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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

UW union workers push for immigrant sanctuary

UW unions call for stronger campus protections for immigrants.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
UW unions call for stronger campus protections for immigrants.

Several unions at the University of Washington are calling for stronger protections for immigrants and minority groups. It’s part of a so-called sanctuary movement on campuses across the country following the presidential election. 


Altogether, the unions represent about 15,000 at the University of Washington and the attached hospitals.

Paula Lukaszek’s union includes custodians, food service workers and hospital support staff. She said about half the members are immigrants, and they want a clear message from UW leadership.

Lukaszek: “That they’re not going to be harassed. No one’s going to come in and ask for their ID. And people aren’t going to have to prove who they are.”

Since the election, UW President Ana Mari Cauce has reiterated strong support for immigrants and other vulnerable groups.

But the unions are pushing a more detailed plan to make the UW a sanctuary campus. It lists seven ways the school can protect people who may face discrimination or may not have legal status in the U.S.

Number one: Don’t share student or staff identification with federal immigration agents, and create a data retention and destruction policy. Another: Don’t allow immigration agents on UW property and provide training on campus for this possible situation.

Union leader Tom Small,  said his group is politically divided. But they back this sanctuary plan as a way to support everyone at UW and hold the school accountable.

Small: "We want the university to understand that the unions will remain here to be the conscience of the university as we move forward in this new administration. The times are interesting, the times are strange."

Only ahandful of campuses across the country have adopted the "sanctuary" label. University of Washington is not one.

Year started with KUOW: 2006