Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Immigrant and refugee affairs

Issued bi-weekly by the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), an office within the Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations

Thursday, February 14, 2019

City of Minneapolis joins in Immigration Related Federal Litigation


The Minneapolis City Council recently authorized the City Attorney's office to join the City of Minneapolis as amicus in federal litigation consistent with City policy on immigration-related matters for Calendar Year 2019. The Council action is accessible here: The City Clerk's office will maintain a list of cases joined as amicus pursuant to this authorization. 

When a non-party lends written support to litigation initiated by another it is referred to as "amicus" or "friend of court."

One immigration related matter where the City of Minneapolis recently joined as amicus is Ramos v. Nielsen, a 9th Circuit case challenging the federal government's termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. Prior proceedings in this case, which Minneapolis also joined, already resulted in a preliminary decision that the federal government cannot terminate TPS for individuals from these countries, but the federal government has appealed. The recent amicus brief, joined by multiple municipalities in addition to Minneapolis, opposes the federal government's appeal.

OIRA Outreach: Immigration Forums and Seminars

OIRA participates in Continuing Legal Education and other presentations and seminars to share information about immigration law as well as City of Minneapolis Welcoming Policies, Programs and Initiatives that benefit immigrant and refugee communities.

OIRA is participating in the following upcoming Continuing Legal Education presentations:

OIRA has participated in the following recent presentations:

OIRA Outreach: Community Hours and Legal Clinics

Community Hours

OIRA holds community hours at various locations in Minneapolis. The purpose of community hours are to share information about the existence and mission of the office,  to inform community of immigration related issues and identify issues impacting communities, and to connect residents to legal service providers. Upcoming/recent community hours are Februrary 13 at Waite House and April 4 at Lao Assistance. 

Legal Clinics

OIRA also helps coordinate legal clinics, where immigrants impacted by federal government decisions and actions can meet with an experienced immigration attorney to understand their rights.  Upcoming clinics include one (today and on February 21) for individuals impacted by an I-9 audit of a local daycare and preschool, and another for Liberian nationals (in planning) who are affected by the federal government's decision to end the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program for citizens of Liberia.

Please contact OIRA directly for questions or to schedule community office hours or legal clinics.

Free legal clinics provided at the 2019 Community Connections Conference

2018 Community Connections Conference exhibit hall visitors conversing

The 2019 Community Connections Conference was Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year's conference included both a morning and afternoon immigration workshop as well as an all-day legal clinic, with attorneys from the Advocates for Human Rights, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Mid Minnesota Legal Aid and Volunteer Lawyers Network providing information and legal advice on immigration and family law.

Upcoming Events Calendar

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People's March will take place on Thursday February 14 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55404

A Liberian Immigration Rally will take place at the Minnesota State Capitol on Friday February 22, from 1-4 PM. This rally is an opportunity to show support for Liberian community members impacted by the federal government's termination of the DED program, which leaves individuals with no alternative immigration status at risk of deportation after March 31, 2019.

Please check the OIRA website frequently for additional events (especially for the month of February) at

January designated as Human Trafficking and Labor Exploitation Awareness Month

Mayor Jacob Frey designated the month of January, 2019 as Human Trafficking and Labor Exploitation Prevention month.The City of Minneapolis is committed to ending all forms of exploitation and trafficking to ensure that Minneapolis is a safe, secure, and healthy place for all – especially the most vulnerable. More information about the city’s efforts to fight human trafficking can be found here, and a recent article highlighting the City's work, including Trafficking Specialist Shunu Shrestha, is available here.

Immigration Related News

HF 739: Post Conviction Relief Bill introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives:

Post-conviction relief refers to a pathway to reopen a criminal case if there was a legal deficiency in the way the case was processed. Not being advised of the immigration consequences of a plea constitutes just such a problem, however in some circumstances, people who have experienced this legal wrong are not able to reopen their old criminal cases. This bill represents a state initiative to rectify this problem and potentially avert deportation from the United States.


DED for Liberians scheduled to end on March 31, 2019:  Now is the time to ensure that all Liberians who are impacted by the end of DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) are aware of the many resources available in the Twin Cities, to identify other immigration options that may be available to remain in the United States. There is an effort to pass legislation at the federal level which would provide a pathway to permanent residence for DED and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) recipients, and community organizers with local organizations such as Black Immigrant Collective and COPAL are in Washington DC this week advocating for a federal solution. Impacted individuals should reach out to OIRA for questions and assistance in identifying resources and actions. Recent local reporting on this issue can be found here.

US government forcing asylum seekers back to Mexico, Mexican government protests:

The United States is implementing a new policy, the Remain In Mexico Policy, forcing families who would otherwise have been permitted to enter the United States for asylum application case processing to instead wait in Mexico with a Notice to Appear until their full asylum case is decided. Volunteers at the border have  have heard accounts of the danger vulnerable migrants face in Mexico, from kidnapping to sexual assault to death threats. The National Lawyers Guild is organizing a delegation to the US/Mexico border in Tijuana (California) to investigate human rights abuses and international law violation in early March. NLG's December Report on conditions at the border can be found here. It was recently reported that attorneys who have gone down to the border had their passports flagged and were denied entry into Mexico.  It is important to be vigilant in calling on our federal government to respect and uphold our asylum laws.

Travel Ban Waivers--what can we do?

Since the Trump Administration’s Travel Ban was upheld by the US Supreme Court, many have experienced the hardship of indefinite separation from their loved ones. This subject was addressed in a recent editorial, and is an especially meaningful topic for Minnesota residents, some of whom are waiting to be reunited with loved ones who have applied for a waiver of the Travel Ban.The travel ban affects citizens of the following countries: Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and some government officials from Venezuela.  A helpful backgrounder on the travel ban and Supreme Court decision upholding it here. Impacted Minnesotans should reach out to OIRA for assistance in connecting to resources that exist in the Twin Cities area to elevate stories and identify solutions to prevent indefinite separation of family members.

Naturalization ceremony at state Capitol

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz congratulated new US citizens at a naturalization ceremony held at the state Capitol Rotunda on Monday (February 11), stating that immigrants quest for citizenship improves the state of Minnesota. Facilitating the ability of Minneapolis residents to apply for and obtain citizenship in a timely fashion is an objective of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. Please contact the office for information on naturalization support and outreach initiatives.

 Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus setting broad agenda

Rep. Kaohly Her, DFL-St. Paul; Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL-Brooklyn Center; Rep. Jay Xiong, DFL-St. Paul; and Rep. Tou Xiong, DFL-Maplewood,  Rep. Fue Lee, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, have now become the largest group of lawmakers of Hmong descent ever to serve the State of Minnesota. On Dec. 18 they announced the formation of the first Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus, with an agenda that will include a focus on immigration related issues, specifically addressing concerns about deportation of Southeast Asian Minnesotans.

Womens March 2019: The Womens March Minnesota, with an estimated 4000 people in attendance, took place on Saturday January 19. Immigration was one of the main themes of the March. Speakers included Representative Ilhan Omar, local immigration attorney, Kara Lynum, Minnesota Immigrant Movement leader Jovita Morales, and Montha Chum of Release MN8.

About this Bulletin

The Bulletin of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is published twice monthly and provides information on issues that have an impact on immigrant and refugee communities in the City of Minneapolis.

Please contact OIRA Director Michelle Rivero at, 612-673-6103 or 612-357-1875 if you have information you would like to share in this Bulletin or for comments or questions.

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact (add your information here including: department, contact person, phone and email). 

People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users can call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.