Category: Immigration

DACA Legal Clinics and Resources

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as of March 5, 2018.

Update – January 16, 2018: USCIS has posted instructions on how it will begin accepting DACA renewal applications in response to a federal judge’s decision. This only applies to individuals who already have had DACA granted in the past and not to people who would like to pursue initial applications. Here is a link to their announcement. In addition, the Mission Asset Fund has announced that they are accepting applications for scholarships to pay for the renewal application fee at this link.

What is DACA? What are Dreamers?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been a program established by President Obama in 2012 that granted a temporary protection from deportation known as “deferred action” to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, resided in the U.S. since June 2007, and met other requirements. The 787,580 people protected under this program have been referred to as “Dreamers.”

For more general information on DACA and Dreamers in the news today, check out this article from the Guardian.

What does this mean for folks living in Washington?

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has put together the following community advisory for community members interested in renewing their DACA applications.

City of Seattle DACA Resources – Several helpful resources from the City of Seattle

DACA Information – Spanish – Courtesy of Seattle.gov

DACA Information – Traditional Chinese – Courtesy of Seattle.gov

DACA Information – Vietnamese – Courtesy of Seattle.gov

DACA Information – Korean – Courtesy of Seattle.gov

About DACA and Employment – from National Immigrant Law Center

Mental Health Toolkit – from United We Dream

State Financial Aid for Undocumented Immigrant Youth – from Ready Set Grad

List of Scholarships that Don’t Require Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Permanent Residency – from Educators for Fair Consideration

DACA and Workplace Rights – from National Immigration Law Center

Deferred Action Policy Explanation & What to do NOW – from Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Understanding the Criminal Bars to Deferred Action – from Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Proceso de Accion Diferida a Favor de los Jovenes Indocumentados – from National Immigration Law Center & United We Dream Network

What Does Obama’s Directive on “Direct Action” Mean for Me? In Urdu, Korean, Chinese, Bengali – from Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund

Information from Federal Agencies

Updated Information from USCIS – from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Information Regarding Social Security Numbers and DACA – from U.S. Social Security Administration

Department of Education Resource Guide for Undocumented Students – from the US Department of Education

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the City of Seattle also have DACA webpages with current information, resources and listings of free legal clinics.

Contact Your Representatives

Stay in the Loop

For the most up-to-date information on the status of DACA, be sure to visit the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs DACA resource page.

City of Seattle, King County Announce Immigration & Refugee Legal Defense Fund Awardees

This article was originally published in The Seattle Medium on August 30, 2017. You can read the original version here.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine recently announced the community organizations that have been selected to use $1.5 million in funding, granted as part of the Legal Defense Fund, to provide legal aid to vulnerable immigrants and refugees.

Earlier this year, both the City and County passed legislation authorizing these funds for legal defense and community navigation services, as President Donald Trump threatened immigrant and refugee communities through both his inflammatory rhetoric and unconstitutional executive orders.

Funding was provided to organizations for the following services:

  • Direct Legal Representation – awarded to organizations that have an attorney on staff who is able to provide direct legal representation for low-income immigrants and refugees living in King County or working in Seattle who are in detention, facing removal, or in danger of losing their immigration status.
  • Community Navigation Services – awarded to organizations that can provide guidance and referrals for low-income immigrants and refugees living in King County or working in Seattle who are in detention, facing removal, or in danger of losing their immigration status.

“We are sending a clear, united message to the rest of the country – and to the world – that King County remains an inclusive community where all are welcome to build a better future,” said Executive Constantine. “The funding we announce today will help our partner organizations defend the human rights of more immigrants and refugees who contribute to the prosperity and vibrancy of our region.”

In November 2016, Murray responded to the federal administration’s anti-immigrant actions by passing his Welcoming City Executive Order, which reinforced the City’s already existing policy that employees do not ask about citizenship status and serve all residents regardless of immigration status. The order also mandated funding for peer support groups and counseling for immigrant and refugee middle and high school youth, legal assistance for immigrant families with children in Seattle Public Schools, and a comprehensive public awareness effort around reporting discriminatory harassment.

In March of this year, Councilmembers M. Lorena González and Tim Burgess joined with Mayor Murray in announcing their intent to pass legislation creating the fund. Seattle joins Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago as cities that have created programs to fund legal defense and other immigrant legal services. Unlike in criminal trials, individuals do not have a right to legal representation in immigration proceedings. However, studies have shown that people who were represented in U.S. immigration court were up to ten times more likely to obtain relief.

