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Small Office, Big Updates!

Cuc Vu, Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

It has been a busy past few months working on urgent policy issues. See below for a summary of all things OIRA and the left column for quick updates.


Seattle Votes Report and Release Data

We recently released a series of findings related to immigrant and refugee civic engagement and voting, one of the largest city-level datasets on this issue. With the help of 109 organizations, the Seattle Votes campaign received 5,566 completed surveys from immigrant and refugee residents in Seattle-King County, all collected between April and June of 2016.

The general report listed out recommendations for the entire dataset, while three breakout reports provided disaggregated data for Asian AmericanEast African, and Latino communities. And all the Seattle Votes raw data is available for anyone to analyze at:

One of the Seattle Votes findings was that only 54% of the entire sample was registered to vote, which means that nearly half of the respondents were not able to vote, with about 58 percent citing various reasons for not registering.

To find out more about those reasons for not registering and to read all four reports, go to:


City of Seattle Fights Back Against the Public Charge Rule Change Proposal

If you have been following the public charge issue, you will know that as of this email, the public charge rule change has not yet been published in the federal registry. If you do not know what I am referring to, go to this website or watch this video.

Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Durkan, the City of Seattle joined other concerned cities, counties, and states across the nation in requesting a meeting with federal representatives.

We met with Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs staff in early May to express our grave concerns about the proposed rule change. These community leaders joined us in that meeting:

Everyone did an excellent job explaining the detrimental effects this proposal would have on immigrant families. We hope to stop this proposed public charge rule change, but if further action is needed, advocates like you will have the opportunity to submit comments during the notice and public comment period.

If you are interested in following this, I recommend joining the Protecting Immigrant Families listserve:


Immigrants and Police Officers Celebrate Building Bridges, Trust

This past spring, Seattle police officers and immigrant youth and their caregivers learned from each other in an eight-week program called Immigrant Family Institute (IFI), intended to increase trust between immigrant families and Seattle police and to help officers increase their capacity to serve Seattle’s diverse immigrant residents. Once a week, the front-line police officers and immigrant families originally from CambodiaEritreaEthiopiaMexicoSomalia, and Vietnam met to learn from one another and build community.

Participants gathered at City Hall a few weeks ago to celebrate the completion of the program with acting SPD Chief Carmen Best and Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan. We are already planning for next year’s cohort. Check out this KOMO News story about the program.


Immigrant and Refugee Commission Seeks New Members

The City of Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission is looking for qualified and committed candidates. The information and advice that the commission provides about community needs, concerns, and opinions have a profound impact on City policies and can lead to improved services for all residents. Applications will be accepted through June 11, 2018.

Please send your resume, cover letter, two references, and a short bio about yourself to And please ensure that the words “Commissioner Application” are in the subject line. More information here.


2018 Citizenship Clinic Schedule Coming Soon

Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) launched the first Citizenship Clinic of 2018 last month. And Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)will be organizing the next clinic for Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 AM at Southwest Youth and Family Servicesin West Seattle.

To reserve a timeslot, call (206) 721-0243. Same day walk-ins welcome.

The final 2018 Citizenship Clinic schedule will be posted soon at


FREE Community Legal Workshop for TPS Holders

We are co-sponsoring this FREE community event for people who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), but want to learn about options after TPS ends. There will be a TPS Know Your Rights presentation and immigration attorneys will answer questions and offer individual consultations.

Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 2:00 PM at Rainier Community Center. See this flyer for more information (in English and Spanish). The Facebook event page is here.


Washington State RFP for Immigrant Legal Defense Fund Now Open

The Department of Commerce expects to make only one funding award for an eligible legal services provider that will be able to provide assistance to low-income immigrants who are in need of legal services related to their immigration status. More information about the RFP here.


P.S. We are also working on an action to counter the federal administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that is likely to tear even more children away from their families at the U.S./Mexico border. More information about that will be on social media. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.