Metropolitan King County Council establishes Immigrant and Refugee Commission

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

At the meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council on Monday, January 29, 2018, the council proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in King County.

Councilmembers unanimously approved legislation that will provide legal representation to families for the inquest process when a family member has been killed or harmed by police.

Members also unanimously approved the establishment of a King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission.

In 2016, the Metropolitan King County Council accepted the recommendations of King County’s Immigrant and Refugee Task Force that evaluated the challenges facing King County’s growing immigrant and refugee community. Monday the Council voted toward acting on those recommendations with its unanimous approval to establish a King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission.

“We, as a County, are responding to the increased barriers immigrants and refugees may face by updating our policies, programs and procedures with a fair and just lens,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. 
“Following the recommendation of the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force by creating a commission ensures that we keep these residents in the forefront of our work, especially at a time when many of them feel threatened by decisions and actions made at the federal level.”

The goal of the commission will be to act as a central point of contact, communication, and coordination for all immigrant and refugee residents, and those serving and engaging with them. It will also focus on understanding and addressing challenges faced by immigrant and refugee communities living in suburban cities and unincorporated areas of the county.

From 2000-2010, more than half of King County’s new population was foreign-born, a number that continues to grow, with the majority of the population being located in communities outside of Seattle. The Council established the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force in 2015 and asked for recommendations that would assist the County in ensuring that these communities, in both urban and suburban/unincorporated areas, have the opportunity to successfully integrate and become “engaged, thriving members of the community.”

The adopted legislation calls for the creation of a commission that will:
  • Assist and advise the county and other levels of government on issues, programs, plans, funding and policies impacting immigrant and refugee communities,
  • Promote civic participation and government representation by encouraging application for employment within the county workforce by immigrant and refugee residents and representation of immigrant and refugee residents on boards and commissions,
  • Collaborate with organizations that implement programs to enhance integration, naturalization and English-language learning,
  • Increase public awareness of immigrants and refugees and their contributions to our community.

The commission will have thirteen voting members and four nonvoting members for three-year terms, with the exception of the inaugural term members whose terms would be staggered into three, two, and one year terms to ensure continuity of experienced members in the commission.

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system and type in “2017-0481”

Those interested in applying to become a commissioner should contact either their local community organizations or their member of the County Council, Rod Dembowski.

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