People started lining up in Seattle several hours before the city’s big immigration workshop opened its doors at noon Friday.
The city planned the event to coincide with Inauguration Day to emphasize that Seattle would remain a welcoming city for immigrants and refugees under the Trump administration.
Some came from as far as Bellingham and Olympia to get help with citizenship applications, family safety planning for undocumented immigrants and other legal services.
A married couple drove to this event from Lynden, near the Canadian border. The husband is undocumented so they declined to use their name. They came here to get help with his citizenship application.
The wife translated as he described how legal status could change his life.
“He said he wouldn’t be so afraid to just walk freely,” she said. “He’d have more benefits, a better job. He’d be able to see his family back in Nicaragua. So he’s excited.”
The husband has lived in the U.S. a decade and said this is the first time he's sought legal help. Attorneys often charge thousands of dollars to help with citizenship forms. On Friday in Seattle, that legal help was free. The city aimed to help up to 1,000 immigrants.
Yaneta Hernandez came with her parents to get help with their citizenship application. "They want to stay in this country because all her sons and daughters, we are here," said Hernandez. And she wants to keep her family together.
More than 700 volunteers are on hand to help, including Wimsey Cherrington of Seatttle.
Cherrington said she’s concerned about stricter immigration polices under the Trump administration. And that immigrant families who’ve made a life here will be deported.
“An unexpected benefit of being able to do this today, being able to march tomorrow, being able to go to the World School on Monday and volunteer, being able to be volunteering next month is I’m happier. I didn’t expect that,” she said. “It’s given me happiness and joy that I wasn’t expecting.”