Sanctuary DC 2018 Candidate Forum

On May 5th the #SanctuaryDC Candidate Forum took place at All Souls Church, along with our co-sponsoring organizations: All Souls Church, ACLU-DC, Asian Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, Cameroon American Council, CARECEN, CentroNia, Ethiopian Community Center, Family Values At Work, Justice for Muslims Collective, Latin American Youth Center, ONE DC, Peacebuilding Connections, Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-DC, SanctuaryDMV, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, and the National TPS Alliance.

On May 5th the #SanctuaryDC Candidate Forum took place at All Souls Church, along with our co-sponsoring organizations: All Souls Church, ACLU-DC, Asian Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, Cameroon American Council, CARECEN, CentroNia, Ethiopian Community Center, Family Values At Work, Justice for Muslims Collective, Latin American Youth Center, ONE DC, Peacebuilding Connections, Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-DC, SanctuaryDMV, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, and the National TPS Alliance.

Approximately 150 members of the local community attended, and were supported through the provision of simultaneous interpretation services in Spanish, French, Amharic and English, through SmarTrip metro cards if they faced financial difficulty in travel home, childcare, and a special prayer space for Muslim community members.  In addition, prior to the formal Forum beginning, a reception was held in the garden for community members, members of the press, and candidates alike, in which a diverse array of food was enjoyed, including dishes from local Latin American, West African and Ethiopian caterers.  

The Forum was moderated by Armando Trull, a local reporter specializing in immigrant issues who formally worked with WAMU and National Public Radio.  Armando presented prepared questions submitted by the co-sponsoring organizations, and also invited community members to the microphone for each of 3 panels to ask questions of the candidates.  These questions focused primarily on police brutality, housing displacement, labor injustice, language access, education, and the protections that local legislators can provide to TPS recipients and unaccompanied immigrant minors.  Community members as well as the moderator raised significant concern about the lack of priority demonstrated by little funding for initiatives in these areas. One candidate stated, "So. DC Council came up with a billion dollars for Amazon. The government publicly subsidizes luxury condos. What about immigrants? We need to prioritize the people." Candidates Ann Goodwin, Wilcox, Lowery, and Lazere stated their support to fund college tuition subsidies (DCTAG) for undocumented DC students to attend college out of state.

Below you will find the notes of the questions that were posed to each of the candidates during the Forum, along with their responses and videos of the first and last panel:

Panel 1 - Candidates for Ward 1:   Kent Boese, Brianne Nadeau, Lori Parker, Sheika Reid

Question: While DC doesn’t have sanctuary policy like other jurisdictions, there are pending bills that could help make DC a true sanctuary. Votes for non citizens. Permanent immigrant resources fund. Remove indication on DC Licenses. What is your plan to implement a sanctuary policy?

Kent Boese - supports all these programs and financing public legal representation.
Serving in Columbia Heights. Commission taking positive stance on voting for non-citizens. Stronger when all voices are heard.

Brianne Nadeau – supports voting access and driver’s licenses for non-citizens
Congress is reason we don’t have comprehensive bill. Working around congress. Co-introduced voting, driver licenses, and health care access. Passed and funded legislation for mental health study for immigrant communities

Lori Parker – supports programs beyond education and language access, for access to public funds for legal representation
support all pieces of legislation mentioned and would like to add housing legislation as well to address housing problems in the District. All immigrants in our community have representation.

Sheika Reid – advocates for legislation with adequate funding
advocate for the legislation proposed and make sure it is well funded. Access to English as a second language services. Issues on dealing with the city when English is a second language.

Question: Protecting TPS holders is becoming more challenging under current administration. As TPS holders lose their status what can the city do to protect TPS holders?

Kent Boese – should have access to legal services, there is a need for advocacy
gets to access of legal services. Not enough to just have a fund - should provide free legal services. Free representation is not provided to immigrant communities despite needing it just as much - if not more - than citizens.


Brianne Nadeau – At least $2 million for a legal fund and KYR seminars
supported DREAM Act locally. Legal services fund - issue is where the money is. My bill will move the money for legal services fund to Legal Defense Fund to serve more people. Know your rights seminars. Everyone knows their rights.


