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A New Face Around the OIRA Office!

Alessandra (Alex) Roque, External Affairs Intern

My name is Alessandra (Alex) Roque (she/her), and I’m delighted to join the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) as the newest External Affairs Intern. This fall, I will start my junior year at the University of Washington as a Law, Societies, and Justice major, having recently completed the Associate of Arts program at Seattle Central College.

I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines, and after years apart, I finally reunited with my family who came to the United States to pursue a better, stable life. They particularly wanted me, their youngest child, to receive a quality college education that was much more difficult to attain back home. I remember the immigration process as a difficult one for all of us. While we were lucky to have resources that helped us navigate the many complicated immigration protocols, we constantly feared that a single mistake would delay or completely unravel all our hard work. When I finally landed in Seattle, I realized that what we went through was only the beginning of our challenges.

From healthcare to housing to education, we struggled to navigate systems that felt unwelcoming. Whether we faced language or cultural barriers, we soon believed that it was our sole responsibility to navigate all these challenging processes alone. This narrative isolated us from forming intentional relationships with the community around us. It was a challenge to truly integrate into our new home. 

However, I found a supportive community when I started volunteering and working with Seattle-based immigrant and refugee advocacy organization OneAmerica (OA).

I became passionate about the issues that impact immigrant and refugee communities because of my family’s experiences with navigating the immigration system and other similarly complicated processes in the U.S. Working with OA helped me foster these passions and more importantly, act on them. The highlight of my experience with OA was when I worked directly on their Language Access Campaign as a core leader, where I helped organize a youth-led and centered committee. We coordinated and facilitated meetings with elected officials, government agencies, and other key stakeholders to gather essential information for our campaign. Our work directly led to the successful passage of the Language Access Bill (HB1153) in 2022. This state bill increases language access services in K-12 schools across Washington, a major victory for immigrant families

Before joining OIRA, I served as a constituent services intern at Senator Patty Murray’s Office. I researched various issues and helped the office respond to constituent needs, from relaying constituent opinions on state and federal issues to helping them receive assistance regarding immigration or veteran affairs. Learning firsthand how government offices can benefit local residents solidified my passion for serving the communities around me.  

From serving at a nonprofit to interning at a senate office, my background and work experience has shown me there are endless ways to improve the experiences and lives of immigrants and refugees. This could take the form of federal immigration reform, improved language accessibility in local schools, or even equitable community outreach. With my time at OIRA, I hope to familiarize myself with all the different ways a local government can serve Seattle’s immigrant and refugee population, particularly through making sure that important information and resources are accessible to all immigrant and refugee residents.