Meet the Director of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
Michelle Cecilia Rivero joined the City as Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs on July 9, 2018. Ms. Rivero, an attorney, brings more than 18 years of immigration law experience to the office, including work in cases ranging from U visa and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) petitions, to asylum applications and removal hearings.
Along with her immigration law experience, Rivero has received recognitions from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota for her pro bono representation of Central American families at the detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, which the association described as a “deportation mill” where detainees were deprived of phone access and legal representation. She volunteered at the Advocates for Human Rights, representing asylum seekers and mentoring volunteer attorneys. Also, for six years, she served as a liaison to the immigration court system, observed the conditions at removal hearings, authored articles defending the rights of immigrants, connected immigration attorneys with congressional representatives and provided pro bono assistance to detainees for the Minnesota Detention Project.
“Minneapolis has been – and will continue to be – a city that welcomes everyone,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “From our separation ordinance protecting immigrants, to U visas and ‘Know-Your-ICE-Rights’ placards in MPD cars, we are standing with our immigrant communities. After her experience with U visas and DACA petitions and the years of award-winning litigation under her belt, Michelle Rivero will help make Minneapolis a better city for everyone who calls it home.”
“I’m excited that NCR has brought on a director for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs,” said Council Member Abdi Warsame. “I have high expectations for this office and believe it can be a powerful City ally to our immigrant community. Immigrants are vital to the fabric and vibrancy of Minneapolis and we need to use the resources at our disposal to support them and their contributions to Minneapolis.”
Our Welcoming City
The City of Minneapolis recently joined Welcoming America, a network of cities and counties that foster an inclusive community and believe that, when everyone feels like they belong, communities prosper. Welcoming Cities believe that all people, including immigrants, are valuable contributors to society, vital to the success of our communities and to our shared future.
You can explore resources related to immigration on the City's #WeAreMpls page.
Municipal ID is one of the many initiatives Minneapolis is pursuing to make our city welcoming. The elderly, immigrants, transgender individuals, youth and families experiencing homelessness are a few of the residents who would benefit from a simple alternative to the traditional state ID or driver's license photo ID. Read more...
The Office will take 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.
Community Engagement and Research
The Office has already begun a community engagement process, interviewing stakeholders and convening community round tables to build awareness and inform the work of the office. The information we gather as we continue this process will be used to finalize our scope of work. In the meantime, the NCR department will lead on the ongoing immigration work for the City, including on topics relating to municipal ID and DACA. So far, NCR has engaged the community through:
East African Community Specialist Abdirashid hosting his Somali-language radio show.
- Conversations with the three funded community partners (Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, the Advocates for Human Rights and the Volunteer Lawyers Network).
- Workshops at the Community Connections Conference, an annual free event with 600-700 participants.
What we heard from you:
Through the community engagement that NCR has carried out so far, we asked you what the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs should focus on. These themes have emerged in the conversation.
|• Policy|| • Communications||• Economic advancement|
|• Strategy|| • Promotion of values||• Citizenship|
|• Advocacy|| • Cultural work and healing||• Housing|
Mexica Dancers at 2018 Mayor & Council Inauguration
Hmong Blessing from
Community Connections Conference 2018 Workshop
on Immigrants and Refugees