Seattle is a Welcoming City

Citizenship Day and Welcoming Week 2018

Logo of Citizenship Day 2018
Citizenship Day
is Monday, September 17, 2018. 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 14 to Sunday, September 23, 2018. 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

Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinics

Saturday, September 8 at 10:00 AM
Washington New Americans Program is organizing Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinics in Moses Lake, Pasco, and Renton where immigrants can receive free assistance completing their naturalization applications from volunteer lawyers and interpreters.
More information here.

3rd Annual Taste of Affinity

Wednesday, September 12 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
A celebration of flavors and cultures sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities employee affinity organizations and the City of Seattle, foods from different countries will be served at the Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall. Suggested donation is $10. There will also be music, videos, and vendor goods.

Fiestas Patrias

Saturday, September 15 to Sunday, September 16
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.
More information here.

Citizenship Day Port of Seattle Press Conference

Monday, September 17 at 9:30 AM
The Port of Seattle will join with local nonprofit leaders and community members to announce new partnerships to support immigrants and refugees at a press conference at the Arrivals Hall on the baggage claim level of the main terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Also sponsored by OneAmerica and World Relief Seattle.

Citizenship Day Naturalization Ceremony

Monday, September 17 at 11:00 AM
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Citizenship Day Naturalization Ceremony at Waterfront Park, Pier 58. Celebrate citizenship with New Americans taking the oath to become U.S. citizens.
More information here.

Lumpia Fest

Tuesday, September 18 from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM
Spice up your work lunch with an order of scrumptious Filipino eggrolls! Show up at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 40th floor, SMT 4080 on Tuesday, September 18 between 12:15 PM to 1:15 PM and fill your plate! Every order helps FACES fundraise for college scholarships.
Sponsored by Filipino American Civic Employees of Seattle (FACES).

Kouyate Arts Dance Performance and Workshop

Thursday, September 20 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Join Kouyate Arts for a non-stop African song and dance performance and interactive dance workshop at Westlake Park (4th and Pine) in downtown Seattle.
Sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Outdoor Movie Screening: Underwater Dreams CANCELLED

Enjoy the movie, Underwater Dreams outside at Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown-International District neighborhood! This moving and insightful story is about undocumented Mexican immigrants who learned how to build award-winning underwater robots.
Sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Citizenship Day Seattle Citizenship Clinic (Central District)

Saturday, September 22 at 10:00 AM
OIRA and community partners are organizing this Citizenship Day Citizenship Clinic where immigrants can receive free assistance completing their naturalization applications from volunteer lawyers and interpreters.
Sponsored by Catholic Immigration Legal Services (CILS) and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.
More information here.


Below is a recent timeline of Welcoming City actions.

July 30, 2018
Frontpage of the 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 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 11, 2018
Frontpage of the 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 7, 2018
Frontpage of the 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 13, 2018
Frontpage of the 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 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 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 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 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 Committee meeting schedule.

More about the Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans 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
Washington Dream Coalition


The City of Seattle has partnered with Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union to offer low-interest loans for aspiring Americans.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union logo

In partnership with the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU) launched two citizenship loan products in June 2016 to help low-income immigrants and refugees pay for citizenship applications and increase access to banking services. More than 22,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) in Seattle are eligible to naturalize and more than half are low-income. Many eligible residents do not naturalize because they can’t afford the total $725 application fee (as of December 23, 2016). Learn more about these citizenship loans here.


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

For more information about Seattle's status as a Welcoming City, please contact the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Banner photo credit: Alabastro Photography.