Immigration in the Northwest | KUOW News and Information

Immigration in the Northwest

ICE community relations officer Melissa Nitsch (left) talks with community members
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A young mom with a stroller took a seat in front as about 50 people filled the pews at a church in Bellevue on a Thursday morning.

Many are immigrant advocates, and they came to talk with Melissa Nitsch, a community relations officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicle in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Kim Malcolm talks with reporter George Joseph about how federal immigration officials are able to directly access regional law enforcement databases, including Law Enforcement Information Exchange Northwest, which contains data from the Seattle Police Department.

KUOW/Liz Jones

In Seattle today, a panel of federal judges heard arguments on President Trump's second travel ban.

Following a lawsuit from the state of Hawaii, the ban was blocked in March by a lower court. At issue is whether that ruling should stand.

At a Seattle courtroom on Monday, in the latest battle in the legal war over President Trump's currently suspended travel ban, lawyers and judges pushed and pulled on the swirling questions over Trump's intentions and the legal limits on executive power.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from lawyers for the U.S. government and the state of Hawaii over the executive order that would block travelers from six majority-Muslim countries.

The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/4PxvK4

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill this week that bolsters legal protections for young, undocumented immigrants who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by their parents.

Osman Mohamed, of Somalia, and his three daughters, ages 2, 4 and 5. Osmon hoped to find paradise in Seattle, but in his first year, his family witnessed a shooting and he was hit by a car.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

The Kent Valley — Renton, Kent and Auburn —  is best known as the biggest manufacturing center in the state. But it’s also a hub for the region’s immigrant community. 

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

When people face deportation at a court in Seattle or Tacoma, and they don’t have an attorney, the immigration judge will often drop a name: The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The group’s legal staff provides free help filling out forms and translating documents – even if an attorney can’t take on the full case.


Two hands are painted on the wall mark the area where detainees are supposed put their own before they were processed at the former INS building.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

People may know about the immigration detention center in Tacoma. But one of the earlier detention centers was in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

It was built to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act that was signed into law 135 years ago this week. The law prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the country. 

An undocumented father outside the school where he works as a custodian.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

Kim Malcolm talks with Pew Research Center demographer Jeff Passel about new population estimates about undocumented immigrants in the United States. 

Flickr Photo/Jude Matsalla (CC BY-NC-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/drMj8G

Kim Malcolm talks with reporter Amber Jamieson about the green card lottery, which gives out 50,000 green cards each year through a lottery system. Jamieson, who's Australian, has entered the green card lottery for the past six years.

Immigrant rights march heads into downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Supporters of immigrants and workers rights rallied through Seattle on Monday as part of the annual May Day demonstration.

Most of the rallies were peaceful, but as of Monday night Seattle Police said they arrested 5 people.

Listen to a wrap-up from the days rallies and protests:


Marwal Frotan plays with his daughter Bushra in their Kent home. Frotan and his family moved to Seattle four months ago.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Many refugee resettlement agencies have been in limbo since the travel bans came out.


People begin to gather before a rally protesting President Donald Trump's travel ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Protests. Arrests. Executive orders stopped in court, revised and stopped again. President Trump's early immigration policies have rolled out in waves, crashing into government agencies and immigrant communities, leaving behind uncertainty, fear and unrest. 

KUOW Photo/Andy Hurst

Last week President Trump signed an executive order that could bring significant changes to the H-1B visa program, which lets companies temporarily hire a limited number of foreign workers. Created in 1990, the program is popular among local tech companies, especially Microsoft.


KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle area immigration attorney Luis Cortes knew this was a case he had to take. 

Volunteers help with citizenship forms.
KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

In two separate measures passed Monday, Seattle and King County set aside money for low-income immigrants who may need a lawyer or legal advice.

That would include people who face deportation, most of whom don't have an attorney.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicle in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Kim Malcolm talks with New York Times reporter Caitlin Dickerson about new regulations that would roll back health and safety standards for detained immigrants. 

Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A class action lawsuit says the company running an immigration detention center in Colorado is violating federal anti-slavery laws. It’s the same company that runs the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, scene of an expanding hunger strike.

South Lake Union neighborhood, home to many Seattle tech companies
Flickr Photo/Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/agMkfy

Kim Malcolm talks with Axios tech editor Kim Hart about recent rule changes to the H-1B visa program, and what they could mean for tech workers in the Puget Sound region.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Liz Jones talks with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson about the role of local governments in federal immigration enforcement. The Attorney General's office produced a document that lays out best practices and policies for police departments, schools, hospitals, and other public agencies.

Read the full document online here.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

When it comes to undocumented immigrants, what's your role as a city, school or hospital? Or cop?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicle in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Washington state’s highest-ranking judge is still waiting for federal immigration officials to write her back.

Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst requested that courthouses be off limits for immigration arrests. But that option will likely stay on the table for now.

Department Homeland Security

Federal immigration agents arrested 84 people in a Northwest sweep this past weekend. Most were in Washington state, and most had criminal convictions.


KUOW PHOTO/MEGHAN WALKER

Seattle officials are taking their support for immigrants and refugees a step further: They want to create a $1 million legal defense fund to help people facing deportation.

Seattle would join other cities that have created similar programs, including Los Angeles and New York, in reaction to stricter federal immigration enforcement.


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces a lawsuit against the Trump administration on March 29, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle will not be bullied into helping with federal immigration enforcement, Mayor Murray said on Wednesday. The city is taking the Trump administration to court over what it calls “an unconstitutional order.”


People who don’t have permanent immigration status and who’ve been victims of crime may qualify for a special visa.

Problem is, they’re often reluctant to come forward and report the abuse. Even if they do, law enforcement lacks guidelines for helping them.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

A federal showdown with sanctuary cities continues to heat up. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new warnings to jurisdictions seen as “uncooperative” on immigration enforcement, while officials in Washington state vow they won’t back down.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

About a dozen counties in Washington state are singled out in a new report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.  It’s the first of an ongoing weekly report that spotlights local jails considered “uncooperative” on federal immigration enforcement.

On Sunday, the Seattle Sounders were officially welcomed back to their home field for the first time after winning the championship last year.

The team may play under one championship banner now, but when they stand for the national anthem many players face a flag that is not their own.


Eat With Muslims co-founders Fathia Absie and Ilays Aden
KUOW Photo/Andy Hurst

Fathia Absie wants you to come to dinner. The Somali-American filmmaker and writer is co-founder of a Seattle-based project called Eat With Muslims, where Muslim families host dinners for people of all faiths and cultures.

On March 4, about 25 people gathered in the community space of a Belltown apartment building. The dinner was hosted by Absie and co-founder Ilays Aden. The mood was light and fun — like a dinner party.

Guests gathered to talk, but it wasn't a question-and-answer style event. Instead they answered questions as a group, like, "What's the most beautiful thing in the world?" and "What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Muslims?" 

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