How We are a Welcoming City

Citizenship Day and Welcoming Week 2019

Logo of Citizenship Day 2019
Citizenship Day is Tuesday, September 17. This is a day to reflect on the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship and celebrate people who are taking steps to become U.S. citizens.

Welcoming Week 2018 Logo
Welcoming Week
is from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 22. It is an annual series of events, where communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone.

Below is a listing of Citizenship Day and Welcoming Week celebrations happening in and around Seattle.

If you have an event that should be added to this list, please email oira@seattle.gov.


Fiestas Patrias

Fiestas Patrias dancers in dresses.Saturday, September 14 to Sunday, September 15
Sponsored by Seattle Center Festál, you can explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of the nations of Latin America through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, and games in both the South Park neighborhood and Seattle Center. This year's theme is "Building Bridges." More information at the Fiestas Patrias website.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Welcoming Week Events

Seattle Parks and Rec Welcoming Week 2019 LogoTuesday, September 17 to Saturday, September 21
Join Seattle Parks and Recreation for Welcoming Week events in our Downtown Seattle parks. This year's theme is Building a Nation of Neighbors Starts Locally with You. This is why these events focus on showing the world how our community welcomes everyone, including immigrants and refugees. More information at Parks and Recreation.


Citizenship Day Seattle Citizenship Clinic (West Seattle)

Volunteer ready to help someone apply for citizenship. Saturday, September 21 at 10:00 AM
OIRA and the International Rescue Committee are partnering to organize this Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinic where immigrants can receive free assistance completing their naturalization applications from volunteer lawyers and interpreters. More information at newcitizencampaign.org.


Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinic (Across Washington State)

Washington New Americans Logo
Saturday, September 21 at 10:00 AM

Washington New Americans Program is organizing Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinics in Renton, Pasco, and Ellensburg where immigrants can receive free assistance completing their naturalization applications from volunteer lawyers and interpreters. More information at Washington New Americans.


University Family YMCA: Family Activity and Resource Sharing Event

YMCA Welcoming Week event logo
Saturday, September 21 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

This Welcoming Week event is a resource fair with activities for the whole family, which include a bounce house with inflatable slide, arts and crafts for kids, face painting, prizes, and more. OIRA will also have a table at this event. See you there!
More information in this flyer.

 

Below is a recent timeline of Welcoming City actions.

August 18, 2010
OMB Logo 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, 2010
Mayor Durkan addressing reporters. 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, 2019
Seal of the U.S. PresidentOIRA 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, 2019
Seal of the U.S. President 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, 2019
Mayor showing the signed resolution.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, 2019
Mayor showing the signed resolution.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, 2019
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, 2019
IFI participants pose for the camera.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, 2019
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, 2019
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, 2019
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, 2019
Screenshot of the mayor's op-ed.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, 2019
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, 2019
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, 2019
Elected officials signing the Regional Census Fund memorandum of understanding.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, 2019
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, 2019
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, 2019
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, 2019
Immigrants taking the oath.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.

 

 

 

December 10, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.The public comment period for the public charge Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) closes. Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Seattle City Council submitted a public comment opposed to the rule on behalf of the City of Seattle. She also signed onto a multi-city legal comment drafted by the City of Chicago and City of New York. The mayor also signed onto Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's public comment with King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Multiple other City departments also submitted public comments, including the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Office of Sustainability and Environment, and Office of Housing. Individuals across the U.S. submitted 216,102 comments on the proposed rule, far surpassing the original goal of 100,000 comments. OIRA and the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Washington Coalition worked together to inform community members about this proposal and gathered over 1,100 comments, which helped PIF-WA reach their goal of 4,000 public comments.

Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Individuals across the U.S. submitted 216,102 comments on the proposed rule, far surpassing the original goal of 100,000 comments. OIRA and the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Washington Coalition worked together to inform community members about this proposal and gathered over 1,100 comments, which helped PIF-WA reach their goal of 4,000 public comments.

 

December 5, 2018
Mayor Durkan presenting to constituents.Mayor Durkan discusses the facts regarding USCIS's proposed "public charge" rule on her blog. She also calls on the Department of Homeland Security to immediately withdraw its current proposal and dedicate its efforts to advancing policies that strengthen-rather than undermine-the ability of immigrants to support themselves and their families in the future.

