City of Minneapolis

Immigrant and refugee affairs

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

City of Minneapolis launches first Latinx employee resource group: ¡SOMOS!

On March 15, the City of Minneapolis celebrated the launch of the first Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG): ¡SOMOS!  The celebratory program included cultural activities and remarks from Mayor Jacob Frey, Latinx executive sponsor City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde and City Council Member Alondra Cano.  Shortly after the launch, Councilmember Cano wrote in MinnPost explaining the importance of this new ERG for the City of Minneapolis.

¡SOMOS! means "we are" and "we are present" in Spanish.  ¡SOMOS! will work to improve the engagement and well being of Latinx city employees through networking and professional development. Additional goals are to provide support and resources, and to promote awareness and celebration of Latinx culture. Sign up to learn more about and stay up to date on ¡SOMOS!

Human Trafficking Expert, Shunu Shrestha, presents to City Council on City's Human Trafficking Prevention Work

Shunu Shrestha, the Senior Advisor for Human Trafficking Prevention within the City Coordinator's office, recently presented her work to date as a leader in the City's work to combat human trafficking, including labor trafficking, before the Enterprise Committee of the City Council. Ms. Shrestha also submitted a commentary that was recently published in American City and County Magazine.

OIRA Outreach: Community Hours and Legal Clinics

Community Hours/Immigration Forums

OIRA holds community hours/immigration forums at various locations in Minneapolis to explain the existence and mission of OIRA, to inform community of immigration related issues, to identify issues impacting residents, and to connect residents to legal service providers. Upcoming/recent events are below:

  • April 4 at Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota
  • April 29 at the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center (CROC) on Travel Ban Waivers (this event will be held in conjunction with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights)

Legal Clinics

OIRA also helps coordinate immigration legal clinics, where residents affected by changes in federal immigration policy can consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand their rights and options.  Upcoming clinics are below:

  • Saturday April 28, from noon-5PM, in conjunction with CAIR (Center for American Islamic Relations)

Please contact OIRA to receive additional information about upcoming community hours, immigration forums and legal clinics, or to discuss how OIRA can help plan an event in your community. 

OIRA Outreach: Immigration Presentations and Seminars

OIRA participates in Continuing Legal Education and other presentations and seminars to address immigration-related topics as well as City of Minneapolis Welcoming Policies, Programs and Initiatives.



Upcoming Community Events

calendar upcoming events

April 19: ACER 11th Anniversary Dinner

Since 2008, African Career, Education, and Resource Incorporated (ACER) has worked with African immigrants and communities of color in the north and northwest suburbs of Minneapolis to advance equity and eliminate disparities. On April 19th from 6:00 - 10:00 PM, Acer will hold a dinner to celebrate its 11th anniversary at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis North, 6300 Earle Brown Drive, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. For more information and to purchase tickets contact Acer directly.

April 4-20: Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

The 38th Annual Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival runs from April 4-April 20. MNSPIFF is one of the longest running film festivals in the nation and the screenings this year again span the globe. Download the complete schedule to learn more about the featured films.

April 20: Southeast Asian New Year Celebration

On Saturday, April 20 from noon-6PM there will be a Southeast Asian New Years Celebration with a festival at the historic Union Depot in St. Paul featuring dancers, musicians, cultural exhibits, hands-on arts & crafts, demos, food, games, and more.

April 29: Continuing Legal Education--Changes to the Public Charge Definition

The University of Minnesota Law School's Binger Center for New Americans presents a CLE seminar on April 29 from noon-1:30 on the subject of public charge entitled, "Changes to the Public Charge Definition."This seminar is useful for lawyers and others who are interested in learning more about the public charge ground of inadmissibility in obtaining permanent residence to the United States, and the US government's proposed rule (which has not yet gone into effect) which would radically change the analysis to expand the category of individuals who may be considered a public charge.

May 5: Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Sunday May 5 is the 20th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, which will take place on the West Side in St. Paul.  Cinco de Mayo is the traditional annual celebration of the 1862 battle of Mexico over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

May 20: Books for Africa Luncheon

Books for Africa is hosting a luncheon on May 30th from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM at the Saint Paul Country Club, 300 N Mississippi River Blvd, St Paul, MN 55104. This event is free and open to the public. The event will feature the Zambian Ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Ngosa Simbyakula.


May 20: Continuing Legal Education--Ensuring Access to Justice for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clients in the Immigration Context

This free bias CLE breakfast sponsored by the MSBA Immigration Law Section, the Pro Bono Committee of the MN/Dakotas AILA Chapter and Ballard Spahr LLP,  will provide information and best practices guidance for working with Deaf, Blind and Hard of Hearing clients, in particular those navigating immigration court proceedings.

June 20, 2019: World Refugee Day

June 20 is World Refugee Day. Did you know that the State of Minnesota has the highest number of refugees per capita in the nation and is the #1 state in the nation for secondary migration?  Please contact OIRA to share your story, experience and ideas to help us recognize and elevate our refugee history and culture this World Refugee Day. 

National Immigration Related News


US Attorney General Barr issues immigration decision impacting people detained at the border who request asylum in the US

On April 16, US Attorney General Barr issued a decision stating that asylum seekers detained at the border must remain jailed throughout the course of their immigration court proceedings, even for asylum seekers who are able to prove possible success with their asylum claims. This is an incredibly damaging decision, as people who remain jailed throughout the course of their immigration court cases are more likely to give up their asylum cases because of the emotional strain of being jailed indefinitely in combination with the increased difficulty in finding an attorney, and challenges in collecting evidence to support their court cases. Ways to challenge this decision include contacting members of congress to indicate opposition to this additional measure to prevent asylum seekers from obtaining refuge in this country.

