My name is Lili Navarrete. I am the director of public affairs and Raiz of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, vice president of Hispanic Business/Professional Association, vice chair of the Commission on Hispanic Affairs and my most important title: I am an immigrant. My family and I have been in the U.S. for more than 30 years now. Yes, we went through the whole system to obtain our American citizenship, hoping we would live the so-called American Dream and have a chance in life like every human being deserves.
But lately, as immigrants, we are living the American nightmare.
The rhetoric, xenophobia and health disparities are making the lives of immigrants a tribulation. We have come to a point where if we go out, due to the color of our skin or the language we speak, we are being yelled at, "Go back to your country," "speak English," "You're not American," and many other insults. I often ask White folks: "Why do you think we leave our countries where we have family, we know the language, we love our culture and our food? Why would we travel thousands of miles knowing that we could be raped or killed? Why would we travel thousands of miles to have our children taken away from us and be put in cages where they are sexually abused, malnourished, placed with strangers and not be seen again, or die alone?"
We come to the "Land Of The Free" to seek a better life for our families. As humans, we have the right to survive. Many immigrants escape from poverty, domestic violence, famish or being murdered. People ask why we don't come the right way? There's barely a right way with the current administration.
I have been a naturalized U.S. citizen for almost two decades now. Instead of traveling, I choose to advocate for the marginalized community and immigrant rights in Spokane. I know what my community is going through. I know the need, and I am here, along with other allies, family and friends who support me. Seeing DACA folks succeed and given this new opportunity by the Supreme Court decision makes me believe that our work as advocates is essential. We are not done yet. We need a pathway to citizenship for DACAmented folks and we will get there. We need to abolish ICE. We need to shut down detention centers.
In my role at Raiz of Planned Parenthood, we've helped expand reproductive health care to undocumented communities, stop warrantless searches from ICE and Border Patrol, reach out to farmworkers, provide food assistance and more. At Planned Parenthood, we believe that health has no borders, and that the ability to live and thrive without fear and to access health care are basic human rights.
This is why I do what I do. The good news is that we won't stop. We are here. Home is here. ♦
Lili Navarrete immigrated to Spokane with her family from Mexico City in 1988. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and minors in economics and business administration. Advocacy is central to her career. She is the director of public affairs and Raíz at Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho where she fights for reproductive rights, immigrants, and marginalized communities. She was also the 2020 EWU Activist in Residence.