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

Friday, May 17, 2019

May is Asian-Pacific Island Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage month as designated by an act of Congress in 1992.   We commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (where the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants). There are many resources to learn more about our Asian and Pacific Islander community here in Minnesota, including Minnesota Council on Asian Pacific Americans the Asian Pacific American Resource Center at the University of Minnesota, and Asian American Organizing Project.

Vigil on the Minnesota State Capitol Lawn to Support Drivers Licenses for All

The Freedom to Drive campaign is working hard these last few days of the state legislative session, which officially ends on Monday May 20.  Supporters of the state bill that would expand the ability to apply for a drivers license or state ID to all, regardless of immigration status, have set up a tent at the state capitol (on the left if you are facing the capitol between the capitol and the state office building). The tent is staffed around the clock, and will be up until the end of session. If you support this initiative, please consider stopping by the tent to show your support, learn more about the campaign, and take a picture with a Freedom to Drive poster.  

Minneapolis City Council offers Resolution condemning Islamophobia

The Minneapolis City Council recently passed a resolution condemning Islamophobia. The resolution recognizes the history of the United States as a country founded by immigrants,  and addresses the increase in attacks on Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim.  The resolution condemns Islamophobia, expresses solidarity with the City's Muslim residents and indicates the City's resolve to foster a deeper understanding of Muslims and Muslim culture.

OIRA Outreach: Immigration Forums, Community Hours and Neighborhood Associations

Community Hours/Immigration Forums

OIRA holds community hours/immigration forums at various locations in Minneapolis. The purpose of these events are to share information about the existence and mission of the office,  to inform community of immigration related issues and identify issues impacting communities,  to connect residents to legal service providers, city offices, and additional resources, and to hear from residents regarding their concerns. Upcoming community hours/immigration forums:

June 6 at Lao Assistance, in partnership with Release MN 8, immigration attorney Mai Neng Moua and the Minneapolis Department of Human Rights

Neighborhood Associations

OIRA also visits with neighborhood associations to explain the mission of the office and the connections that OIRA can make between community residents and local resources in the city that are of benefit to immigrant and refugee communities. Recent Neighborhood association visits include:

May 15 at Nokomis East Neighborhood Association


Please contact OIRA director Michelle Rivero at to receive additional information about upcoming events or to schedule a visit in your community.

Upcoming Events



June 1: Minnesota Conference on Meaningful Language Access

See the full program for this first annual conference on Language Access here in Minnesota.

June 15: Run for Refugees

A 5K run will take place on June 15, with proceeds benefiting MORE, a nonprofit serving refugees and immigrants for 30 years.

June 20: City of Minneapolis Celebrates World Refugee Day

Contact the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for details

June 20: Human Rights Awards Dinner

Celebrate World Refugee Day by participating in this event, which supports the Advocates for Human Rights


Immigration Related News

Willmar Minnesota highlighted in recent New York Times op-ed

NYT Editorialist Thomas Friedman focuses on Willmar, Minnesota in a recent editorial  addressing how this rural community has benefitted from an influx of immigrants. The editorial highlights how Willmar has welcomed and integrated immigrants and reaps the benefits of welcoming policies, including virtually zero unemployment.  The article is entitled, "President Trump, Come to Willmar."

HUD proposes new rule impacting undocumented immigrants living with familly members in public housing

On May 10, the Department of Housing and Urban Development  proposed a new rule which would result in eviction of undocumented individuals in mixed status families (families with documented and undocumented family members) who live in public or otherwise subsidized housing. This proposed rule has not yet gone into effect.  As with any proposed federal rule, there is a public comment period, where anyone can say what they think about the proposal.  Public comments can be submitted using the above link and will be accepted until July 9. There are many resources to get a backgrounder before submitting your own comment. Please contact the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for more information.

2 1/2 year old Guatemalan child dies in federal immigration custody

CNN reports that this is the fourth Guatemalan child to die after a border apprehension since December.  It is hard to overcome the powerful emotions sparked by news of deaths in immigration custody. What can we do?  In addition to contacting our elected officials to express our opinions, including Senators and Representatives (find your congressional representatives here) we can also look closer to home.  Although children are not held in immigration detention in the State of Minnesota, adults are. This article sheds light on one of the facilities that contracts with ICE to hold immigrant detainees, Sherburne County Jail.



Nonprofit Focus: COPAL

COPAL (Comunidades Organizando el Poder y La Accion Latina--Communities Organizing Latin Power and Action) is a Minneapolis based immigrant-led nonprofit organization which assist immigrants in obtaining power and voice within our community, through helping community members obtain US citizenship to advocating for a federal legislative solution so that people holding Temporary Protected Status may remain in the US permanently.

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 Michelle Rivero, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations, 612-357-1875, 

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.