Lori Parker – for funding
we don’t have time to wait to raise the money. $2 million to fund representation bill. As a city we need to find those funds. Treat immigrant communities as a priority in finding this money.


Sheika Reid – $2 million is not enough
$2 million is not enough. We have the responsibility to protect our immigrant communities.

Question: Police presence in schools and fear in sharing in
How will you hold MPD accountable in sharing information with ICE?
Are you willing to demand ICE be removed as a federal agency in DC?


Kent Boese –  for oversight, regular reports, and dismissal of violators. Get ICE off of federal property in DC
Under directive to not share information. Requires oversight. Be engaged with leadership requiring reports and dismissal of violators. I don’t want ICE in this city and

Brianne Nadeau – supports disbanding ICE
Chief of Police reaffirmed not cooperating with ICE. Legislation condemning ICE raids. I would support dismantling ICE as a whole. I work with community organizations that protect immigrant communities.

Lori Parker -  supports collaboration with local officials, not federal law enforcement
Former judge I have experience working with law enforcement. Well aware of what can be done to assist to cooperate with local officials without working with law enforcement. Maintain commitment to not work with ICE. Lack of statehood - hard to accomplish dismantling ICE.

Sheika Reid – calls for ICE’s hands off DC, supports MPD not being in contact with  ICE
Making sure ICE keeps hands off DC - I would make sure that we use the full force of the law to make sure MPD doesn’t work with ICE. Community organizations informing neighbors of their rights. Working together as a community to protect.


Question (by community member): A (minority) friend of mine was harassed by the police for eating in the Metro she was treated very badly by the police. What are you going to do about police harassment?


Kent Boese – too many independent police departments/unacceptable treatement
we have too many police agencies that work separately from each other. We need to find the leverage to provide a uniform standard of service between these entities. Unacceptable and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

Nadeau – support for NEAR Act. Calls for increased accountability of police force and intervention s for criminal activity
clear overuse of force. Support of NEAR Act. Beginning stages of implementing. INcreased accountability of police force. Public health approach to public safety and policing. Intended to heal community - not more cops on the street. Implementation needs to be right.

Lori Parker – Supports NEAR Act
in addition to support NEAR Act, fully funding this act. Need for language access when these issues arise.

Sheika Reid – Calls for a complete evaluation of the police force and better training for police
too many neighbors who live with fear of the police. Comprehensive evaluation of over use of force. Better training for police officers. Translation services within the MPD and in my office.


Question (by community member): What’s going to happen to the day laborers there are 5 countries that are about to be deported in a few months. TPS. When their licenses expire they don’t get their work permits. They cannot work and may lose housing.


Kent Boese – legal parameters (didn’t answer question)
actions like this destroy communities. Build on immigration. A lot that we need to be focusing on. More noise.

Brianne Nadeau -  supporting organizations that work with TPS
if you call my office we can speak about this issue. Support work for day laborers. We don’t have all the answers yet for those who have TPS. I commit to trying to figure it out. Ward 1 has largest immigrant population in the city - im committed to them.

Lori Parker – lack of constituent services is a problem
legal representation are likely to succeed. We need this to support TPS communities. Constitute services and supporting neighbors on a broad rage of needs. Raised $200k for her election campaign

Sheika Reid – (not straight answer to question)
talking to business owners, lack of engagement. Immigrants are hired by small businesses in Ward 1. Important to foster sense of community. Create environment where TPS folks know they are protected.


Question: Immigrant communities lack information and funds - how are you going to help small businesses to create more jobs.


Kent Boese – tax credit for local businesses to hire locals
focused on small businesses. Small businesses provide the support for our community. Legislation often comes in the negatively affects small businesses. $5k tax credit to hire DC residents - jobs actually go to people who live here. Information gets out to community.

Brianne Nadeau – small business support agencies, financial support, increased rental assistance and utility funds
I’ve created main street programs to support businesses in Ward 1. Provide technical assistance, grants, so they can get resources they need. Constituent services fund can find resources needed without creating slush fund that can be abused. Created a fund for legal services and various other programs without a slush fund.

