Immigration Bulletin

Immigrant and refugee affairs

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

Monday April 13, 2020


Welcome to the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) Bulletin.  In this bulletin you will find information regarding immigration developments and news on issues that impact immigrant and refugee communities in the City of Minneapolis.

Sign up for the OIRA Bulletin here.

Message from the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs on COVID-19 

Since Mayor Jacob Frey declared a public health emergency on COVID-19 almost a month ago today, our lives have changed in ways unimaginable a few short weeks ago.  Governor Tim Walz's Stay at Home order, which was recently extended to May 4, is saving lives and yet it has also significantly impacted how we work, (if we are able to work), how our children learn, as well as the accessibility of food, shelter, basic safety and companionship. 

From the creation of a Gap fund to provide financial support to residents and businesses regardless of immigration status to increasing cultural radio programming, to development of a Coronavirus resource page available in multiple languages, the City of Minneapolis works to ensure that all communities, including immigrant and refugee communities, have accurate and up to date information and access to critical assistance during this challenging time. 

The City's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), operating remotely, remains a partner, advocate and resource to communities impacted by COVID-19. The OIRA webpage is updated regularly with news about immigration developments, worker rights, and financial assistance among other subjects. To share information or request action or help, please contact OIRA at or 612-394-6018. 

City of Minneapolis Creates $5 million Gap Fund 

The City of Minneapolis has created a Gap Fund for Housing and Small Business to help lower income residents of the City of Minneapolis meet economic challenges relating to COVID-19. Information about this fund is available in multiple languages. Individuals may qualify for this support regardless of immigration status. Applications for small business support are accepted now through noon on April 20. More information about small business applications here.

 Grants for COVID-19 Community Support

Many funding organizations are offering grants support to organizations doing critical work, particularly in support of communities impacted by COVID-19. Several are listed here:


Immigration Related News

Twin Cities Mayors ask ICE to release Immigrants in Detention

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter each recently wrote letters to the local Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting release of detainees in immigration detention to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in county jails holding immigrant detainees.  ICE referred to its COVID-19 webpage, but as yet has not indicated that it will release immigration detainees. Department of Homeland Security subject matter experts have recommended detainee release as a measure to achieve physical distancing and the Minnesota Department of Corrections is contemplating release of nonviolent criminal detainees from Minnesota state prisons this week

If you are a resident of the City of Minneapolis with a family member in immigration detention in Minnesota, and you want to be connected to advocates working on this issue locally, please contact OIRA at

Bill introduced in Federal Legislature would suspend public charge rule

The Coronovirus Immigrant Families Protect Act would suspend the public charge rule as well as in-person U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) check ins and immigration detention and deportation for some vulnerable populations. It would also provide Medicaid coverage for individuals, regardless of their immigrations status, for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing and treatment. The bill would also allow immigrant taxpayers with individual tax identification numbers (ITIN) to access cash relief benefits and would provide additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer critical public health information in multiple languages to vulnerable communities. On April 3, the bill was referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Ways and Means, and the Judiciary. 

DED for Liberians Extended to January 2021

USCIS has extended Deferred Enforced Departure for citizens of Liberia residing in the United States until January 2021. Work authorization documents are automatically extended through January 10, 2021.  Liberian citizens are asked to remember that the Liberian Immigrant Refugee Fairness Act (LRIF) allows qualifying Liberians to apply for permanent residence, but only until December 20, 2021.  More information about LRIF here

ICE has expelled 10,000 migrants, including 377 children, since March 21

On April 7, Reuters reported that the United States has deported 377 migrant children since implementation of new border restrictions March 21 in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In that time, 10,000 total border crossers, including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children, have been either expelled to Mexico or put on deportation flights to their countries of origin. The reports confirm that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is following through with its March 30 statement that child border crossers who fear being returned to violence would still be deportable under the new restrictions. Under the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), unaccompanied children are required to be screened by CBP and quickly transferred to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for further care. 

ICE suspends some enforcement operations in light of COVID-19

On March 18, the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a notice on its webpage that it would suspend some routine immigration enforcement actions in light of COVID-19. ICE's statement can be found here

Some State Governors allow foreign degreed professionals limited licensure to combat health care workforce shortages

Pending federal action, governors of several states facing health care labor shortages due to COVID-19 are welcoming more foreign workers to increase their work force.  A recent executive order from Governor of New Jersey, for example, grants temporary medical licensure to doctors who are licensed and in good standing in foreign countries. 

COVID-19 and employment/work issues

Many community members have questions about their rights as employees impacted by COVID-19. Below is some basic information about employment and worker rights. This information and more can be found on the OIRA webpage.

  • Workers rights information from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry in English, Hmong, Somali, Spanish
  • List of contacts on various work related issues including unemployment, wage and hour, safety and health and more
  • Employer and Employee Frequently Asked Questions
  • National Immigration Law Center Resource entitled "Immigrant Workers Rights and COVID-19"
  • The City of Minneapolis has a wage theft ordinance to protect workers. To learn how to report a violation of Minneapolis labor standards, dial 311 or visit the violation report page


COVID-19 and Multilingual Resources

There are many resources available in multiple languages and formats, through City of Minneapolis channels as well as through our nonprofit, county and state partners. Some multilingual resources is available here, and information is added regularly to the OIRA webpage:

Recent COVID-19 Loss

The Somali community recently lost a celebrated musician, Ahmed Ismail Hussein, known as "Hudeydi" and "The King of Oud" to COVID-19. Mr. Hussein, whose obituary appeared in the New York Times, was living in London at the time of his death. He was 91 years old.


About the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is housed within the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. For more information about the work of this office, please visit us at, contact us directly at or schedule time during virtual office hours (see below).

Virtual Office Hours

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will be holding virtual community hours on Fridays from 3-4:30PM.  To schedule an appointment please contact Michelle by Wednesday of the week you would like to "meet" at or 612-394-6018.

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact:

 Michelle Rivero, OIRA Director

Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations or 612-394-6018

Visit our webpage at:

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.