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City of Seattle proud to host national gathering of fellow pro-immigrant cities

Cities for Action attendees at the May 2019 national gathering in Atlanta, Georgia.

On Monday, September 23, the City of Seattle will host over 50 attendees from 32 cities and counties for the 6th national convening of the Cities for Action (C4A) coalition. Staff from municipalities that welcome and value immigrant and refugee communities will converge at City Hall to share immigrant-inclusive best practices and policies. Panels and small group discussions will focus on an array of topics, including Census 2020 outreach and engagement plans, language access initiatives, best practices for organizing volunteers, and activating networks to rapidly respond to anti-immigrant federal actions. Participants will also discuss how municipalities can come together to advocate for pro-immigrant federal policies that contribute to dynamic cities and a stronger national economy.

The New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) coordinates the C4A steering committee, which includes representatives from the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle. Over the past few months, the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) has been working closely with their colleagues at MOIA to create a space for productive dialogue between City staff that work on immigrant and refugee issues. In past gatherings, cities have been able to learn from each other’s experiences and initiate innovative policies and programs to help vulnerable residents.

C4A attendees during an icebreaker session.

For example, the City of Seattle worked closely with other cities in sharing content ideas for drafting public comments against several Trump proposals. C4A cities have also been sharing the work each is engaged in locally on Census 2020 outreach and information plans that focuses on immigrant communities. Recently, OIRA secured a partnership with transportation network rideshare companies Lyft and Uber and local immigrant-serving nonprofits to help naturalization applicants overcome a recent Trump-era obstacle to citizenship. In June of this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Seattle-area immigrants applying for citizenship would have to travel hours away to offices in Yakima, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, for their naturalization interviews and even oath ceremonies. Previously, applicants could participate in these steps at the USCIS Seattle Field Office in Tukwila. This new partnership will provide an estimated 400 Seattle community members with free transportation to their faraway naturalization interviews.

Because of how close city governments are to their constituents, C4A cities are best positioned to quickly respond to the federal government’s ongoing anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies. The 2018 Cities for Action and Lumos Foundation report illustrates how local governments stepped up in the midst of the 2018 U.S. family separation crisis. For example, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan quickly traveled to Tornillo, Texas with a coalition of other mayors to protest the treatment and separation of immigrant families at the border. C4A municipalities will continue to oppose the indefinite detention of families, the Muslim travel ban, increased deportations, and more, while forging innovative solutions to help immigrant and refugee communities succeed

Launched in 2014, Cities for Action is a coalition of nearly 200 U.S. mayors and county executives advocating for pro-immigrant federal policies and launching innovative, inclusive programs and policies at the local level.

Learn more about Cities for Action at: