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.

August 10, 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.

Immigration Related Developments

Presidential Census Apportionment memo and federal court challenges

The United States President recently issued a memorandum to exclude undocumented immigrants in apportioning seats in the US House of Representatives. The Attorney General for the State of Minnesota joined a federal lawsuit challenging the memorandum as a violation of the United States Constitution, which clearly states that the count for apportionment purposes include all persons in the United States. Additional lawsuits include one filed by Common Cause. A Congressional Research Service backgrounder on the subject of apportionment and constitutional requirements to change the apportionment process can be found here.

Asylum applicant work authorization changes take effect this month-City of Minneapolis joins suit challenging change in procedures

New regulations impacting asylum seekers’ access to an Employment Authorization Documents(EAD) go into effect on August 25, 2020 if not halted by federal court injunction.  A summary of the key changes is contained here. The City of Minneapolis has joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general and 10 major cities and counties from around the nation in challenging the Trump Administration’s efforts to limit access to employment authorization for asylum seekers. More information about the pending federal litigation is available here.

2 cases of COVID-19 in immigration detention in Minnesota 

The Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) webpage indicates that 2 immigration detainees held in the Freeborn County jail have tested positive for COVID-19.  Freeborn County Jail is one of 4 county jail facilities housing immigration detainees in the state of Minnesota.   Following this news, the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs co-hosted an information session on COVID-19 and immigrants in detention. Please contact OIRA for details, or if you know someone in immigration detention who needs access to information and resources. 

Filing fee hike coming Oct. 2 for immigration applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase filing fees on many immigration applications and eliminate most fee waivers. This final fee rule will go into effect Oct. 2 unless halted by a federal court.

These major fee changes include increasing the cost to apply for U.S. citizenship to $1,170 and to apply for permanent residency (“green card” status) to $2,270, imposing a filing fee for the first time on asylum applications, and eliminating or reducing almost all fee waivers. These costs will create enormous barriers for immigrants and refugees trying to change or obtain immigration status for themselves and their family members.

If you are considering applying for immigration status, please take immediate steps to consult with a competent immigration attorney on filing an application before these fee hikes go into effect Oct. 2.

Department of Homeland Security issues memorandum restricting DACA program

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a new memorandum on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The memorandum represents a first step in changing DACA processing while the DHS decides how it will move forward after the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the way the government terminated the DACA program was unlawful.

This memorandum instructs DHS personnel to:

  • Reject all pending and future first time requests for DACA and refund filing fees for new applications received.
  • Reject all pending and future requests for advance parole.
  • Cut the DACA renewal/work authorization validity period from two years to one year.
  • Make decisions to end or deny deferred action in the exercise of discretion.

It is important to note that this memorandum does not end the DACA program immediately. Nevertheless, as the memorandum firmly closes the door on the possibility of new DACA applicants, and for many other reasons, the memo is likely to result in renewed litigation.

In the Minneapolis area, 2.5% of the immigrant population (1,625 people) are DACA eligible. DACA and DACA-eligible residents who cannot afford a private attorney should know that there are competent free legal services available in the Twin Cities area.

Find a list of trusted immigration legal service providers here.

Stricter ‘public charge’ rule halted, determinations revert to 1999 rules

The public charge test is an analysis of whether a person applying for permanent resident (“green card”) status is likely to become primarily dependent upon public benefits. If the answer is yes, the person’s application for permanent resident status can be denied.

A more restrictive “public charge” rule implemented this year has been halted by nationwide federal court injunction. No part of the new public charge rules are in effect, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as long as the July 29 injunction remains in place, it will use only previous 1999 guidance in making public charge determinations.

See the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notice describing its procedures in light of the injunction.

Trusted legal service providers are ready to offer free legal advice. People can call the Mid Minnesota Legal Aid hotline at 800-292-4150 with public charge questions. Please see the attached flyer for additional information. 

Where to get immigration assistance

For more information on immigration legal resources to assist with immigration questions, please contact the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, or see its list of trusted nonprofit legal service providers. The list ensures that residents have access to competent immigration legal information regardless of their ability to pay.

You can contact the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at or 612-394-6018.

COVID-19 Testing

Free COVID-19 testing events coming up Aug. 11 and 15

Minneapolis is offering free COVID-19 testing events Aug. 11 and 15. All are welcomed. The tests are available to people arriving on foot or by car.

Free COVID-19 testing focused on PICA Head Start families 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 Fraser Early Childhood Center, 700 Humboldt Ave. N. Sign up here now for an appointment, or call 1-855-612-0677 if you can’t sign up online or need a translator to sign up. Hmong, Somali and Spanish interpreters will be onsite.

Free COVID-19 testing focused on Latinx community members 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15 Incarnation-Sagrado Corazon Church, 3817 Pleasant Ave. S. Register onsite. Registration forms are available in English and Spanish. Spanish interpreters will be onsite. If you have medical insurance, please bring your insurance card.

Testing for other communities

If you are unable to attend one of these testing events, you can use this directory to find a testing location near you.

City of Minneapolis Updates

City Council declares racism a public health emergency

The City Council has approved a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency in the City of Minneapolis and committed to a series of action steps to dedicate more resources to racial equity work.

The resolution notes that “racism in all its forms causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, health, employment, public safety and criminal justice; exacerbated further by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis,” and “a multitude of studies connect racism to inequitable health outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), including cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high infant and maternal mortality rates demonstrating that racism is the root cause of social determinants of health.”

The resolution also highlights studies indicating that Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police as white people in this country and the killings of unarmed Black men are associated with an increase in depression and emotional issues for Black people. It also notes that Minneapolis has some of the “starkest racial inequities in the country” and ranks as one of the worst regions for racial gaps in home ownership, poverty, median income and obtaining a high school diploma.

The resolution commits the City Council and mayor to recognize the “severe impact of racism on the wellbeing of residents and the city overall” and to allocate funding, staff and resources to “actively engage in racial equity in order to name, reverse, and repair the harm done to BIPOC.”

Read the resolution.

Polling places changing due to pandemic

For those voting in person on Election Day, 50 of 125 polling places in Minneapolis are moving for the 2020 primary and general election to help keep voters and Minneapolis residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes will help protect people living in residential facilities and provide more space to keep voters a safe distance from elections staff and each other.

Of the 50 polling places being relocated, 16 were in senior homes, high-rises and other residential sites. Another 32 were in areas with limited space that would make it difficult for people to keep at least 6 feet from others inside. Two were moved due to onsite construction.

Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation board to find new locations for voting during the pandemic. In total, 94 buildings will be open for the Aug. 11 primary and Nov. 3 general elections, with 35 in schools and 22 in park buildings. Some buildings will have more than one voting precinct.

Registered voters will receive a postcard in the mail indicating their new polling locations. The Minnesota Secretary of State’s polling place finder can also provide voters their new polling places. These locations will be the same for the Aug. 11 primary and Nov. 3 general elections. All voters choosing to vote in person on Election Day should check the online polling place finder or call 311 to verify their polling place.

For those going to the polls on Election Day, we will have COVID-19 protocols in place to provide a safe and healthy environment for all voters and election judges. The polling place protocols follow best practices from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, the protocols follow Emergency Regulation 2020-12, which requires people in Minneapolis to wear a cloth face covering when they are in an indoor public space.

About the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is an office in the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. For more information, please visit, email, or call 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 612-263-6850.

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