Mayor Durkan and Council President González denounce Supreme Court decision allowing Trump’s “wealth test” for immigrants to move forward

The City of Seattle is partnering to offer the first in a series of Rapid Response public charge info sessions

Seattle (February 4, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Council President M. Lorena González condemned the recent U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision that allows the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rule to go into effect while lower courts continue to decide on the rule’s legality. This policy, forwarded by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), makes it more difficult for low-income and working-class immigrants to apply for green cards and visas. According to USCIS, the rule will officially go into effect on Monday, February 24, 2020.

“This cruel and unlawful rule effectively imposes a wealth test on separated immigrant families, forcing them to choose between reuniting with their loved ones and accessing crucial government services like health care and housing assistance,” said Mayor Durkan. “In Seattle, we know that immigrants – whether they came here generations ago, or as recently as today – make our city and country better. I’m grateful to Council President González for ensuring the City has rapid-response funding ready to help educate and raise awareness around issues like public charge.”

“The effect of this ruling is to send waves of panic among countless households who are already being forced to take untold and desperate measures to keep their families housed, fed and together,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “The Trump Administration continues to use cruelty as a basis and motivator for his inhumane policies. This is not governing, but rather immoral and cannot be tolerated by the American people. In Seattle, we will continue to be a Welcoming City and to provide essential City services to all those who need it regardless of their immigration status.”

In response to this ruling, the City of Seattle, through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is partnering with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) to offer an information session about the public charge rule. The event is intended for health care workers, case managers, teachers/school personnel, community organizers, and anyone who serves immigrant and refugee communities.

This is the first of a series of workshops that OIRA is organizing in partnership with groups about the public charge issue. Later events will be intended for immigrant and refugee community members. This first information session will take place on Monday, February 24, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Seattle City Hall’s Bertha Knight Landes Room. Funding for these rapid-response events was proposed by Council President M. Lorena González as part of the City’s 2020 budget.

In the lead-up to the February 24 event, OIRA director Cuc Vu recommends that concerned immigrants and service providers access accurate facts to combat the fear that the federal administration is attempting to spread.

“There are three things I want immigrant residents of Seattle to remember about this very complicated public charge issue,” said OIRA Director Cuc Vu. “First, the public charge issue does not directly apply to you, if you are a newly naturalized citizen or a refugee/asylee or have a T- or U-visa or are able to apply for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Second, public charge does not apply to local City of Seattle programs, like the Utility Discount Program or Fresh Bucks. Third, our office is partnering with community organizations to offer information events about public charge. Our first event is February 24. Please go to our public charge web page for more information.”

NWIRP advises against disenrolling from crucial safety net services and programs. Many also caution against deciding to hold off on applying for green cards. Additionally, every immigration situation is unique. That’s why OIRA and NWIRP also recommend that anyone uncertain about their status or a family member’s status and/or use of benefits should access an immigration attorney or accredited representative for more information about this complex issue.

To RSVP for the Public Charge Information Workshop for Service Providers, please fill out this form: forms.gle/3zbrTyELmhmHX5DJ9. For more information about the City of Seattle’s ongoing work to dispel fear and uncertainty regarding public charge, go to: seattle.gov/oira/publiccharge.