Seattle Foundation Blog

Seattle Foundation - City of Seattle Partnership Supports Immigrants

Focuses on protecting people at risk of deportation, particularly children

January 06, 2017

Today Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to support immigrant and refugee children in Seattle Public Schools and their families, through counseling and legal services, an Inauguration Day event focused on immigrant communities, and community education forums aimed at sharing information about immigrant rights and resources. Read the press release.  

This effort is the most recent step Seattle Foundation has taken to demonstrate its commitment to equity and opportunity for all those living in Seattle.   The announcement is also part of the $250,000 commitment Mayor Murray made in his Thanksgiving Executive Order reaffirming Seattle’s status as a welcoming city, and looks to leverage resources from partners in the philanthropic, non-profit and private sectors. 

Councilmember M. Lorena González joined Mayor Murray and Tony Mestres in the announcement.  Seattle Foundation committed Foundation funds to support the partnership and will work to raise additional support from the philanthropic sector. Online contributions can be made here and checks can be directed to Seattle Foundation, 1601 5th Avenue, Suite 1900, Seattle, WA 98101.

“Seattle Foundation stands with the City of Seattle in saying that no student, child or young person in our community should live in fear because of their family's race, religion or immigration status,” Mestres said. “This election season has left many of our residents wondering how they are going to find a path forward in this time of unrest and change. It is our collective responsibility to ensure there is a place for everyone on our community’s path forward, and that we do not leave anyone behind, especially our kids.”

There are four elements to the plan to be supported with these funds are: 

1. The Family Unity Project: This effort will consist of community education forums conducted in Seattle Public Schools and other venues, where community partners with legal expertise and experience working with immigrant students will offer information on the importance of power of attorney and resources for those in danger of or already in detention. As part of this program, trainings and technical assistance will be provided to Seattle Public Schools teachers, counselors and administrators, and attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project will respond to calls from students and parents in danger of being detained.

2. Counseling and Peer Support: Using successful counseling and peer support models, middle and high school youth from immigrant and refugee families, including DACA youth and Muslim students, will have access to a support group facilitated by a counselor from a community-based organization trained on the challenges faced by immigrant communities.

3. January 20 (Inauguration Day) Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families: This event at McCaw Hall will offer an array of free services and community education intended to support and protect families. Community education will include a training for Seattle Public Schools staff on how to best support students as well as a training for community members who want to be allies. Services provided with the support of community partners and volunteer attorneys include citizenship application assistance, Know Your Rights presentations, consultations with immigration attorneys, assistance from civil attorneys to complete power of attorney and other documents. Additionally, attendees will receive information about city, county and school services for immigrants, including voter registration, how to report wage theft, how to apply for utility discounts and discounted transit cards, and more.

4. Clear avenues for the public to report incidents of bias, hate speech and violence: The public can report incidents to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) via phone, email or web. In early 2017, the online reporting form will include a feature allowing residents to upload photos as part of their complaint and can be used to quickly document and report vandalism or other incidents. OCR’s Intake Investigator will review all complaints. If the incident is a crime, it will be referred to SPD. If the incident is related to immigration or other issues, OCR will refer to the appropriate government office or community organization.



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