The daughter of Venezuelan family, the son of an Iranian immigrant, and me, the daughter of an American raised abroad. What do these people have in common?
“My mother came to this country as an Iranian citizen, she marched in support of MLK day and was put on watchlists because of her political activism. She used to take me to rallys when I was younger. It feels good to stand up for something meaningful again.” – K. Mahoney
“My parents immigrated from Venezuela to the United States so that my brother & I could live in better conditions than they had to. But now I can only imagine they feel like they’re back in the fear they wanted to escape from.” – B. Alamo
Our parents came to this country to give us a better future, and we all came together here in Seattle to work hard and pursue our dreams. This past weekend we stood in a crowd in solidarity with people like us, people who were descendants of the great immigrants who built this country. It was a cold and damp Seattle winter day, but the crowd was there to protest the newly instated, religiously prejudiced ban against Islamic people entering the United States. We stood in that crowd and listened to Mayor Ed Murray and Governor Jay Inslee stand up for these people and the people they represent, for their right to live and work in this country. We all stood to make our voices heard.
All of us here, with the exception of those who claim Native American heritage, are immigrants.
Seattle was a city built by foreign settlers and has long been defined by its immigrant population. Thirteen Native American tribes lived in the area prior to european settlers arrival, even the city’s name, Seattle, is in honor of the Native American Chief who lived here. Starting in the 19th century, a steady influx of settlers came to the area to seek work chopping or in the lumber mills. Seattle went through several booms (and subsequents busts) over the next two centuries, each time bringing fresh waves of settlers to the region. Modern Seattle is a booming tech capital, and a reflection of this work-hard, work-diverse mentality.
After Trump’s Inauguration on January 21st, an estimated 130,000 people in Seattle participated in the Women’s March, more than double the predicted turnout. They did this to stand in solidarity of what this new administration represents. This past weekend, hundreds took to the airport after the executive order was signed, demanding the release and fair treatment of the six people detained there. On Sunday Jan 29th, thousands of people took to the streets in downtown Seattle to protest Trump’s Immigration Ban.
Regardless of your political views, people around the world can agree that America is facing one of the most politically turbulent times in modern history. We’ve seen the transition from the nation’s first African American president to the an arguably supremacist business owner.
The nation is still coming to grips with this dramatic shift, overnight we’ve seen liberal policies protecting everything from the right to clean water to immigration policies. The globalist world vision we were heading towards has suddenly been turned on its head. While some parts of the nation are celebrating the closing of borders, hoping to focus on some much needed internal infrastructure TLC. Other parts of the nation are aghast about putting “America First“, and what that means for anyone who doesn’t fit into the current POTUS’s (or his top advisers) narrow world view. Part of what makes America great is our tech industry. America has 14 of the top 25 tech companies in the world, and three of those companies have offices located in Seattle.
The tech boom is largely thanks to the start of Microsoft in the 1970’s, it paved the way for Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom and many other large companies which were established here to flourish. Fast forward to 2017 and tech is still going strong, Amazon has recently expanded their campus to accommodate for the 100 thousand new employees they hired in 2016 alone. Other companies like Nintendo, Google, and Facebook have also expanded their workforce and opened offices up here.
Seattle is one of the highest educated cities in the US, and tech companies rely upon this influx of new fresh perspectives and recruit straight out of university. This attracts a lot of international students on F1 visas attending Washington state schools, hoping to land jobs straight out of college. Some of these students have been directly affected by the Immigration Ban, two Iranian students are even suing the Trump administration over having their visas invalidated. Recently the President of the University of Washington has stepped up in defense of international students, and many are hoping that the tech companies who recruit directly from the school will follow suit.
All of this growth requires talent and brainpower, and Seattle has never been a stranger to welcoming any new workers who are willing to work hard. That’s why Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban has forced a lot of major tech companies to step up. Microsoft alone had over 5,000 workers in Seattle under the H1-B visa, and their workers are worried for their future in this country.
Taking all of this into account, it’s no surprise that Seattle has become a largely liberal city. Seattle is a city of hard workers, and hard work is not defined by race, religion, color, or creed.
On Monday, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, filed a federal lawsuit to block the order, and the order went through to federal court. It’s a small victory, but one nonetheless. Seattle is uniquely positioned to hold the new administration accountable for its actions. We’ve got the backing of the tech companies, a large successful international population, a high rate of education and average wealth. As a city of immigrants, built on hard work and the right to improve their future, we need to stand up for each other, and me and my friends are proud to live in a city that does.