Over the course of two weeks, a panel comprised of members from the immigrant and refugee legal defense community, King County staff, and City of Seattle staff reviewed both written applications and oral presentations. Out of ten applications, five received awards. The award recipients for direct legal representation are Kids in Need of Defense, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo; and for community navigation services are the Filipino Community of Seattle, South Park Information and Referral Center, and the West African Community Council.

“I signed legislation in April establishing a $1 million-dollar immigrant Legal Defense Fund because immigrants are being targeted by a presidential administration that has embraced White Nationalism,” said Murray. “Today, with additional money from our partners at King County, we are awarding those defense fund dollars to community organizations like the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Kids in Need of Defense, and West African Community Council, because they advocate for immigrants every day in what’s now a larger fight to preserve core American principles of Democracy.”

The City now begins negotiating the contracts detailing each of the grantees’ scope of work. The grantee organizations are expected to start offering services under the Legal Defense Fund after September 30.

King County Welcomes All

King County government has recently released a poster supporting the motivation behind the County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2022.  As described by the County, the Strategic Plan “is a blueprint for action and change that will guide our pro-equity policy direction, our decision-making, planning, operations and services, and our workplace practices in order to advance equity and social justice within County government and in partnership with communities.” You can download a copy of this poster here.

Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice sends letter to Department of Homeland Security regarding immigration enforcement activities in Washington Courts

In response to a recent uptick in immigration enforcement activities around Washington courthouses, Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst sent a letter to Secretary John Kelly of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expressing concerns and possible solutions. Full text of the letter can be found by clicking here.

Citing reports from lawyers and judges about this increased presence, Fairhurst said, “These developments are deeply troubling because they impede the fundamental mission of our courts, which is to ensure due process and access to justice for everyone, regardless of immigration status.

Highlighting that the fear of apprehension, even for those with lawful immigration status, may deter individuals from accessing courthouses, Fairhurst said, “Our ability to function relies on individuals who voluntarily appear to participate and cooperate in the process of justice.”

“When people are afraid to appear for court hearings, out of fear of apprehension, their ability to access justice is compromised,” she said, adding, “their absence curtails the capacity of our judges, clerks and court personnel to function effectively…and risk making our communities less safe.” Lawyers report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities are occurring at courthouses in Clark, Clallam, Cowlitz, King, Skagit and Mason counties.

In addition to welcoming a meeting to discuss the issue further, Fairhurst encourages the Department to designate courthouses as “sensitive locations” – a term used by the Department of Homeland Security in Policy 10029.2 to guide and limit such activities in locations such as schools and universities, places of worship, community centers and hospitals.

While a “sensitive location” designation does not preclude enforcement actions on these sites, the policy states that these venues will generally be avoided to enhance the public understanding and trust to ensure people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services are free to do so without fear or hesitation.

Designating courts as sensitive locations will, “assist us in maintaining the trust that is required for the court to be a safe and neutral public forum. It will assure our residents that they can and should appear for court hearings without fear of apprehension for civil immigration violations,” wrote Fairhurst.

 

Read the original version of this article here.


Washington Courts Media Contacts:

Wendy K. Ferrell
Judicial Communications Manager
360.705.5331
e-mail Wendy.Ferrell@courts.wa.gov
Lorrie Thompson
Communications Officer
360.705.5347
Lorrie.Thompson@courts.wa.gov

University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center Launches #ImmigrationSyllabus

Earlier this year, immigration historians from across the country launched #ImmigrationSyllabus, a website and educational resource to help the public understand the deep historical roots of today’s immigration debates. Created in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and made available through the University of Minnesota Libraries, #ImmigrationSyllabus is a tool for teaching, learning and advocacy. #ImmigrationSyllabus is available online at immigrationsyllabus.umn.edu.

“I am proud to be collaborating with colleagues across the United States in this important initiative,” said Erika Lee, director of the Immigration History Research Center at the U of M. “With current debates and federal actions on immigration, understanding the historical context of immigration in this nation is more vital than ever.”

