As the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration increases, police around the country are having a harder time reassuring their undocumented population that they won’t be acting as defacto ICE agents. In some parts of the country, undocumented residents are refusing to report crimes out of fear they will be questioned about their immigration status. This lack of reporting can contribute to a rise in criminal activity, as witnesses and victims are less likely to help police locate perpetrators or provide testimony. To prevent this from happening in Bellevue, Washington (a suburb of Seattle), the police department released a video reassuring citizens that police officers would not cooperate with an immigration officer in any way that could threaten the safety or freedom of its law-abiding citizens, undocumented or otherwise.
There are two conditions citizens of Bellevue need to know, however.
If someone is arrested, a police officer could inquire about a person’s immigration status. Secondly, when an undocumented criminal is arrested for a serious crime, immigration could be contacted to have that person removed if they are a threat to the public safety. In the video, Corporal Antonio Romero explains that this condition would not apply to anyone arrested for a minor crime or even a traffic violation.
Maria Blancas grew up the child of farmworkers and saw the impacts of their work in real-time. She even worked on farms when she was in high school picking apples and onion seeds. It wasn’t until she got to college that she realized how little people truly understood about her community and their lives. So, she dedicated her studies to the lives and conditions of farmworkers and it paid off.
Maria Blancas is a Ph.D student at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.
Blancas grew up with migrant farmworker parents from Mexico. She helped on the farms and watched as the other farmworkers dealt with the physical nature of the job. However, in her undergraduate years, according to The Seattle Times, Blancas realized people had oversimplified the lives and struggles of the people she was working with.
Blancas has dedicated her education to improve the lives of her family and all others working in the fields.
According to The Seattle Times, Blancas wants to change the narrative around what is happening to the farmworkers’ community. Her aim is to create a fuller and more in-depth picture of the lives and “issues” within the community as the work in the fields.
Her work so far won her a $100,000 prize from the Bullitt Foundation to focus on furthering her work.
The Bullitt Foundation aims to “safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest,” according to the website.
In that effort, the foundation is giving Blancas a significant grant to allow her to focus on her work.
“When people ask me why I do the work that I do,” Blancas told The Seattle Times. “I always think about my family: mi familia.”
The Bullitt Prize is different than most awards and prizes.
Bullitt Foundation President Denis Hayes told The Seattle Times that the prize a “reverse Nobel Peace Prize” in that it doesn’t reward people on their overall work. Instead, the foundation looks for people with potential and awards them at the early stages of their careers based on where their work could go.
Blancas has already done work within her community by surveying the community during her time working at the local community college.
The Seattle Times reports that Blancas noticed that some people would go to her community and conduct studies of the workers. However, the groups would leave and never share the results. So, Blancas teamed up with other researchers and did a survey of 350 farmworkers from Whatcom and Skagit to see what was happening, who they were, and what they needed.
The team discovered that “40 percent of the workers identified as indigenous peoples, mostly from Mexico, and about a quarter couldn’t read Spanish. Its findings, in keeping with academic conventions, quantified problems: 40 percent said they didn’t always have regular breaks, 20 percent lacked consistent access to water, and 60 percent hadn’t seen a doctor in the past year.”
Blancas is planning a dissertation that will incorporate video of farmworker testimonials.
Blancas will be hosting a workshop to teach farmworkers how to create the videos for the dissertation.
There are countless of taco shops in the United States, which means most try to stand out from each other. Whether it’s a cheesy gimmick or cool name, it comes with the territory of operating a taco restaurant. For Tacobook, a small taco business in Everett, Washington, their name and brand inspiration came from one social media network that you may have heard of, Facebook.
Yes, that Facebook. Everything from the name, it’s blue color, lowercase font and logo bared a striking similarity to the social media giant. But three years after Tacobook opened it’s doors, Facebook finally came knocking and told the mom-and-pop restaurant that is must rebrand or face legal trouble.
Back in April, Tacobook received a legal notice from a Beverly Hills law firm citing the business for “unauthorized use of Facebook intellectual property.”
Rigoberto Bastida, 40 and his wife, Deisy Ramos, 31, both spent years saving up money to finally open up Tacobook. It was a dream come true and the restaurant quickly became a favorite among locals and college students for its authenticity and great prices. In the three years since it opened, Tacobook grew from five tables to 10.
Archie Catindig is such a huge fan of the tacos that he makes the 25-minute drive from Lake Stevens to Everett every weekend just to get some tacos.
“Oh, man, just the tenderness of the meat,” Catindig told local newspaper The Herald. “Especially the prices. You can’t beat the price and you can’t beat the tacos.”
In April, just as business was doing well, came a letter from a law firm claiming that Bastida had unauthorized use of Facebook’s intellectual property. “Facebook must take steps to protect consumers from confusion and prevent dilution of the Facebook Marks and brand,” the letter read.
At first, he didn’t even think the letter was real and considered it a scam. But when he asked a customer with legal experience to take a look at it, Bastida realized this could mean big trouble.
He quickly responded amidst fears that his business could face severe legal trouble. “I said, ‘I didn’t do this with a bad intention,’” he said he told the law firm. “I never thought you’d be offended by it.”
Bastida says there was never any intent to copy or profit off of the Facebook name, rather he just wanted a store name that customers could say in other languages and could be easily recognized.
“A simple name that everybody can read and remember,” Bastida told The Herald. “I got a lot of reviews and comments. A lot of people take pictures. They take their selfies with the logos.”
Tacobook would have to quickly rebrand itself to dissociate itself from Facebook.
Bastida and Ramos quickly had to change everything about their restaurant. From restaurant sign in front to the menu board inside, he removed everything blue that could be associated with Facebook.
This also meant that Bastida has to dispose of the new restaurant gear that arrived just a week before he received the letter. He said that he had ordered shirts, hats and new menus that included the original Tacobook logo that had the blue-and-red color scheme on it.
“I spent good money doing the remodel. I tried to do it as fast as I could, and my budget let me,” he told The Herald. “I didn’t want to take the chance they’d get mad at me.”
Then came the big task of changing the restaurant’s name. Customers sent him some recommendations like “Taco-holic” and “TacoPolice” but none of them stuck. Nonetheless, with the law firm’s permission, Tacobook was allowed to keep its name if it included a hyphen, which in return, saved Bastida money from having to redo pricey business paperwork.
Today, TACO-BOOK has a new logo and design. Gone are the blue and the thumbs-up that had previously hung up. A neon red and black taco is now what customers see when entering the restaurant.
For Bastida, he’s just happy that the colors are the only thing he had to change. According to customers, the food still tastes great and the service is always five stars.
“I’m glad they let me keep the name,” Bastida said. “A lot of people said, ‘I don’t care what your name is. As long as you’re doing your food, I’ll still be here.”