The following is a statement from The Metropolitan King County Council.
The Metropolitan King County Council today approved funding that will invest in the capacity and resiliency of the incredibly important immigrant and refugee communities in King County. The funding will be directed toward programs that inform and support immigrants and refugees on everything from legal resources, outreach efforts to informing them of their rights, and capacity building for community based organizations serving and educating their communities.
“Immigrants and refugees are an integral part of the fabric of every community, this is an investment for all of King County,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “This legislation will provide relief for both immediate and emerging needs of these communities, with an immediate distribution of funds for legal aid and education combined with a funding partnership with the Seattle Foundation to leverage these dollars with other public and private partners to have an even bigger impact for at-risk communities. This is an important step as we continue to ensure our county is a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”
“I have always believed our legislative efforts should advance equity, reflect social justice, and promote safety in our region,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor of the legislation. “Historically and presently King County has been and is made up of immigrants and refugees and we must stand together today and always.”
In the wake of an increasingly hostile environment at the federal level for immigrants and refugees, King County remains committed to being a welcoming and inclusive County. Proposed by the Council and County Executive Constantine, the adopted legislation allocates funds, which comes from money unspent in the County’s 2015-2016 Budget, to invest in community based organizations serving immigrants and refugees.
“This funding is a critically needed shot in the arm,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “We are working to ensure that for the thousands of residents in our community fighting for citizenship, there is a fair and just road in reaching that goal, without fear of punishment.”
The funds will be distributed in three main areas:
- $300,000 to support organizations that are providing legal aid to the increasing number of immigrants being forced to navigate immigration proceedings;
- $100,000 to support organizations that ensure culturally accessible, relevant information is readily available – efforts such as holding ‘Know your Rights’ trainings for interested communities, and learning opportunities for members outside of ethnic communities to learn about the cultures of their neighbors.
- $350,000 to partner with the Seattle Foundation to develop the “Resilience Fund,” a collaborative fund into which other public or private funders can invest to enhance the capacity and resiliency of community based organizations in at-risk communities.