Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
The goal of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is to ensure that Minneapolis is a safe and welcoming place for all. Our office is in the Department of Neighborhood & Community Relations, and supports the City's One Minneapolis goal to “eliminate disparities so that all Minneapolis residents can participate and prosper." Learn how we engage the many cultural communities of Minneapolis.
Immigration Update: July 12, 2019
News outlets report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may start enforcement operations in ten U.S. cities starting this Sunday. While Minneapolis was not listed by ICE as one of these ten cities, we know that reports like these cause fear. Minneapolis is a Welcoming City and we remain vigilant. OIRA is working closely with our immigration legal service partners to connect people to existing legal clinics, know your rights presentations, and community organizations that offer protection, advice and support when our community members need it most
Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender and Minneapolis Police Chief Medeira Arradondo have made their position on threatened immigration enforcement activity clear. A portion of their statement is excerpted below:
"The City of Minneapolis condemns any actions that would put our residents and families at risk or actions that instill fear in our community. The City of Minneapolis is a welcoming city that believes all people, including immigrants, are valuable contributors to society, vital to the success of our communities and to our shared future.
Minneapolis Police have not and will not cooperate with, nor participate in, any such ICE activity. Minneapolis officials are prohibited from taking any action to detect or apprehend people based solely on their immigration status. Our entire city is proud to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers, sisters and neighbors. Know your rights and discuss resources available through the Immigrant Law Center: 651.287.3715.
By replacing fear with knowledge, the City of Minneapolis works to make our communities safer. The City partners with legal service organizations to ensure that residents have access to competent legal information and advice, regardless of ability to pay."
Links below--Please Contact OIRA for additional resources
- Sample Motion to Reopen Instructions
- United We Dream video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=412576406002984
- ACLU of Minnesota: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/immigrants-rights/
- Finding an immigration lawyer in your area: https://www.ailalawyer.com/
- Additional Know Your Rights Resources:
- Mexican Consulate in St. Paul:
- (651) 334-8562 (Mexican Consulate Protection Line)
- (520) 623-7874 (24/7 Mexican Consulate Protection Hotline)
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota: 651-641-1011
- If you see deportation agents or someone at risk you can contact the MigraWatch Hotline at 1-844-363-1423 (Open 24/7)
World Refugee Day
One June 20, the City of Minneapolis recognized the strength, courage and perseverance of immigrants forced from home. OIRA participated in World Refugee Day at City Hall. Around 200 people came out to enjoy free food, dance, special guests and a discussion with local organizations on refugees and community solidarity.
- Mayor Jacob Frey, Council Members Phillipe Cunningham and Abdi Warsame.
- Dr. Xailong Yang of the Hmong Minneapolis Leadership Council.
- Khadija Ali entrepreneur and CEO of Global Language and Staffing.
- Gerardo Cajamarca of SEIU and Colombian activist for human rights.
- Alberder Gillespie, We Count census 2020 project coordinator.
- Ifrah Mansour and Hmong Qeej Rhythm Group Nuj Si Loob
Panelists from afternoon discussion on refugees and community solidarity.
- Sunny Chanthanouvong, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, Hue Pham, Vietnamese Social Services, Alfreda Daniels, Black Immigrant Collective, Fartun Weli, Isuroon, Ben Whalen, Minnesota Council of Churches (Refugee Resettlement), Gelek Namgyal, Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, and Betsy Fisher, International Refugee Assistance Project.
- We Count 2020 Census, Center for Victims of Torture, Isuroon, Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Affairs, International Institute of Minnesota, Blaisdell YMCA, Tibetan American Association of Minnesota, Lutheran Social Services, Minnesota Council of Churches, Vietnamese Social Services and the Office of Representative Ilhan Omar.
Important Immigration News
Applying for US Citizenship
Applying for naturalization, or US citizenship, is an important step for US permanent residents. US citizens have legal rights, including the right to vote, to obtain a US passport, and to sponsor a relative for immigration benefits. There are many legal service organizations in the Twin Cities area that provide information and legal representation for those who are interested in learning more about how to apply for US citizenship.
Information on how to qualify for and obtain assistance in applying for US citizenship:
- International Institute of Minnesota
- Mid Minnesota Legal Aid
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
- Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Services
- Volunteer Lawyers Network
Our principal responsibilities are to:
- Inform City leaders about federal immigration developments and advise on policy initiatives to support affected residents.
- Equip community members with information regarding immigration developments, positioning them to protect and defend their rights.
- Educate residents about existing resources to address immigration issues and other needs, whether through local government or through legal, social service or other nonprofit organizations.
The Office takes a proactive, coordinated, enterprise-wide approach to accomplish the following:
- Enhance the civic and social integration of immigrant and refugee communities.
- Promote economic development and ensure access to resources and programs within immigrant and refugee communities across Minneapolis.
- Collaborate with federal, state and local governing bodies, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders on immigrant and refugee issues, programs and policies.
- Advocate for continued immigration reforms at all levels of government to eliminate inequities.
- Provide relevant, accurate information and education—including community resources—to residents regarding significant issues that impact immigrants and refugees.
- Ensure that Minneapolis remains a welcoming city for immigrants, refugees and existing residents.
Responsibilities of the Office include:
- Educate policy-makers, City departments and the public on the needs of immigrant and refugee communities, and represent the City in the public discourse around immigration with constructive messages.
- Analyze the impact of City programs and policies on immigrant and refugee communities, and recommend improvements.
- Lead a multi-departmental team to create programs and activities that strengthen the City’s immigrant and refugee communities.
- Manage referrals to community organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, providing information and contacts.
- Support the establishment of an Immigrant and Refugee Commission upon approval of City Council.
- Build strategic, meaningful relationships with stakeholders and the larger community to advocate on behalf of immigrant and refugee families.
- Coordinate work with the department’s community specialists concerning immigrant and refugee initiatives.
- Support the City’s membership and activities with local, regional, national and international networks, collaborations and organizations.
Meet Director Michelle Rivero
Michelle Rivero is the Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, housed within the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. Michelle has been an immigration attorney for the last 18 years. Her work has included representing clients in immigration court proceedings (detained and nondetained), asylum applicants, crime victims seeking U visas, VAWA applicants (victims of domestic violence), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, applicants for US citizenship, as well as individuals petitioning for family members to come to or remain in the United States.
Community Engagement and Research
To build awareness and inform the work of our office, we have begun a community engagement process—interviewing stakeholders and convening community round tables. Information from this process defines our scope of work. We asked you what we should focus on and these themes emerged:
- Economic advancement
- Promotion of values
- Cultural work and healing
Last updated Jul 15, 2019