Please seek a presentation from the Public Health Advisory Board on the needs of immigrant families in our community / Letter to the Whatcom County Council, Dena Jensen

letter from Rachel Lucy Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 6.52.07 PM

Screen shot of the 10/25/18 letter from the Public Health Advisory Board to the Whatcom County Health Board proposing the resolution for which PHAB was seeking support from the Whatcom County Council on 11/07/18

November 9, 2018  Dena Jensen
[Note: I wrote a blog post yesterday on November 8, 2018, entitled, “‘I just wanna make sure it’s people who are legal’ – 3 minutes of the Whatcom County Council 11/07/18 Public Works and Health Committee meeting” on which this letter to the Whatcom County Council is based.]

Sent: Friday, November 9, 2018 2:49 PM

Subject: Please seek a presentation from the Public Health Advisory Board on the needs of immigrant families in our community

Dear Whatcom County Council:

I am writing regarding the November 7, 2018 Public Works and Health Committee meeting. I was disappointed and pretty much aghast at the response from Council Members to the request from the Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB) for support from the Council for our immigrant families in Whatcom County. I don’t understand the apparent refusal to be informed by the board of the needs of immigrant community members. It seems to me that perhaps practiced disregard of the suffering of immigrant community members has caused Council Members to not seriously consider the request for support made by the PHAB.

Obviously, in reading the letter from PHAB Chair Rachel Lucy, that request for support focused noticeably on health and safety impacts experienced by community members caused by detentions and deportations of undocumented workers.

Last year Council Member Browne noted that our community suffers negative effects to general physical health, when people without documented U.S. Citizenship are afraid to report illnesses and injuries, which is one of the things the letter from Rachel Lucy brought up. Here is the link to the portion of the June 27, 2017 County Council meeting, where Council Members were discussing such issues:

Also, last year at the same Whatcom County Council meeting, Council Member Brenner had implied that since she is friends with many immigrants in the county and doesn’t ask about their status and doesn’t care about that, and folks are often referred to her and call her, that she would be surprised to learn that members of the community were experiencing any kinds of negative impacts that would result in reluctance to report mistreatment of any kind.

Meanwhile at the Wednesday Public Works meeting Council Member Brenner said that if immigrants are not here legally, she is not in support of them. So, to me this shows how the people who work in our government agencies can, on one hand, view themselves as welcoming and approachable, and on the other hand, can be giving out signals that there are thousands of people in our community who do not have their support and who, therefore cannot rely on leadership, health authorities, and law enforcement not to turn them away, or worse, when they seek assistance. This escalates the climate of fear and intimidation created by increased targeting of immigrants in our country and here in our county, and presents many dangerous challenges to the physical, mental, and economic health of our communities.

I am calling on Council Members to rise above their apparent initial indifference to the PHAB request for Council support and to contact the board to have them make a presentation to the Council based on PHAB outreach to community members and board expertise. Their hard work on this issue, and our friends and neighbors who live in fear of deportation every day – some who don’t have documented citizenship, some who may be their family members, and others who may have legal citizenship but still suffer harassment or intimidation due to government scrutiny of immigrants – definitely deserve more than three minutes of Council committee time.


Dena Jensen

Birch Bay

This letter was sent to these email addresses:

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