Photos of Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs citizenworkshops by Alabastro Photograph.

OneAmerica was founded after the 9/11 attacks in response to the negative backlash against Muslim, South Asian, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities. We are now entering another time of increased fear and attacks on our communities, with an uptick in hate crimes locally and nationally. We will continue to collect new information, inform our communities and fight to keep people safe and protected.

As a result of what Trump said about immigration during his campaign and since his election, many fear mass deportations. However, there is no saying for sure what he will do when he enters office. Donald Trump has also discussed creating a registry for Muslim immigrants, similar to what was used in the administration of President George W. Bush. He has also discussed a ban on migration from certain countries with large Muslim populations, however there are no details on these proposals and it’s not yet clear what he will do when he becomes president.

Right now, the best thing community members can do is stay informed, know their rights, stay connected to organizations that provide legal advice, and organize to fight against any anti-immigrant policies. Everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status, has rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution. Knowing and asserting your rights can make a huge difference in many situations.

It’s also important to develop a safety plan and a financial plan with your family in case you are temporarily separated. People should avoid negative interaction with law enforcement. Any arrests, like a DUI or a drug-related arrest, can put you at risk for deportation. Attend a Know Your Rights training to learn more. Visit NWIRP’s calendar at for upcoming training dates and times statewide.

If you are eligible to naturalize, there are additional rights and privileges available only to U.S. citizens. We encourage those who are eligible to become U.S. citizens to do so as soon as possible. Citizenship is the only permanent protection from deportation. If you think you might be eligible, you should seek legal advice from an immigration attorney or a BIA-accredited nonprofit organization. Call the OneAmerica citizenship hotline for more information on how to become a citizen: 1-(877)-926-3924 (available in many languages) or visit

Seek legal advice from a certified immigration attorney or a BIA-accredited nonprofit organization. For a list of nonprofit organizations in Washington State that can provide low-cost legal advice and application assistance, visit You can also call the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project hotline (visit You can also do a free, safe, preliminary screening to figure out if you might be eligible for some form of legal status (

Beware of fraudulent immigration “consultants” or notarios who are not licensed to provide immigration legal advice. People unauthorized to practice law may try to capitalize on the fear and uncertainty of this political moment and take advantage of immigrants. For more information about how you can avoid scams, visit:

Document and report any incidents of violence, hate speech, or bullying. You can report to CAIR-WA by calling (206) 367-4081. When you call, leave a detailed message with your full name, phone number, and the reason for your call. If you would like to request an interpreter include the language needed. Visit their website for more information: If the incident took place in Seattle, contact the City of Seattle Office of Civil Rights at

If the hate crime or bullying happens at a school, it can be reported to the school or the ACLU-WA at (206) 624-2184. Ask your schools and institutions you work with to make statements confirming their commitment to protecting diversity and inclusive environments, and to being welcoming for immigrants and refugees.

Undocumented students might be worried about whether they are safe at school. Students should remember that immigration officials (ICE) are generally not allowed to carry out their duties in sensitive locations including schools, early learning settings, and places of worship under administrative policies adopted by federal agencies, but it’s possible these policies may change. Schools cannot ask about immigration status, and you should not share information about your status with anyone unless they are a trusted individual.

Undocumented students who have applied for financial aid using WASFA should know that while nothing is guaranteed, we have reason to believe that systems like WASFA will remain safe. Information gathered through the WASFA/FAFSA is protected under FERPA, which prohibits schools from voluntarily providing any outside agency information from a student’s school file. It is important to note that while it is unlikely, schools might be asked (or forced) to share information in certain circumstances. Students can visit for a list of trainings over the next few months by the Puget Sound College and Career Network (PSCCN) about financial aid for undocumented students and more.

OneAmerica will be working with our allies, including local municipal governments, community organizations, faith groups and the business community, to push back against any anti-immigrant policies that Trump’s administration may try to advance. We are heartened to hear that many cities, including Seattle, Edmonds and Burien, have voted to pass resolutions affirming their municipality’s support for immigrants and refugees. We will be holding a series of community conversations and Know Your Rights trainings over the course of the next year. We will need all the help we can get, so please stay engaged and connected to our work by visiting Visit our Facebook page at Follow us on Twitter: @weareoneamerica.

Pavan Vangipuram is the communications manager with OneAmerica.

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