Lori Parker – fully transparent constituent fund
small businesses are drivers in our economy. Tax incentives and credits to help support. Constituent service funds - as long as it is allowed and transparent it is not up for abuse. It is actually abuse to take money from developers to fund your (Nadeau’s) campaign.

Sheika Reid – supporting small businesses because they hire people who don’t get hired anywhere else
homeless community is rising. Non-profit groups are drying up. These programs service people in need. We need to support small businesses because they employ people who are overlooked by large companies. Support our own community.


Question (by community member): I am an immigrant, I'm indigenous. Homeless community. A lot of times people are in this situation. Speaks with many organizations but what’s actually is Nadeau passed a law that homeless people have to show their ID. In that time, Home Depot workers had to show their licenses. Nadeau, why did you introduce this law? What would you do to help our community with little resources.


Brianne Nadeau - provisions created and resources should be used for DC
support our homeless community. Millions of dollars put to create housing for the homeless. Updated the law and created provisions that immigrants will not be unduly burdened. We need to prove residency to make sure $ stays. Many other ways to access homelessness services. By participating in other services.

Kent Boese – supports investing more in housing, should support homeless people regardless of where they are from
I don’t care where people are from, they need access to shelter. Nadeau’s legislation, MD and VA residents benefits. This legislation is disgusting.

Lori Parker - I would have voted against this. This isn’t children or family first. Homeless facility located on the same grounds as a well used youth development services. Devalued land by millions of dollars.

Sheika Reid – having to prove residency is not fair for allocation of resources/ “we need to stop fearing what we don’t know about”
land she’s talking about is for Whole Foods. Homeless population is diverse and has different needs. To have to navigate a system to get an ID is not accessible and not realistic if we expect them to access these resources.

Nadeau – response:
serve people in need. I have put hundreds of millions of dollars to homelessness services. I’m helping build short-term shelter. I look forward to continue this work.



Panel 2 - Candidates for Ward 5 and 6: Gayle Hall Carley, Bradley Thomas, Lisa Hunter

Question: While DC doesn’t have sanctuary policy like other jurisdictions, there are pending bills that could help make DC a true sanctuary. Votes for non citizens. Permanent immigrant resources fund. Remove indication on DC Licenses. What is your plan to implement a sanctuary policy?


GHC: supports
Support the bills, currently working in field as an outreach coordinator and going to t shelters and searches for ppl being homeless and with mental health issues, I would support these bills and hope we come together to help this populations

BT: residents should have a vote, more funding for UDC
“Happy Cinco de Mayo by the way”, UDC issues recently published a video piece supporting funding for UDC, it is grossly underfunded and we need to fund it accuratley, we need to ensure that immigrants can attend on instate tuition

LH: comprehensive solution to sanctuary city, language access focus
Support comprehensive solution to sanctuary city. Focused on language access difficulty

Question: Police presence in schools and fear in sharing in
How will you hold MPD accountable in sharing information with ICE?
Are you willing to demand ICE be removed as a federal agency in DC?



GHC: policy that prevents shared info

BT: accountability from top-down, called ICE “the gestapo”

LH: abolish ICE, not for sharing info, hold MPD accountable


Question: Protecting TPS holders is becoming more challenging under current administration. As TPS holders lose their status what can the city do to protect TPS holders?

GHC: ensure people aren’t losing their housing

BT: no statehood so enact legislation that would protect TPS, wants a place in Congress

LH: going after notario fraud, more KYR seminars, dedicated legal services public fund


Question: Language access. Important to provide - funding was cut for ESL services. What is going to be done?


GHC – supports increased funding for education
I work with shelters in Ward 5. We do not have enough people who are bilingual. I would support adult education. Ensure that fund is replenished.

BT – budget prioritization
budget prioritization. Fund the budget so the ESL programs can exist.

LH – DC council will reinstate tax cuts from the wealthy to pay for social services
DC council cut taxes for the wealthy. They lowered the corporate tax rate. I would increase these tax rates to ensure there is enough money in the budget for social services.


