Worker Co-ops In DC Provide Mutual Aid to Stranded Asylum-Seekers

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During our Spring Member Meeting, Bianca Vazquez of Beloved Community Incubator shared how immigrant-led worker cooperatives are supporting recent migrant families from Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Venezuela, Angola and Nicaragua being forced onto buses to D.C. as part of a disgusting publicity stunt.

“Starting the weekend of April 15th, the Texas Governor followed by the Arizona Governor started sending buses full of asylum seekers to Washington D.C. and dumping them in front of Union Station with no food, money, or way to get to their next ICE appointment. We talk about co-ops responding when there is market failure, but now we’re seeing a double failure – market failure and government failure, so there’s been a huge mutual aid response to feed and house the 1,000 migrants who have come through D.C. in the past 30 days” Bianca explained.

According to a recent article in the DCist, “The [organizing] group, which is led by Black and brown femmes, operates on the tenets of mutual aid, a generations-old practice of reciprocal, community-based support that often picks up where governments or big-name nonprofits fall short. While many of the organizers engaged in mutual aid prior to the pandemic, they refined and expanded their efforts at the beginning of the public health crisis.”

Here are some of the worker co-ops Beloved Community Incubator has helped incubate who are stepping up for the migrant community in this dire time of need:

  • Dulce Hogar Cleaning Co-op has been cleaning the churches where asylum-seekers are staying temporarily, and the guest houses and homes of people who are hosting migrants for the long term
  • Vendors United Catering Co-op has cooked 2,000 meals for migrants in the past month alone
  • Throneless Tech Co-op has been collaborating with locals in the mutual aid network, using tech to organize the housing & food distribution effort
  • Brighter Days Dog-Walking Co-op has been helping with translation and other needed on-site work with local organizers

“There’s something really powerful about the ways that the co-ops in our ecosystem see themselves as really intimately connected to injustices that are happening and see co-ops as a way to come out of that – we already have asylum seekers asking ‘How can we join co-ops?” Bianca shared.

You can help by donating to Beloved Community Incubator who have raised and spent over $100k in the last month to support worker co-op solidarity chefs & cleaners and to Peace House DC and Sanctuary DMV to help house asylum seekers in the D.C. Maryland and Virginia area.

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(cover photo by Dee Dwyer for DCist)

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