Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Washington State Labor Council Launches First-of-Its-Kind Naturalization Legal Aid Program

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) is launching a program to offer legal aid to permanent residents seeking naturalization. The program will prioritize union members, helping members obtain the resources and legal aid needed to become citizens. In places like Yakima, permanent residents in the state who work in agriculture often are denied access to the political process, preventing them from using their voices to effectively advocate for safety and better work conditions.

“What we’ve seen in Yakima County is that you have ranchers that have the capital power to do things like union-busting, or lobby and spend money on trying to create policies that are anti-labor,” said Dulce Gutiérrez (OPEIU), an organizer with WSLC. “With a largely immigrant workforce, it’s difficult, sometimes impossible, for working people to advocate for themselves and their families.”

The new program will help permanent residents navigate the process for naturalization and help them register to vote, so they have a voice in choosing the elected officials who make policies that directly affect their lives.