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Team OIRA Fall 2019 Newsletter

OIRA Director Cuc VuI can’t believe it has been seven months since our last update. As expected, we’ve been exceptionally busy, working right through the summer. So, consider this our combined summer and fall newsletter. And we will try to keep you more in the loop as we enter into 2020. (Can you believe it is 2020 already?) Check out our summary below on what has been keeping us busy, as well as what will continue to keep us busy in 2020. And we hope that you are surrounded by family and friends this holiday. Our office is thankful that Seattle has supporters like you.

Cuc Vu, Director
Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (aka “Team OIRA”)
Confused about Public Charge?
Statue of LibertyWe get it. The Public Charge issue really IS confusing. We hope that this FAQ for service providers and downloadable infographic translated into 12 languages for immigrants helps clear things up.

The most important thing to remember is that the rule is NOT in effect for now because the courts temporarily blocked it. Families should continue to use the services for which they are eligible.

If you are uncertain about your status or accessing benefits, you should speak with an immigration attorney or Department of Justice (DOJ)-accredited representative. You may be able to find a lawyer through the American Immigration Lawyers Association here. You can find the nearest DOJ-accredited organization here. Please do not rely on rumors or opinions.

Please read here and feel free to share this link:
United against Trump’s “wealth test” for citizenship.
Community and City advocates opposing the Trump wealth test.By now, you have probably heard that we are suing the Trump administration because they are making it more difficult for vulnerable immigrants to access a fee waiver for applying for citizenship. Now we are fighting a new Trump proposal. Yesterday, we joined Mayor Durkan, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and community advocates in opposing Trump’s wealth test for immigrants applying for citizenship and other immigration benefits. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans on substantially increasing fees related to naturalization. They even want to start charging people for applying for asylum! This is still just a proposal. And we pledge to fight it. A comment period is currently open for you to tell them what you think about this proposal.

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) has this online portal that makes it easy for you to comment. Please join us and submit a comment through the NPNA portal. The comment period closes on December 16, 2019.

Get FREE help applying for citizenship NOW!

Given all the proposed citizenship fee changes, we recommend that if you are an eligible green card holder, you should apply as soon as possible. Our last free citizenship clinic of 2019 is happening on Saturday, December 14 at 10:00 AM at Chinese Information and Service Center (611 S Lane St, Seattle WA 98104). To learn more and to reserve a timeslot, call (206) 957-8515. (Same day walk-ins are likely available.)
We have a budget!
Council meeting in sessionYesterday was also significant because Seattle City Council adopted the 2020 budget, with two significant adds for Team OIRA:
  • A $375,000 Rapid Response Fund (sponsored by Councilmember Lorena González) to respond to emerging threats from the Trump administration, including federal policy changes that impact immigrant and refugee communities. This includes outreach and education to help community members understand how decisions about DACA and TPS and public charge and other rule changes may affect them.
  • $50,000 in City of Seattle general funds (sponsored by outgoing Councilmember Abel Pacheco) to provide scholarships to Seattle residents applying to renew their DACA or TPS status.
OIRA’s base budget remains stable at approximately $4.5 million, supporting our ongoing efforts around citizenship, employment, language access, removal defense, and other strategies to protect and support immigrants across Seattle.
Welcome and farewell to Team OIRA members!
OIRA staff selfieThis past October, we said good bye to our intern Alfredo Lopez who will be finishing up college and embarking on new adventures. Then, we joyfully welcomed two new members to Team OIRA. Oksana Bilobran is our new Legal Defense Program and Policy Specialist and Peggy Liao our Language Access Program and Policy Specialist.
You can read more about them here.
We support DACA and undocumented immigrants!
DACA protest speakersThe U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on November 12. Whether you have DACA or not, we know that undocumented immigrants have long contributed to the civic and cultural life of this city. You are #HereToStay, and no matter what happens with the Supreme Court, we will continue to support you, DACA or no DACA.‬
Our DACA page has the latest updates.
Celebrating the 2nd year of Strengthening Families Program!
SFP members pose for a pictureThis past November also marked the final day of our 7-week-long Strengthening Families Program (SFP). José Manuel Vasquez worked with a team of facilitators, including Seattle Police Department officers and Neighborhood House staff, to deliver a parenting skills and leadership development class for immigrant and refugee families simultaneously in four languages. Looking forward to SFP 2020!

Seattle/King County Clinic returns February 13-16

This clinic offering FREE dental, vision, and medical care has been moved to a different month and a different location within Seattle Center because of Key Arena construction. We have a big need for interpreters. And you do not need to be a certified medical interpreter. Consider signing up to volunteer. You can also help us inform the community. Print out and post these translated fliers.

Census is hiring!

So much is at stake for Seattle in the 2020 U.S. Census, including representation in government and access to funding for important safety net programs. Residents are more likely to open their doors and talk to census takers who are from their community. Apply for a census job. Positions are open to non-citizens with work authorization.
Sound Transit light rail train
Take this Sound Transit survey about your experience of fare checks on light rail and Sounder.
Cool image of the city of Seattle
Learn what benefits you might be eligible for and how much you could save at Affordable Seattle.