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With your help, we made 2018 a welcoming year!

Cuc Vu, Director, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

This past year has been a tumultuous one for immigrant and refugee communities across the U.S. Despite the non-stop attacks against immigrants from the federal government, the city continued to be united in helping protect vulnerable communities. We were incredibly successful in helping support immigrants across the city thanks to the leadership of Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, the City Council, county and state government, community organizations, and people like you who are passionate about welcoming immigrant and refugee families into our communities!

See below for a rundown of some of our important achievements of 2018. And know that many of these could not have been possible without your support.


Our most notable accomplishments of 2018

We did it, Seattle!Last year, we became quite adept at responding to the barrage of federal attacks on our communities. In opposition to the Trump Administration’s harmful “public charge” proposal, we submitted a public comment against the proposed rule. We also assisted the Mayor and Council in submitting a comment on behalf of the City. Mayor Jenny A. Durkan also joined with King County and Washington State for a united local public comment. The mayor also joined New York and Chicago in signing onto a multi-city legal comment.

Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best poses with an IFI participant.This past year was the inaugural year of the Immigrant Family Institute’s (IFI’s) first-ever parenting classes to help both caregivers and youth ages 10 to 14 years old develop effective communication tools. Twenty-two caregivers and 36 youth successfully completed this evidence-based curriculum, and for the first time ever, our office helped facilitate the training in Vietnamese, Tigrinya, and Spanish! IFI also made an appearance in a recent report published by the leading law enforcement research institute Police Executive Research Forum. The report showcases how IFI helps build trust and break down barriers between immigrant and refugee families and police officers. You can read that report here:

Seattle United for Immigrants and Refugees volunteers and attendees.Last February, OIRA partnered with dozens of community-based organizations and multiple City departments, including Seattle Center, Parks and Recreation, Seattle Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, and Office of Economic Development to organize a massive Seattle United for Immigrants and Refugees Mega-workshop with the goal of helping 1,000 attendees with citizenship-related issues. At the end of the New Citizen Campaign (NCC) event, more than 700 volunteers came together to help 1,026 people receive free services!

Volunteers from the CISC Clinic.Throughout 2018, NCC partnered with community organizations to offer nine smaller-scale citizenship clinics. These community events served 291 people, with 175 Seattle residents on the path to citizenship! Additionally, the 12 community-based New Citizenship Program partner agencies in NCP served approximately 700 new clients and reported back on more than 400 newly-approved U.S. citizens. OIRA’s oldest program, the New Citizen Program (NCP) is a partnership between the City and community-based agencies to help low-income green card holders in Seattle and King County access quality naturalization legal services and instruction. In 2018, the 12 NCP partners served approximately 700 new clients and reported back on more than 400 newly-approved U.S. citizens.

A Ready to Work graduate.In 2018, our Ready to Work program expanded to the West Seattle neighborhood. With the addition of Neighborhood House, this year 243 immigrants received English as a Second Language (ESL) training, computer literacy instruction, and culturally competent case management to help them gain job readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency.

Mayor Jenny speaking out.The year 2018 might also be remembered as a year of judicial wins against a federal administration that continues to flout the rule of law and due process. This past August, a federal court upheld a district judge’s ruling that the federal government cannot withhold federal funding from cities like Seattle in retaliation for policies that support immigrant and refugee communities. And just recently, the Supreme Court upheld a federal judge’s order blocking the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions.

Immigrant and Refugee Commissioners testifying.Because Seattle’s leaders believe that immigrants facing deportation should have access to quality legal representation, OIRA implemented the Legal Defense Network (LDN) in the fall of 2017, with King County as a partner. After 15 months, community partners have screened well over 1,000 individuals, serving more than 774 kids and adults with legal advice or direct representation (at least 290 cases). And the LDN is transitioning to a permanent program funded in the Seattle and King County budgets, with $1M annually to support Seattle residents and workers.

An instructor doing a Know Your Rights training.In 2018 we continued supporting emergency assistance to DACA recipients, their families, and undocumented communities with the future of DACA still pending in the courts. Through seven nonprofit agencies, we reached well over 4,000 people through outreach and completed over 50 community education events with over 1,100 participants in attendance. Based on feedback from community members, we initiated a DACA filing fee assistance program with community organization 21 Progress through which 37 individuals were able to pay their DACA application fees.

This coming year, we will continue our dedication to immigrant integration and partnering with City departments and community organizations to ensure that Seattle continues to shine as a welcoming city for immigrants and refugees.


One More Thing…

In case you didn’t know, starting January 11, 2019, the Puget Sound region will experience the longest closure of a major highway when WSDOT closes the Alaskan Way Viaduct to complete the work needed to open the SR 99 tunnel three weeks later. Everyone traveling in the region will be impacted. Visit for more information.