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Naturalize NOW Citizenship Clinics and more updates from OIRA!

Cuc Vu, Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

I hope you had a restful and fun holiday weekend. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for summer! Here’s a brief summary of immigrant and refugee news for the Seattle area.


I. Naturalize NOW!
The City of Seattle is joining this nationally coordinated campaign to help lawful permanent residents all over the U.S. become citizens! Dubbed Naturalize NOW, the Cities for Citizenship coalition (of which Seattle is a member) is organizing this campaign. The goal of this naturalization surge is to mobilize one million immigrants for citizenship in 2017.

We believe Seattle can contribute to this goal because: 1) 971,242 people applied for citizenship in 2016, a dramatic increase since 2012; 2) we already have monthly citizenship clinics scheduled for the rest of 2017; and 3) passionate people like you can help us get the word out (more about this below).

Check out our schedule of citizenship clinics that are happening all over Seattle, sponsored by many familiar Seattle-based immigrant assistance organizations. Citizenship Clinics are smaller in scale compared to our past larger Citizenship Workshops. Whereas the goals of our previous workshops were in the hundreds, the clinics each have goals of serving 30-50 eligible residents.

You’ll find translated flyers here that you can print out and give to your friends and neighbors or send via email. You can also tell people about our helpline at (206) 386-9090 for more information in a number of languages. Let’s get Seattle folks to Naturalize NOW!


II. Volunteer NOW!
As you know, our Citizenship Clinics are only as successful as our volunteer engagement. If you volunteered for one of our Citizenship Workshops in the past and want to help us out with these monthly Citizenship Clinics or if you missed our previous events and still want to help immigrants and refugees in Seattle, first check out our Citizenship Clinic schedule here, then let us know which event you’d like to volunteer for by registering here.

We are especially looking for bilingual volunteers.


III. Reporting ICE Activity
If you want to share information of immigration enforcement activity in the Seattle area, before posting to social media, we recommend calling: 1-844-RAID-REP (1-844-724-3737). The hotline runs 7 days a week from 6 AM-9 PM. It is not a service of the City of Seattle.

The hotline is staffed by Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network volunteers who will quickly confirm reports as they’re happening and provide referrals to lawyers and other services when people are detained. You can learn more about the WA Immigrant Solidarity Network here.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge that as a refugee myself, these past few months have been extremely difficult for immigrant and refugee communities. But seeing your emails of support and talking with many of you at our events continues to give me hope for this city and the nation. Thank you for all you do to help make Seattle a Welcoming City!


IV. Funding to Help Your Community Now Available!

In April of 2017 the Metropolitan King County Council passed Ordinance 18499, which passed a total of $750,000 in support of rapid response services for immigrant and refugee communities.

Seattle Foundation and King County recently launched The Resilience Fund, $350,000 to support community-based nonprofits seeking flexible funding to respond to immediate needs, as well as longer-term efforts that strengthen vulnerable communities and increase their resilience in the face of emerging challenges.

A Q&A session will be held on Wednesday, June 7, from 6-7:30pm in the Large Meeting Room at the Kent Library (212 2nd Ave N, Kent, WA 98032).

Please go here for the RFP for this fund.

An additional $100,000 is available through this RFQ document directly from the Office of Equity and Social Justice is to establish contracts to strengthen networked and backbone organizations that are supporting and connecting many others in our community to one another.


V. Now accepting applications for Ready to Work Summer Quarter!

LiteracySource and Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) are recruiting immigrants and refugees for the summer quarter of Ready to Work. The award-winning Ready to Work program was designed for residents who face immense barriers to learning English and gaining employment. The program combines English as a Second Language (ESL) classes with computer literacy instruction and culturally competent case management to help immigrants gain job readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency.

The Southeast Seattle RTW begins June 26, and the North Seattle RTW begins July 6.

More information can be found here.

Photo by Alabastro Photography.


VI. Legal Defense Fund Update…

You’ve probably already heard that Seattle and King County have come together to create a Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants and Refugees. You should know that only eligible community-based organizations can apply for the $1.2 million to provide legal assistance to immigrants from being deported. Immigrants facing deportation or other immigration proceedings are unable to apply for the funds directly.

The RFP (request for proposals) will be released on June 19. And funds will be awarded in August.

More information can be found here.