How We are a Welcoming City

Jump to a specific section to learn more about Seattle's Welcoming Values and Actions:

Below is a recent timeline of Welcoming City actions.

2020

  • January 8
    OIRA rejoices at the news of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denying the Trump Administration's motion to temporarily lift the New York District Court's injunction of the public charge regulation while the appeal advances. The nationwide preliminary injunction is still in place, and DHS's public charge rule is still blocked from taking effect! Learn more about the public charge issue at our information page.
  • January 2
    OIRA announces opportunities to partner with the City of Seattle on "Rapid Response" actions to counter the federal administration's anti-immigrant policies, rule changes, and other court rulings. The City has appropriated $375,000 for a one-time Rapid Response Fund for addressing anti-immigrant/refugee issues in 2020.

2019

  • December 23
    On behalf of the City of Seattle, Mayor Durkan submitted a public comment to the Federal Register opposing the Trump administration's drastic immigration fee increases and the elimination of the fee waiver for some immigrants.
  • December 9
    Based on the City of Seattle lawsuit, Judge Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction barring USCIS from implementing changes that would limit access to immigration fee waivers.
  • November 25
    Mayor Durkan joined Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and community members in an ACRS-led press conference to oppose the drastic immigration fee hikes proposed by the Trump administration, a "wealth test" issue separate from the immigration fee waiver lawsuit (see below).
  • October 30
    OIRA/City of Seattle joined immigrant service organizations in a lawsuit against the Trump administration over new rules that would make it more difficult for vulnerable immigrants to apply for an immigration fee waiver.

    Seattle Times: "Seattle joins in suing Trump administration over new rules for citizenship application fees."
  • October 8
    On behalf of the City of Seattle, OIRA met with Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to express our concerns with any Department of Justice public charge rule change that might expand deportability grounds.
  • October 4
    OIRA submitted a public comment to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer. We oppose the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' proposed rule to modify Form N-648 ,Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions for the fourth time this year. This USCIS revision would unnecessarily make it more difficult for disabled lawful permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.
  • September 23
    Cities for Action logoThe City of Seattle hosted the Cities for Action National Gathering of over 50 attendees from 32 cities and counties. Mayor Durkan welcomed the attendees. Panels and small group discussions focused on language access initiatives, activating networks to rapidly respond to anti-immigrant federal actions, and Census 2020 outreach and engagement plans.
  • August 18
    OIRA submits a public comment to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer strongly opposing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' proposed rule to modify Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, which would needlessly place obstacles to lawful permanent residents attempting to renew their green cards.
  • August 12
    Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes released a statement condemning the Trump administration's implementation of their final "public charge" rule, which will effectively impose an income test on immigrants and their families applying for green cards, forcing them to choose between reuniting with their loved ones and accessing crucial government services like health care, housing assistance, and other lifeline services.
  • July 3
    OIRA submits a third public comment strongly opposing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' proposed rule to modify Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, which would disproportionately harm immigrants with low incomes who want to apply for U.S. citizenship, (see below).
  • June 19
    As Trump vows mass arrests of immigrants, City of Seattle departments published immigration know your rights information to communities, and Mayor Jenny denounced this scare tactic and called on residents to be careful and look out for each other.
  • May 29
    Mayor Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the grantees of the $5.6 million Expanded Seattle-King County Immigrant Legal Defense Fund (ELDF), a continuation of the Seattle-King County Immigrant Legal Defense Network, providing legal services to immigrants and refugees at risk of deportation.
  • May 28
    Seattle City Council votes to approve the joint mayor/council resolution in support of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. Mayor Durkan signed the resolution later that week with Councilmember M. Lorena González.
  • May 23
    Mayor Durkan submits a letter to then U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Lee Cissna expressing the City of Seattle's deep concern about the possibility that USCIS will eliminate the naturalization application fee waiver.
  • May 14
    OIRA's nationally recognized Immigrant Family Institute graduates its third-ever class of police officers and immigrant families originally from Brazil, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Mexico, Somalia, and Vietnam, focused on creating dialogue to break down stereotypes each community had about each other.
  • May 4
    OIRA submits another public comment strongly opposing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' proposed rule to modify Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, which would disproportionately harm immigrants with low incomes who want to apply for U.S. citizenship. This comment also responds to USCIS responses to the November 2018 public comments, (see below).
  • April 19
    Mayor Durkan led a coalition of mayors to send a letter to President Trump calling on him to take steps to address this country's broken and outdated immigration system.
  • April 16
    OIRA submits a public comment to the Federal Register strongly opposing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' proposed rule to establish a USCIS Tip Form that will only further victimize vulnerable immigrants.
  • April 12
    Mayor Durkan pens this Washington Post op-ed titled, "Seattle isn't afraid of immigrants, Mr. Trump," in response to Trump's recent idea of trying to "punish" cities like Seattle, an idea so bizarre that even ICE thought it was inappropriate.
  • April 2
    OIRA and the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) submits a public comment to the Federal Register strongly opposing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rule to further restrict food assistance to immigrant, refugee, and people of color communities.
  • April 2
    OIRA submits a public comment to the Federal Register strongly opposing the Social Security Administration's proposed rule to remove "inability to communicate in English" as an education category.
  • April 1
    With one year until Census Day 2020, Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Durkan, and The Seattle Foundation announce the first-ever $1 Million Regional Census Fund for community-based organizations to conduct outreach to traditionally undercounted communities.
  • March 14
    The City of Seattle continues its involvement with the Cities for Citizenship "Second Wall" campaign, referring to the growing backlog of naturalization applications affecting green card holders in cities across the country. Seattle also pledges to help naturalize one million immigrants.
  • March 8
    Mayor Durkan announces community leaders and elected officials to serve as members of the Seattle Census Task Force who will help organize Seattle's preparations for the 2020 Census.
  • January 14
    In an important step for Seattle and immigrant and refugee communities across the country, a federal judge in New York blocked the Trump administration from including a citizenship question as part of the 2020 U.S. Census. Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Holmes commended the court's ruling.
  • January 2
    In partnership with Seattle community organizations, OIRA finalizes its schedule of neighborhood-based citizenship clinics to help legal permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship.

