NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — Several community organizations banded together on April 17 to demand the resignation or removal of Pat Kohler as director of the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) joined the Latino Civic Alliance for the downtown Seattle protest — one of eight across the state.
“For years, DOL Director Pat Kohler failed to protect the privacy and personal data of Washington state residents and put thousands at risk of losing their families, homes, and communities,” said Diane Narasaki, ACRS’ executive director. “We ask the governor to remove her immediately and replace her with leadership which will ensure DOL compliance with his executive order and respect for the privacy and dignity of all Washington state residents.”
Picketers also gathered in Everett, Lacey, White Center, Moses Lake, Yakima, Vancouver, and Bellingham.
In January, the Seattle Times reported that the DOL had been giving residents’ personal information to federal officials as many as 20 to 30 times per month. This went directly against Gov. Jay Inslee’s February 2017 executive order that Washington remains a state that would not use state employees as federal immigration agents.
Tony Lee, co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Washington State, said APIC “is deeply concerned” about DOL’s failure to follow the executive order.
“This failure has put many thousands of hard working Washington residents, who contribute to our state and economy, at risk of being ripped from their families and homes and deported.”
Joseph Lachman, the Seattle JACL president, hopes that this week’s demonstrations will lead to the process of rebuilding trust between local communities and the government.
The board chair of the Latino Civic Alliance, Nina Martinez, said, “We are prepared to support a new director that has strong leadership abilities, vision to change the culture at DOL, and restore credibility. We are asking that a new commission be created that will provide oversight to the DOL.”
Other organizations supporting Kohler’s removal are Community to Community, Washington State Labor Council, El Centro de la Raza, Washington State LULAC, GC Reforms, Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute, the Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color, Casa Latina, Seattle Indivisible, One America, Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee, APACE & APACE Votes, 21 Progress, and Filipino Community of Seattle.