WALLA WALLA -- A "Secure Communities" program that leaves people feeling scared was among the findings in the new "State of the State for Washington Latinos" unveiled Thursday.
Along with immigration issues such as Secure Communities, the "state of the state" project also delved into political representation, education, language barriers and poverty. Reports on all five topics, plus other material, is now available online.
The alarm raised by the federal program, which uses fingerprinting in local jails to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation, was reported on by team members Madelyn Peterson, Spencer May and Daniel Merritt. The students were aided by Jazmin Santacruz and Toby Guevin of OneAmerica.
The students reported that in interviews with people in Walla Walla, Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties, they found the program was causing fear in communities and threatening the unity of those communities.
"Immigrants are increasingly afraid to report crimes or become involved in their communities because they suspect they will be arrested and even deported," the researchers said in a press summary.
Whitman College professor Paul Apostolidis said this year's research builds on six years of prior work done by previous student teams. The five teams that worked on the current project spent four months conducting field research to gather and analyze information.
While some findings, such as those about Secure Communities, were alarming, other discoveries were uplifting, Apostolidis said.
In their report on English language learners, researchers Emily Basham, Adam Delgado and Cynthia Ramos-Orozco found many positive results reported at Blue Ridge Elementary School, Garrison Middle School and Walla Walla High School.
Among their discoveries, the researchers said the district's dual language program "is seen by the majority of (English language learner) students, parents and school staff as the ideal ESL instruction program for the district."
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.
Read the reports
The State of the State for Washington Latinos: www.walatinos.org