Federal court halts termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Program for Haiti

In Saget v. Trump, a federal court judge on April 12 granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration, finding that the government's termination of the Temporary Protected Status program for citizens of Haiti was done in violation of US law.  TPS was set to expire for Haitian nationals on July 22, 2019, thus this injunction is an important and timely decision. More information about the background of this case can be found here.

Nationwide Preliminary Injunction Granted in Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen

Federal district court judge Richard Seeborg granted a request for a nationwide preliminary injunction in Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen, a case challenging implementation of the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols.”  This new policy forcibly returned certain asylum seekers to Mexico. The federal court decision prevents the federal government from continuing to implement this policy.

The Trump Administration has considered sending undocumented individuals apprehended at the border to Sanctuary Cities across America

A policy considered by the Trump Administration to send undocumented people detained at our southern border has been reported as a way to retaliate against Democrats. Given the many contributions made by our immigrant communities, coupled with drastic reduction in the numbers of refugees that our country is admitting (most recent cap set at 30,000, an  all time low), the opportunity to welcome more asylum seekers is one that our communities may want to actively embrace, especially amid  reporting of a sharp reduction in immigrant arrivals to the Twin Cities over the last two years.  

The Hill: ICE Agents Given Access to License Plate Database, Documents Show

The Hill reports that ICE has been using a vast license plate database over the past year to identify the location of vehicles associated with immigrants who don't have legal status. This report highlights the importance of protecting sensitive data.  

11th Hour Extension of DED for citizens of Liberia

The Trump Administration issued a memorandum indicating that Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for citizens of Liberia in the US would be extended for an additional year, until March 31, 2020. The decision was made three days before DED was set to end.  Instructions on filing extensions of DED are located at the USCIS Liberian DED webpage .  A detailed overview by the Congressional Research Service on DED and related immigration authorization Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was recently published. Liberians currently holding DED who cannot afford to hire an immigration attorney should know that many resources exist to consult with an immigration attorney regardless of ability to pay. 

AILA launches feature issue page which documents changes in USCIS Policy

Keeping track of the many ways that the current administration has changed immigration policy in the United States can be a challenge. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) launched a featured issue page to help track shifts in federal immigration policies.

City of Chicago proposes resolution calling on DHS to withdraw proposed public charge rule.

Late in 2018, the federal government issued a proposed rule on the subject of public charge, which would make it much easier to deny permanent residence ("green card") applications if applicants received certain cash and non-cash benefits from the government, including housing assistance and food stamps. This proposed rule has not yet gone into effect.  Many municipalities, including the City of Minneapolis, have submitted statements to the federal government strongly opposing this proposed rule.  The City of Chicago recently passed a resolution calling on DHS to withdraw the proposed public charge rule.  

New York Immigration Coalition releases comprehensive report addressing the impact of ICE courthouse operations in New York State

The New York State based  ICE out of Courts Coalition released a comprehensive report entitled, "Safeguarding the Integrity of our Courts: The Impact of ICE Courthouse Operations in New York State." The full report, a 1 page fact sheet, and press release detail the collaboration that led to the creation of this important document, which contains statistics from New York municipal district attorneys' offices, was recently the subject of an article in  the Wall Street Journal.

Local Immigration Related News: State Legislative Agenda

Several bills at the Minnesota state legislature this session. have a meaningful impact on immigrant and refugee communities in Minnesota. Some of these bills are summarized below, and can be accessed using the bill search link on the website of the Minnesota State Legislature.   

Drivers Licenses: This bill, authored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, would enable individuals to obtain a drivers license or state identity document regardless of immigration status. A version of this bill (HF 1500) passed the House of Representatives with a problematic amendment that would prevent any applicant from obtaining a license or state id if the applicant is listed in one of many disqualifying databases. A version of the bill, without the background check provision, is contained within the Transportation Committee Omnibus Bill, numbered HF 1555. 

U Visa Certification: This bill, authored by House Representative Ray Dehn, would require law enforcement officers to make a decision on U visa law enforcement certification requests (the first step to obtain visa status for immigrant crime victims who give help to investigators/prosecutors)  within 60 days, with 7 day turnaround required in emergency circumstances. The bill number is HF 2367, and the text of that bill has now been added to the Public Safety Omnibus bill, HF 2792. 

Municipal ID Data Protection: HF2374: This bill, authored by House Representative Aisha Gomez, would classify data submitted in order to obtain a municipal identity document as private. The Senate companion, SF 2348, is authored by Senator Scott Dibble.

Post Conviction Relief: HF 739: This bill, authored by Representative Carlos Mariani, would impact people who are facing deportation for old convictions that may not have satisfied requirements of due process. It would enable a court to hear a post-conviction relief petition where a petitioner is placed in immigration court proceedings, is detained, can show that removal from the US is more likely than not, or is prevented from acquiring an immigration benefit, such as citizenship or travel, due to the criminal conviction, so long as the petitioner files a claim within 2 years of the date a claim arises. The text of the bill has been added to the Public Safety Omnibus bill, HF 2792.

Nonprofit Focus: Minnesota Council of Churches

The Minnesota Council of Churches assists refugees in resettling to the United States. With the assistance of Board of Immigrant Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives, MCC also provides immigration legal services for eligible refugees and asylees after they have come to the US, including assisting in applications for permanent residence, US citizenship, and applications to be reunited with family members abroad. For more information on these services, contact Nina Vang at 612-230-3224. 

About this Bulletin

The Bulletin of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is published 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.