An effort to help immigrants become citizens in new city budget | KUOW News and Information

An effort to help immigrants become citizens in new city budget

Nov 18, 2016

Seattle's city council will vote Monday on whether to approve the Mayor's proposed 2017-2018 budget. The $5.3 billion plan covers everything from homeless services to policing, and more. One small item is intended to help immigrants, who face uncertainty following the presidential election.

Earlier this year the city's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs started hosting citizenship workshops. They provide guidance and legal advice on how to become a U.S. citizen. Under council member Lorena González' addition to the budget, the city will host the workshops more often. They will be every month instead of twice a year.

González: "We understand that the diversity of immigrants and refugees in our city is an asset. And we want to make sure that immigrants and refugees are able to naturalize and become U.S. citizens so that they can vote and be part of our civic process."

She proposed money for the workshops before the election. But says she feels they are more important than ever, since President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to roll back some protections for people without legal status.

González: "You know the ultimate protection in that context is to become a U.S. citizen. If you become a U.S. citizen, the changes in those immigration laws become irrelevant."

González' legislation will cost $150,000 a year over the next two years.

The city council will vote Monday afternoon on the entire budget package, including the new money for citizenship workshops.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray says that Seattle will remain a safe place for immigrants during the Trump administration.