Vashon Island: A Model of Commitment and Support to Immigrants

On the occasion of the multiple and constant messages from the federal administration targeting and threatening immigrant people, particularly from Latin America, the community on Vashon Island has joined forces and directed its efforts to effectively protect its immigrant residents. To achieve this, the community has been educated on how to better serve immigrant members and has sought ways to protect them from immigration enforcement actions. For these purposes, the community of Vashon has been working closely with El Centro de la Raza.        

In October 2019, Vashon Youth and Family Services invited ECDLR to lead a Know Your Rights workshop for Latin immigrant families on their rights in the event that they have to interact with immigration agents. American citizens interested in contributing to building a safer and welcoming space for their immigrant neighbors also attended the workshop.

After the workshop, several representatives from educational institutions, healthcare centers and places of worship on the island expressed their interest in joining ECDLR’s initiative on sensitive locations. Sensitive locations are places where immigration agents have restricted access. ECDLR has been promoting sensitive locations through outreach that includes training sessions, educational materials and the use of a common symbol (created by ECDLR to aid in the identification of sensitive locations). ECDLR hosted an information session on sensitive locations on the island and diverse institutions have implemented the symbol by placing banners provided by ECDLR at no cost on their front doors. Chautauqua Elementary School, McMurray Middle School, Vashon Youth & Family Services and Havurah Ee Shalom are some of the institutions on the island that have implemented the symbol.

Vashon Island is a clear example of how communities can organize and join efforts to create welcoming and safe environments for immigrants and of how together we can explore ways to ensure the protection and effective exercise of their rights. ECDLR is committed in support of these efforts and will keep working closely with Vashon residents to help them continue to build and strengthen their response to immigrant people on the island.

Were you driven by this story? Would you like to host a Know Your Rights workshop or an information session on sensitive locations in your community? For further information on this topic and ideas on how to help, serve and welcome immigrants please contact Adriana Ortiz (Sensitive Locations Project Coordinator) at or (206) 519 4425.