 

November 27, 2018
Seal of the U.S. PresidentOIRA submits a public comment to the Federal Register 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.

 

October 10, 2018
Mayor Durkan speaking out against anti-immigrant policies.Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes condemned the Trump administration's proposed "public charge" regulations announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These proposed rules would 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 public benefits.

 

October 3, 2018
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signs onto a U.S. Conference of Mayor's statement opposing the proposed change to the public charge immigration rule.

 

September 25, 2018
The City of Seattle joins with over 1,000 organizations nationwide to oppose the proposed change to the public charge immigration rule. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs also joins with the Protecting Immigrant Families Washington Coalition in speaking out against the proposed rule.

 

July 30, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Mayor Durkan is one of nearly 50 U.S. mayors and county executives who delivered a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna demanding that the agency reduce the backlog of over 753,000 citizenship applications and reduce the time it currently takes to process citizenship applications down to six months.

 

June 21, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Using her own money, Mayor Durkan traveled to a federal facility for separated migrant children in Tornillo, Texas and with a bipartisan delegation of mayors, called on the Trump Administration to reunite separated migrant families and to abandon its "zero tolerance" policy that criminalizes asylum seekers.

 

June 13, 2018
With assistance from OIRA, the local Protecting Immigrant Families Washington Coalition (a network of Washington state-based organizations working on opposing the public charge issue) organizes an Ethnic Media Roundtable to inform outlets serving immigrant and refugee communities about the public charge issue and how they can ensure that accurate information is released to communities.

 

June 11, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.At the 86th Annual Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors held in Boston, Mayor Durkan led a bipartisan coalition of U.S. mayors in condemning the Department of Justice's and Department of Homeland Security's "zero tolerance" policy separating immigrant families. She also led the convening in committing to criminal justice reform by calling on cities to vacate misdemeanor marijuana vacation convictions in states where recreational marijuana is now legal.

 

May 9, 2018
Based on the mayor's request for a meeting, the Mayor's Office with the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and invited community members, including representatives from Korean Women's AssociationNorthwest HarvestOneAmerica, Public Health - Seattle and King County, and Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program) meet with OMB representatives and shared arguments against the public charge NPRM.

 

May 7, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Under the direction of Mayor Durkan, the City of Seattle met with representatives from the federal Office of Management and Budget-Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to advocate against the Trump Administration's efforts to expand the definition of public charge through the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This expanded definition will negatively impact immigrants across the country.

 

April 16, 2018
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan sends a letter to federal Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OMB) requesting a meeting on the public charge Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) currently under their review.

 

April 13, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.The Department of Justice issues a new threat of a subpoena claiming Seattle is "enact[ing] policies that thwart the federal government's ability to enforce federal immigration law" and intentional in their "effort to undermine public safety and the rule of law." Mayor Durkan responds defending the City's actions and showing Seattle respects the rule of law.

 

April 3, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announce that the City of Seattle has joined a coalition of states and cities in a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from demanding citizenship information in the 2020 decennial Census and to preserve a fair and accurate count. Seattle joins a coalition of 18 Attorneys General, six cities, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors to hold the Trump Administration accountable for violating the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution.\

 

February 3, 2018
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Mayor Durkan issues a mayoral directive to ensure the City is prepared for any and all requests by ICE authorities. All ICE requests are now directed to the Mayor's Office Legal Counsel, including requests for access to non-public areas in City buildings and venues as well as for data or information about City employees, residents, or workers.

 

December 7, 2017
Frontpage of the newcitizencampaign.org website.Mayor Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes respond in a letter to Attorney General Sessions defending Seattle's status as a Welcoming City. Back in November, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to 29 U.S. cities, including Seattle, arguing that they may be violating federal law through their efforts to protect immigrants and refugees as a Welcoming City.

 

April 28, 2017
Mayor Ed Murray joined by Councilmembers M. Lorena González and Tim Burgess signed an ordinance creating a $1 million legal defense fund for Seattle residents and workers who cannot afford legal representation or services in immigration proceedings.

 

January 30, 2017
Seattle City Council passed a resolution affirming the City of Seattle's commitment as a Welcoming City by a unanimous vote (9-0).

 

November 24, 2016
Mayor Murray signs Welcoming City Executive Order 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.