The March 6 editorial on the continuing budget debate in Olympia misses a key program slated to be eliminated in the Senate supplemental budget, rammed through late at night without the opportunity for public comment. The program is State Food Assistance, a food stamp look-alike program created in 1997 by Washington’s Legislature to provide food assistance to legal, documented immigrants. These immigrants include families from the Marshall Islands, described in Sunday’s front page article as a growing community in Spokane with strong family and cultural values.
Denying the Marshallese access to food assistance when they are obeying the rules set by the United States in the “compact of free association” we signed as an acknowledgement of the environmental and human cost of nuclear testing in the 1940s and 1950s would add another sad chapter to U.S.-Marshall Islands relations.
The values held by our governor and Legislature in 1997 – that immigrants played a positive and significant role in our state’s economy and in the vibrancy of our people – were the right values then, and they are the right values now. I strongly urge the Washington Legislature to uphold these values now.