Advocacy Matters

On Friday, January 30, we held a ribbon cutting for the new Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity. About 175 people attended and heard from YW leaders about various initiatives happening. Diane Wilson, YW Board member and Chair of the Board Advocacy Committee, gave an update about the YW’s policy initiatives and advocacy work. This is her report:

“The Advocacy Committee was approved by the YWCA board in April 2013. Its purpose is to support the mission of the YWCA to eliminate racism and empower women by identifying issues, gathering information, developing policies and facilitating action to bring about social change.  The committee studies issues appropriate to our local YWCA, our membership and nationally adopted YWCA positions and advocates when necessary. We distribute information,  recommend actions, send letters to government officials, testify at hearings and visit local officials about issues related to our mission.The chair is a board member, and members include board and non- board members.

Our actions have included the YWCA Tucson support of Medicaid Expansion in Arizona to benefit low income women and children; freedom to marry efforts in Arizona; immigration reform efforts to make family reunification a top priority; providing workshops in gender issues, and educating the community about the impact of mass incarceration.  All of these issues are ones that the national YWCA is addressing.

We have sent letters to President Obama and officials in the Department of Homeland Security in behalf of Rosa Robles Loreto and Francisco Perez Cordova who have been in Sanctuary in two different churches. We supported a stay in their deportation orders since they fit into the category of low priority that President Obama has recently named in his Executive Order of November 2014 and allows their reunification with their families. This action fits with the YWCA Tucson Immigration Reform Policy that states “The YWCA supports immigration reform that includes a legal path to citizenship, makes family reunification a top priority, includes a system to allow those known as Dreamers an expedited process for citizenship application and protects the rights and working conditions of all workers”.

We testified at the Tucson City Council in support of agreements that would disallow Tucson Police Department Officers Resource Officers in TUSD to question students about their legal status. The City Council agreed with our recommendation.

The YWCA Tucson recently became a co-sponsor of Keeping Tucson Legal Clinic training forums assisting individuals to complete two important government documents. These are the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for children who have entered the US prior to age 16 and want to stay here; and Deferred Action Parental Accountability (DAPA) for adults who have been present in the US before January 1, 2010 and have children who are US citizens.  The legal clinic currently has ten non-profit sponsors, including three churches.

The committee has sponsored two gender equity workshops by Tim Wernette on Raising Our Sons and Keeping our Daughters Safe.

We have held one forum on Immigration Reform and one on Prison History and Policy. Three more forums on Mass Incarceration and the impact on our community are scheduled for 2015. The topics and dates are: April 29, Women and People of Color in Prisons; September 23, Private Prisons and Immigration Issues; and November 18, Re-Entry and Re-Integration of Prisoners.

The committee is recommending increasing our voter registration opportunities for participants. We have had voter registration available in our computer lab with our former YWorks program and we are continuing it in our Mi Carrera program.

Our Board members are: Janet Grace, Tim Wernette, Tanisha Price-Johnson, Laura Dent and Diane Wilson who are all board members. Community members are Jessie Baxter, Outreach Manager from Representative Grivalva’s office, Alice Berry and Amber Miller who are students from University High School and Violeta Lazo, a graduate of YWCA Mi Carrera. Liane Hernandez serves as YWCA staff member.”

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