and privacy in their reproductive decisions, including the right to abortion. BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the City of Bellingham is in firm opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in overturning Roe v. Wade, and the removal of federal protection for accessing reproductive care and services for all residents of Bellingham and across the nation. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Bellingham City Council urges our federal delegation to immediately pass legislation codifying the rights to abortion, reproductive healthcare and personal autonomy that are currently provided by Washington law to residents of and visitors to Washington to ensure that all people in Bellingham and across the nation have the right to the personal privacy and bodily autonomy that are needed for their own health care decisions. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Bellingham Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office shall refrain from providing any cooperation or assistance to any out-of-state law enforcement agency, public entity, or private party if the matter concerns abortion-related conduct, or other reproductive health care or services including but not limited to declining to cooperate with an out-of-state subpoena, search warrant, arrest warrant, or court order that has not originated in Washington State. AND BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that it is hereby the policy of the City of Bellingham that no employee or agent of the City within the scope of their duties for the City shall assist in the interference with, or investigation or prosecution of, any individual exercising the same rights enjoyed by Washington residents to an abortion or pregnancy outcome, nor any Bellingham provider of such services that are guaranteed to Washington residents by the laws of the State of Washington.

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