Panel 3 - At-large, chair of city DC Council + Mayor of DC
Jeremiah Lowery, Ed Lazere, Marcus Goodwin Phil Mendelson, Ann Wilcox


Questions: While DC doesn’t have sanctuary policy like other jurisdictions, there are pending bills that could help make DC a true sanctuary. Votes for non citizens. Permanent immigrant resources fund. Remove indication on DC Licenses. What is your plan to implement a sanctuary policy?


Lowery – supports initiatives and has done so for the past 10 years
I support all these initiatives. Only candidate running who attended rallies and protests to support these initiatives.

Wilcox – supports initiatives and filming ICE in action
DC statehood Green Party. I support all these initiatives. DC was a sanctuary city during Mayor Gray. Support MPD not working with ICE. Worked as an attorney to help film cops and ICE officers.

Lazere – advocates and supports theright to vote and increased legal services
chair of DC council. Last 20 years worked on economic, racial, language access bill, access to health care. Support everything we can to make residents feel welcome and safe. Immigrants the right to vote. Legal representation for immigrants.

Goodwin – people should feel safe and secure (no answer)
DC and Ward 1 native. Uncle arrested by ICE agents. Firmly committed to ensuring DC is a sanctuary city.

Mendelson – supports removing mark on driver’s licenses, says problem is the federal government
only incumbent here. UDC and tuition rates. We passed legislation last year to address this issue. I would like to remove mark from driver’s license. 2 licenses to get around federal law. This is the first time I’m hearing that this legislation is not being enforced.


Question: What will you do to address different budgets between different groups? Equal to immigrant communities?


Lowery – invest money into people
priorities. DC council isn’t prioritizing immigrants or people. Can come up with $1m for Amazon. Invest in people not corporations.

Wilcox – needs to be dunded adequately
budgets are based on population size. Compliance in language legislation. These groups need to be funded adequately.

Lazere - priorities
advocate focused on the city’s budget. Talk of support but with no resources behind it. When there is a will there's a way. Matter of priorities.

Goodwin – answered in french
shame in disproportion of budget sizes. Washington needs to be an example of how to fight back against the current administration.

Mendelson – more participation and access to legislatures and hearings
not equal but equitable. Communities need different amount of support. African Affairs budget will increase with current budget. We got input from oversight committee.


Question: How will you communicate and make sure voices are heard from various immigrant communities?


Lowery - only candidate who’s been on the front lines. Candidates spend more time in the boardroom than with the community. I will continue to be an organizer in my community.

Wilcox - language access act requires a plan from the agency make sure they’re doing the job.

Lazere - to be at the table with others. Be respectful and listen to various communities. Be responsive.

Goodwin - I grew up living in DC. Find solutions for work here.

Mendelson - diversity makes our city more interesting. We celebrate and value diversity. We want to keep and enrich it. I’ve slowed down the process - for access to their legislators. Having hearings that are accessible to the public.


Question: CVE are being implemented and focused on communities of color. What will you do to make sure these policies do not happen in DC?


Lowery – will fight back, accountability of MPD
organizations in DC already do this work. No candidates who have rallied or submitted testimony. I have. Accountability of police in DC. Eliminate ICE in DC.

Wilcox – support, new training program for MPD, sue DOJ if they are out of line
lawyers guild and ACLU. Disturbing that these communities are being targeted when there are KKK groups. Sue the DOJ if they are out of line.

Lazere – oversight and clear values, not cooperate with a federal organization if we do not agree, showing up when needed
oversight and clear values. We will not adhere with federal policies we disagree with. Stand with community on protection.

Goodwin – cultural competency, local offices don’t comply with federal organizations
we need to train police officers. Lack of cultural competence in DC. Local officers not to comply with federal agenda.

Mendelson – increase community policing
community policing. Building positive relationship with communities. I made the DC Attorney General electable. Prohib elected officials from cooperating with ICE.


Question: Police Chief broke the law by not collecting demographic information on people stopped and frisked in DC.


Lowery – Police Chief needs to be fired.

Wilcox – supports NEAR Act
this violates everything important about being a sanctuary city. Adherence with NEAR Act requires some data collected.

Lazere – supports NEAR act, need public health approach, fireable offense
NEAR Act perfect example of public health approach to public safety. Not implemented by the Mayor. Use of force by MPD is going up. Multiple areas of NEAR Act that are not being implemented. It is a fireable offense if they are not doing enough.

