We miss seeing our immigrant and refugee friends and advocates in person, whether at a meeting, fundraiser, or community celebration. While our physical office may still be closed, we all continue to answer our phones and emails, and we look forward to partnering with you as we innovate and evolve how we serve our communities during this COVID-19 pandemic. Please see below for more information on what we have been up to. Hope to see you at an online video meeting or chat over the phone. And may you and your loved ones be healthy and well.
The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (Team OIRA)
FREE Online Legal Clinic for Undocumented Immigrants and DACA Recipients: August 31, 4-7 PM
Recently, the Trump Administration announced it would reject all first-time DACA applications and limit DACA renewals to only one year (instead of the previous two years). This was in direct defiance of both the U.S. Supreme Court decision and a federal court order compelling the full restoration of DACA program. Thus, we are offering a free legal clinic to assist both undocumented immigrants and DACA-recipients.
Since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is still currently accepting DACA renewal applications, the clinic will offer an opportunity to have your renewal packet reviewed by an immigration attorney. We also recommend that undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients, be screened for other forms of immigration relief. You must sign up for a timeslot at the link below.
Virtual Legal Clinic
Monday, August 31, 4 PM – 7 PM
Meet with an immigration attorney to:
Review your DACA renewal application.
Discuss your immigration situation.
Be screened for possible forms of immigration relief.
You might have heard some confusing information from news reports about Trump’s public charge rule. We believe it is most important for you to know that Trump’s public charge rule is temporarily blocked during this declared national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, a federal judge temporarily blocked the administration from moving forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants if they or a family member has received Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers, even on a limited basis. According to USCIS, they “will apply the 1999 public charge guidance that was in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented on Feb. 24, 2020 to the adjudication of any application for adjustment of status on or after July 29, 2020.”
Just a reminder that the “public charge inadmissibility test” affects people applying for admission to the U.S. or for applying for green cards/lawful permanent residency. It does not apply to green card holders and humanitarian immigrants such as refugees; asylees; survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and other serious crimes; special immigrant juveniles; and certain individuals paroled into the U.S. Learn more here.
Why all eligible immigrants need to apply for U.S. citizenship, NOW!
The Trump administration will soon nearly double the cost of applying to become a U.S. citizen. This is the “wealth test” that we have advocated against these past few years. The fee to apply for naturalization will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $1,170 if paper filing. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also announced the elimination of fee waivers for naturalization and other applications, a new fee to apply for asylum, and increases in fees for dozens of other immigration and work applications. These fee hikes and changes are set to go into effect on October 2, 2020.
Get FREE help applying for citizenship!
Given all the citizenship fee increases, we very much recommend that if you are an eligible green card holder, you should apply as soon as possible. Our next online citizenship clinic is happening in September 2020. To learn more and to reserve a timeslot, text or call (971) 260-6481. Or learn more at www.seattle.gov/ncc.
The Immigrant and Refugee Commission wants YOU!
This commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments/offices on how we can enhance and improve access to City services and resources for immigrants and refugees. You must commit to spending a minimum of 10 volunteer hours per month on commission work, including monthly commission meetings and to actively participate in at least one committee.
To apply, please send a resume and cover letter stating your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensure the words “Commissioner Application” are in the subject line. For questions, call (206) 487-0007 or go to the Commission’s website. The application period closes on Monday, August 31.
OTHER CITY OF SEATTLE NEWS
The Washington Worker Relief Fund is a GO!
In case you missed it, Governor Jay Inslee announced two new financial aid programs for immigrants:
Immigrant Relief Fund: provides $40 million to assist Washington residents unable to access federal stimulus programs due to their immigration status
Food Production Paid Leave Program: provides $3 million of financial resources to certain food production workers who remain home when ill.
The Census is ending early, inequitably impacting POC residents. You know what to do…
The Trump administration’s plan to end the Census will likely mean that people of color, immigrants, and refugees won’t be included in this year’s Census count. So much is at stake for us, including representation in government and access to funding for important safety net programs.If you or folks you know haven’t yet filled out your Census form, you can do so here: 2020census.gov. It only takes 6 minutes to complete.