NWIRP Receives William O. Douglas Award from ACLU of Washington



The ACLU of Washington recently announced its 2015 honorees for outstanding contributions to civil liberties in Washington state: the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for its long history of defending civil liberties; Consejo Latino and Tri-Cities Community Solutions, two organizations that have mobilized community response to the police killing of a Mexican man in Pasco; and student activist Acacia Salisbury, who has used poetry to speak out against injustice.  The awards will be presented at the ACLU’s Bill of Rights Dinner being held on Saturday night, November 7 at Union Station.

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) is receiving the William O. Douglas Award, the ACLU’s lifetime achievement award, for its three decades of work to ensure that our legal system enforces the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to all people in America, citizens and non-citizens alike. NWIRP provides direct legal assistance in immigration matters to over 10,000 low-income people from 150 countries each year. Without this assistance, many of their clients would face deportation back to countries where they could be tortured or killed.  In addition, NWIRP pushes for systemic change through impact litigation, public policy advocacy, and community education.


“NWIRP’s work has not only had a profound impact on the lives of tens of thousands of individuals but also has affected immigration law at the national and regional level,” said ACLU-WA board president Jean Robinson.

Over the years, NWIRP has won many important legal victories for just treatment of immigrants,   Notable recent examples include the joint 2012 case Sanchez v. Homeland Security, a class action lawsuit challenging the Border Patrol’s practice of stopping vehicles on the Olympic Peninsula and interrogating occupants about their immigration status without legal justification. The Border Patrol agreed to provide training on the Constitution to agents in Port Angeles, provide reports documenting vehicle stops for 18 months, and affirm its commitment to comply with the Fourth Amendment. And in 2013, NWIRP and the ACLU-WA gained a favorable ruling in Ramirez-Rangel v. Kitsap County, in which the Court found that the Washington Constitution forbids local law enforcement officers from prolonging a detention to investigate or question an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, and/or national origin.