The Immigrant Justice Committee (IJC) of the Network for Social Justice celebrates the Winchester Select Board for its approval of a motion to include references to “country of origin” and “immigration status” to the town’s Human Rights Statement.
The IJC submitted the proposed inclusions to the town’s Human Rights Statement for the Select Board’s consideration because it recognized the enormous contributions that immigrants make always, and particularly now, as they represent a large percentage of essential workers during the pandemic. Select Board member Mariano Golobuff introduced the motion for the proposed change at their monthly meeting on May 18th. It was unanimously accepted by the five-member Select Board.
The town’s Human Rights Statement will now read:
Winchester is a community that is grounded in respect for every individual, and therefore protects all residents, employees, business owners, students and visitors in the enjoyment and exercise of human and civil rights. It is town policy to ensure equal treatment and opportunity to all individuals regardless of race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, immigration status, religion, ideology, socio-economic status, health, sexual orientation, age, military status, or disability.
This is a critical time to include these categories. Not only because xenophobic rhetoric and actions directed at those of Asian origin has increased, but also because May is Asian- and Pacific Island-American Heritage Month. According to Phil Coonley and Karen Hirschfeld, co-chairs of the IJC, the additions provide “two more foundational principles upon which to build an even stronger and more inclusive Winchester.”
Winchester’s Human Rights Statement was originally written in 2009 (amended in 2012) with significant input and support from the Network for Social Justice, then known as the Winchester Multicultural Network.