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Immigration and refugee affairs during these uncertain times…

City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Citizenship Workshop. Mayor Ed Murray. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

OIRA Director Cuc Vu and Mayor Ed Murray. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

Cuc Vu, Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

First, I’d like to acknowledge that it has been a very turbulent time for our nation’s immigrant and refugee communities. I have heard first-hand from friends and community members the very real fear and confusion stemming from the federal executive orders released last month and from the increased ICE activity across the nation.

Here in Seattle and Washington state, Mayor Murray and Governor Inslee have affirmed that we are a Welcoming City and a Welcoming State. It reflects our history and our values – shared by both Democratic and Republican elected officials alike – and it’s the reason that my family resettled in Washington as refugees from Viet Nam.

As a Welcoming City, we will do everything in our power to serve our most vulnerable residents and ensure that the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are respected. Key to this success is to educate and activate concerned residents. Here are a few opportunities you should know about:

Immigration 101 for Allies and Service Providers (in English)
Our office has partnered with the Seattle Public Library and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to offer this workshop: Immigration 101 for Allies and Service Providers on Thursday, March 2, 6:00 pm-8:30 pm at the downtown Seattle Public Library (1000 Fourth Ave, 98104). The audience for this workshop includes service providers and anyone who works with immigrants and refugees. By the end of the training, you will be better able to communicate accurate information about various immigration issues to your immigrant and refugee friends and neighbors.

Please RSVP at the Facebook event here. There is no registration for the event, as it is first come, first served. So please RSVP at the Facebook event page and come early! The event will also be broadcast via Facebook Live.

Phinney Ridge Know Your Rights Training (in Spanish)
Also, the nonprofit organization Colectiva Legal del Pueblo is offering a free Know Your Rights training for immigrants and their families with the Phinney Neighborhood Association. The event will be held on Saturday, March 11 at 2:00 pm at the Phinney Center (6532 Phinney Ave N, 98103) and will be facilitated in Spanish, including a Q&A.

El Centro de la Raza Emergency Safety Planning Assistance for Families (in Spanish)
From now until March 4, El Centro de la Raza is offering free Family Safety Planning and Know Your Rights trainings for families with children who have parents facing potential detainment or deportation. No appointment is necessary. The drop-ins are at El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Ave S, 98144). More information is at El Centro’s Facebook page.

Additionally, we have heard that another executive order on border security is set to be released this week. If you or anyone you know is an immigrant and plans to travel any time soon, we recommend that you enter in your travel information at this site By using this site, immigrants and families arriving into airports around the country will have access to free legal help when they need it. You must enter in your travel details before you travel.

Lastly, I wanted you to know that the city has taken legal action to fight the federal executive orders. Last week, Mayor Ed Murray announced his plans to issue FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests to federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to answer questions about the president’s executive orders, as well as the administration’s plans for DACA and sanctuary cities. More about that here.

Also, we have joined in the amicus brief in Darweesh v. Donald Trump, seeking an injunction against President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. The brief challenges the President’s ban on the grounds it violates the due process of valid visa holders and imposes a de facto religious test on immigrants. More information here.

We believe that the rule of law is on our side.

Final thoughts:

  • Our Facebook and Twitter pages have the most up-to-date information related to immigrant and refugee issues. Follow us for the latest developments.
  • If you are looking for Know Your Rights info online to disseminate to community members and friends, check out these resources in multiple languages from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: