This year APIC believes that the following policy priorities will be integral to improving the lives of Asians, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and other communities of color in Washington State:
Unemployment Benefits for Undocumented Workers: Our unemployment system structurally excludes undocumented workers, many of whom pay into the system that funds unemployment insurance. We must address this gap and make sure all workers, regardless of immigration status, are allowed the financial relief they deserve. We ask that the legislature create a permanent, separate unemployment system that provides benefits to undocumented workers, creating a social safety net to help around 150,000 Washington residents and their families.
Health Equity for Immigrants: We must ensure that all Washingtonians are able to access high quality healthcare by a) fully funding a Medicaid-equivalent state program that is open to all residents up to 138% FPL regardless of immigration status and b) improving financial assistance for health plans purchased at Healthplanfinder for all immigrants to 250% FPL to improve affordability. The legislature must pass legislation to codify these programs into state law, and allocate adequate funds to ensure recipients in 2024 are not burdened by health insurance cost sharing.
Increase Funding for Naturalization Services: Naturalization services help refugees and immigrants, predominantly those who are disabled and elderly, attain citizenship through assistance in completing the USCIS N-400 naturalization application and fee waiver requests, classes in American history and civics, and interview preparation. By increasing funding for Naturalization services from $2.546 million in fiscal year 2023 to $3.5 million in 2024 and $4.5 million in 2025, we can better serve immigrants and refugees in our state.
Maintain Funding for LEP Pathways: The Limited English Proficient (LEP) Pathways’ primary goal is to promote economic self-sufficiency for refugees and immigrants through job training, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, work support, and social services. By maintaining funding for the LEP Pathways program at $2,366,000, we can better support low-income and limited English speaking immigrants.
In addition, to our legislative priorities, APIC has always uplifted the need for investment in our community through capital projects. This year, we are asking for support on the following capital projects:
UTOPIA Mapu Maia Clinic: UTOPIA’s Mapu Maia Clinic serves as a trusted, culturally aligned, free health care resource for Pacific Islanders in the LGBTQI community. The Mapu Maia Clinic provides resources for substance use and mental health services, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services. The clinic has served the community since the outbreak of the pandemic and has provided health care needs and services to community members through trusted partnerships and volunteer efforts of health care providers and organizations.
In partnership with other health care providers, the Mapu Maia Clinic currently operates a once-a-month pop-up event to provide some of its health care and support services. We are requesting $700,000 from the Washington State Legislature to enable UTOPIA the physical capability to establish a fully functional drop-in clinic that operates weekly and after-hours to meet the needs of the community members with a diverse range of substance use and mental health related services.
Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC): APCC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community based organization formed in 1996 to bridge communities and generations through arts, culture, education and business. APCC is finalizing its fundraising efforts to build an 18,500 sq ft two story building in Tacoma in place of the old South Park Community Center owned by Metro Parks Tacoma – to include a large event room with a capacity of over 350 people, classrooms, offices, commercial/teaching kitchen, arts gallery, library and gift shop.
APCC is approved and listed on the Governor budget for $1,080,000 under the Commerce Building Community Fund. We are urging the Legislature to support the full approved allocation for APCC for the State Dept of Commerce Building Communities Fund already allotted for APCC. We are also urging the Legislature to please support a legislative ask of $2 million to help APCC with rising costs of construction due to present inflation costs.
Indian American Community Services: The IACS Community Center in Kent will be an inclusive, safe space in the heart of Kents small business district where community can find resources and support services for all age groups while also accessing vocational training, digital literacy, technical assistance for small businesses, free legal and mental health services, early learning and developmental screening along with programming for health and wellness, youth support services, inter-generational activities and opportunities to connect as a community. The center will also participate in the city and county’s culinary network to empower culinary and food delivery business.
IACS has raises 50% of the cost of purchasing the center and is now requesting additional state, county and federal funding for our capital improvements in order to make the space operational. We are requesting $2,000,000 from the state legislature to support this project.
Communities of Concern Commission: The Communities of Concern Commission is a 23-member statewide nonprofit coalition of community-based organizations in communities of color and poor rural communities seeking public investment to build and preserve capital projects in our respective communities to reduce poverty. Member organizations have identified 42 capital projects that, if financed, would build community wealth in their respective communities. We are requesting $500,000 in the operating budget for organization capacity building, technical assistance and Commission operations; and, $1 million in the capital budget for project predevelopment.
The Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI): RAI is seeking $778,000 in capital funding from the State as part of its $4.7 million campaign to remodel a 7500 sq. foot space in Lake City into an urban manufacturing space and art gallery. RAI was founded in 2016 to partner with immigrant and refugee women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the US through training and microbusiness development. Since its inception, RAI has trained and supported 40 refugee and immigrant artisans who left Ethiopia, Burma, Bhutan, Morocco, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and China to start a new life in Washington after escaping discrimination and hardship in their home countries. The artisans are typically mothers, between the ages of 30 – 55 years old, with young children who earn their first paycheck in the US through the support of RAI. Artisans express their culture through sewing and handcrafting work while receiving entrepreneur training and a living wage. The new space will include exhibit space to showcase the incredible talents of our artisans. The campaign launched last year and will run through 2025.
Additional policies and requests we support as part of our Solidarity Agenda:
Guaranteed Basic Income: Create the Evergreen Trust Basic Income Pilot Program that would put cash directly into the hands of vulnerable Washingtonians facing economic instability
$150,000 allocated to IFJC: Invest $150,000 in the International Families Justice Coalition from the Office of Civil and Legal Aid to ensure legal representation for vulnerable immigrants in family law and domestic violence cases.
Working Families Tax Credit: Technical fixes legislation to improve equity and access to the WFTC program and expansion legislation to provide greater benefit to a larger number of households in Washington State by expanding eligibility to all those 18 years of age and older.
Secure Automatic Voter Registration: Washington can improve our Automatic Voter Registration system by moving to a back-end system where citizens will be automatically registered or have their registration updated, also eliminating chances of human error that could result in non-citizens being asked about registering to vote.
Eliminating Advisory Votes: The legislature has the opportunity to remove confusing and non-binding advisory votes from the ballot, making it more accessible to new voters and voters with limited English proficiency, also saving state time, money and admin. Resources.
Support Hepatitis B & C Testing and Hepatitis Vaccinations for All Washington Adults: Legislation is essential to induce Washington primary health care providers to begin offering preventative services care for hepatitis including hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening and vaccination and hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening to all adult patients to the extent the services are covered by the individual patient’s health insurance and with no civil or criminal violation for provider or patient noncompliance. These preventive services are needed to reduce the incidence of liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver cancer and death caused by HBV or HCV, across all communities.
Restrict Access to Assault Weapons: Semi-automatic assault weapons have been used in all five of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history. These weapons were designed for the battlefield—they have no place in our neighborhoods. We are urging the legislature to greatly restrict the sale, transfer, and importing of assualt weapons.