Goodwin – supports NEAR Act
we should understand the behavior of our police officers and what communities are being negatively affected. Require all MPD to get this information. Support funding and implementation of the NEAR Act to create smart policing.

Mendelson – supports NEAR Act
we are going to address this issue. NEAR Act is meant to emphasize alternative strategies to public safety. The mayor sometimes ignores our laws. Cointroducer of NEAR Act.


Question: Many unaccompanied minors coming to DC. DC does not have enough resources to support these children. What would you do to support programs to help unaccompanied minors?


Lowery – collaborate with immigrant rights groups, more funding
mother is formerly homeless. Working collaboratively with immigrant rights groups. Fighting over funding instead of prioritizing people of DC. Running against developers.

Wilcox – support organizations like CARECEN and LAYC
assigned to family members or foster homes. We need to support legal work and groups working to support these communities.

Lazere – plan to end homelessness
role of government is to protect vulnerable communities. Full implement the city’s plan to end homelessness. There is a plan but has not been acted on.

Goodwin – provide economic opportunity and mobility
being born to the wrong parents. My platform is focused on economic opportunity and education to vulnerable communities. My family has experienced this.

Mendelson – federal government to blame, don’t leave people out, aggressive in identifying kids in schools to provide resources
Federal government is messed up on immigration issues comes down to the cities. DC is a leader as a sanctuary city. Aggressive in our schools to identify struggling kids.


Question: We have to help parents who do not speak english. Education is the key to getting forward. We have to make sure this happens. Language access. We don’t come here because we want to but because we have to.


Lowery - pass language access bill that’s in the council right now. We need resources for ESL parents. Other candidates have not showed up over the past 10 years. I will continue fighting.

Wilcox - more adult education.

Lazere - language access bill not being enacted by the council. Agencies are not complying. Mendelson is not moving on it.

Goodwin - Grew up in Columbia Heights but ESL parents. Ensuring that we fund and support tutoring program in our schools. A lot of our teachers spend time getting kids up to grade level.

Mendelson - language access bill I was a co-author. This legislation will move this year. $15m fiscal impact which is why this is taking so long.


Question (by community member): Lazere has a new requirement for all legislations that they need a racial justice lense. Not just look at money but social impact. Mendelson has never had this idea. Why have you not had this idea?


Mendelson - racial equity is undeniably important. Current council members attended an all day workshop to learn about these issues. Issues across the board.

Lowery - Safe Schools DC member. I have already put this lense on the work that I do. Every piece of legislation should be introduced through a racial justice lense.

Wilcox - Trump era shows lack of progress. MPD is getting training in racial justice lense. Look very closely in biases in education

Lazere - city’s gentrification is making racial inequities worse. Every piece of legislation should have a racial equity lense. Stopped suspensions in schools.


Goodwin - my campaign focuses on housing affordability. I see all sides of the city.

Question (by community member): How would Marcus Goodwin control development as a developer?


Goodwin - We’ve seen a lot of displacement. Creating community benefits agreement. That sets expectations.

Lowery - other candidates are being funded by the developers. Rent control bill is being held up in council right now. Higher percentage of affordable housing. End pay to play.

Wilcox - Mayor who is friendly to developers. Too many subsidies. We need to enforce inclusionary zoning and hold developers accountable.

Lazere - stop developer subsidies that we know is gentrifying. Find opportunities for people to buy homes. DC has opportunity to buy property to protect it from developers. More resources to affordability.


Question (by community member): Do you support DC Tag accessibility to in-state tuition? Difference in funding between Asian American, Latino, and African Affairs budgets.


Lowery - my family has benefited from this program. Support extending this benefit to undocumented students. Equitable funding.

Lazere - the city needs to fill in when there is federal failures. Eager to make sure we supporting all of our communities equally.

Wilcox - we need to have the correct amounts for the budgets. All communities are being served equitably. We need to support the tag program - we can do more on the local level.

Lowery - I support DC tag and fight hard to find funding. Amazon and big developers get funding but we are fighting amongst each other. We need to focus on the top.