2018

2017

2016

  • November 24
    Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order reaffirming Seattle as a Welcoming City. The order states that City employees will not ask about the status of residents and all City services will be available to all residents. Additionally, the City will set aside $250,000 to address the needs of unauthorized immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools and their families.

 

Below is a brief summary of policies, actions, and programs that make Seattle a Welcoming City.

The Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs was created to increase immigrant integration in Seattle.

Created in 2012 and significantly expanded in 2014, the mission of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is to improve the lives of Seattle's immigrant and refugee residents. OIRA works to strengthen immigrant and refugee communities by engaging them in decisions about the City of Seattle's future, and improving the City's programs and services to meet the needs of all constituents. Learn more about OIRA's work here.

 

A few members of the OIRA team.

 

The Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission was created to provide a vehicle for immigrant and refugee leaders to advise city officials on pertinent issues.

The Immigrant and Refugee Commission was created as a result of Seattle's Immigrant and Refugee Report and Action Plan released in 2007. With the unprecedented growth in the foreign-born population since the 1980s, Seattle has become an increasingly multi-cultural city, rich with diversity. In keeping with the Race and Social Justice Initiative, the mayor and city council want to ensure that city government provides high-quality customer service to all, including immigrants and refugees living and working in Seattle. The Immigrant and Refugee Commission helps the city reach its goals. Learn more about the commission here.

 

The Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee has a specific focus on protecting immigrant and refugee rights.

OIRA staff meet with the GESCNA CommitteeThe purpose of the Seattle City Council Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans Committee is to provide policy direction and oversight and to deliberate and make recommendations on legislative matters relating to: law enforcement, with special emphasis on programs and strategies to reduce crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and youth violence; implementation of the Settlement Agreement between the Department of Justice and the City of Seattle regarding the Seattle Police Department; fire prevention and suppression; emergency medical services; criminal justice; coordination with municipal, regional, state and federal agencies engaged in public safety issues; immigrant and refugee rights; gender equity issues; and emergency preparedness, management, and response. 

Find out more about the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee meeting schedule.

More about the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee here.

 

Ordinances and resolutions affirming Seattle as a Welcoming City.

  1. Ordinance 121063 - 2003, instructs SPD officers to refrain from requiring the immigration status of any person with notable exceptions, e.g. suspect in a felony investigation.
  2. Resolution 30672 - 2004, reminds SPD officers to refrain from enforcing civil federal immigration violations such as lack of immigration status.
  3. Resolution 30796 - 2005, creates an immigrant and refugee action plan.
  4. Resolution 30851 - 2006, calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
  5. Ordinance 122441 - 2007, establishes the Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Board.
  6. Resolution 31193 - 2010, calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
  7. Resolution 31214 - 2010, requests city departments refrain from sending city employees to Arizona to denounce their Senate Bill 1070 and calls for federal immigration reform.
  8. Ordinance 123822 - 2012, establishes OIRA and changes the advisory board to the Immigrant and Refugee Commission.
  9. Resolution 31490 - 2013, establishes joint city council-mayor citywide policy priorities in support of federal comprehensive immigration reform, ranging from high-tech visas to supporting DREAM Act legislation.
  10. Resolution 31339 - 2014, prioritizes family unity and urges President Obama and Congress to replace the enforcement-oriented federal immigration system with an immigration policy that keeps families together and respects the right of all workers to support their families.
  11. Resolution 31539 - 2014, calls for Obama administration to replace enforcement-oriented system with one that prioritizes keeping families together. Also mentions again that organizations funded by the city shall not consider immigration status for accessing services, among other efforts to strengthen communication between immigrant communities and the city.
  12. Executive Order 2016-08 - 2016, reaffirms existing policies and provides guidance to city employees on protecting immigrants' access to police protection and public services and establishes an "Inclusive and Equitable City Cabinet" to coordinate city efforts to protect the civil liberties and civil rights of all Seattle residents.

 

The City of Seattle partners with a number of community-based organizations that provide services for undocumented/unauthorized residents.

21 Progress
Casa Latina
Colectiva Legal del Pueblo
El Centro de la Raza
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
OneAmerica
Washington Dream Coalition

 

The City of Seattle's Seattle Center offers year-round events celebrating the diversity of the Pacific Northwest.

Festál, presented by Seattle Center in partnership with community organizations, is a year-long series of FREE events that honors the cultural richness and diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Festál plays a vital part in Seattle Center efforts to connect our dynamic and varied communities. Learn more about our events here.

Festal images

Banner photo credit: Alabastro Photography.