The syllabus seeks to provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship. The syllabus follows a chronological overview of U.S. immigration history, but it also includes thematic weeks that cover salient issues in political discourse today such as xenophobia, deportation policy, and border policing. Listing essential topics and readings and linking to historical documents and multimedia sources, #ImmigrationSyllabus helps answer important questions such as:

  • Who has come to the United States and why?
  • Why has immigration been such a hotly debated topic then – and now?
  • When and why did the U.S. start building walls and banning and deporting immigrants?
  • What were the consequences of those policies?
  • What’s “new” about new immigration to the United States?
  • What lessons might we learn as we move forward?

Part of a recent academic movement to respond to pressing current events, the #ImmigrationSyllabus follows the #TrumpSyllabus, which helped readers understand the Donald Trump’s political success during the 2016 Presidential campaign; the #FergusonSyllabus, which inspired conversations about race, violence and activism in classrooms; and the #StandingRockSyllabus, which heightened awareness of the Dakota Access Pipeline and placed the #NoDAPL protests into historical context.

 

Find the original article here.

New Online Screening Tool Helps Undocumented Immigrants Learn About Options And Find Free Legal Help

The day President Donald Trump announced plans to move forward with construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and restrict immigration from Muslim-majority countries, Matthew Burnett launched his nonprofit’s new online tool for undocumented immigrants.

The Immigration Advocates Network, where Burnett is director, has created immi.org, an online tool site that allows undocumented immigrants and those with temporary status to answer questions about their personal histories, helping them figure out exactly which protections, pathways to citizenship, or legal assistance they could be eligible for.

Approximately 1.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could be eligible for immigration benefits but do not know about it, Burnett said. And when they do navigate the complicated application process, it could cost up to $2,000 in lawyer’s fees.

“We need to be laser-focused on getting as many immigrants as possible aware of their options to protect their future,” he told Mashable. “If a benefit is available to get on the road to immigration or citizenship, they’re going to be protected from all those things we worry about.”

Most other immigration resources focus on filling out applications — not guidance on which applications people should actually complete. Immi.org takes care of the very first steps, helping anyone with questions about their immigration options figure out which path to pursue.

For example, someone who logs on to immi.org could discover that they are eligible for protections if they are a victim of certain crimes, a survivor of domestic violence, or from a country subject to civil war or natural disaster.

After answering the initial questions, the English and Spanish-language site then connects its users with local nonprofit legal centers and information on undocumented immigrants’ rights. As a security measure, any identifying information is collected separately from personal answers to questions about immigration status.

Along with undocumented immigrants, those with temporary status can figure out their next steps, and lawful permanent residents — such as green card holders — can learn about paths toward naturalization.

The only people who cannot use the site are potential immigrants who are not yet in the United States, or anyone who is already in deportation proceedings.

Supported by Open Society Foundations, the MacArthur Foundation and other donors, the civil legal aid organization Immigration Advocates Network started working on this project with the legal group Pro Bono Net about a year ago — before Trump even gained the Republican nomination for president.

If rules surrounding immigration change under the Trump administration, the site will adapt to ensure immigrants’ information is protected, and that its users are directed to their best paths forward in the United States.

“Our goal is to get information and resources available 24/7,” Burnett said.

 

Read the original article here.

Immigration “Know Your Rights” Presentation at Highline College

WHEN? Saturday, February 4th, 2017

WHAT TIME? 10:00am – 12:00pm

WHERE? Highline College, Student Union Building (Building 8), 2400 S. 240th Street, Des Moines, WA 98198

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) is organizing a community education event to discuss changes to immigration policy for this Saturday, February 4th, at 10:00am at Highline College in Des Moines. The community presentation will explain the new executive orders issued by President Trump and other changes to immigration policy. Learn about your options and your legal rights. Presentations will be available in English and Spanish. Attorneys will be available to answer individual questions.

Learn more & RSVP:

https://www.nwirp.org/know-your-rights-presentation-at-highline-college/

https://www.facebook.com/events/955801097854316/

“Este sábado: Presentación Sobre los Cambios a la Política de Inmigración”

“Venga a un evento donde explicaremos las nuevas ordenes ejecutivas del presidente Trump y otros cambios a la política de inmigración.  Aprenda acerca se sus opciones y sus derechos legales.  Tendremos presentaciones en ingles y español y abogados estarán disponibles para responder a preguntas.”

Sábado 4 de febrero, 2017

10 a.m al mediodia

Highline College

Student Union Building (Edificio 8)

2400 S. 240th St.

Des Moines, WA 98198