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Background

On Feb 27th, 2018 King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the County Council signed legislation creating an Immigrant and Refugee Commission, a permanent body committed to integrating, strengthening and valuing immigrant and refugee communities and upholding the county’s commitment as a welcoming community.

The Commission meets monthly beginning in fall of 2018, and will work to achieve fair and equitable access to county services for immigrant and refugee communities, improve opportunities for civic engagement, set annual goals, and participate in important dialogue on County policies and practices that impact the community.

To learn more about the details of Ordinance 18653 for the establishment of a King County immigrant and refugee commission please click here.

Mission

The Commission will work as a hub and central connecting place for building direct relationships with and supporting the vision for social justice for immigrant and refugee communities in King County.  The commission will enhance the integration of refugees and immigrants culturally, economically, and civically, in order to strengthen the communities where they live. The Commission will support refugees and immigrants to thrive and succeed while maintaining their own identities.


Scope of Duties and Annual Plan

The Commission will act as a hub to align work of a broad group of stakeholders to identify, elevate and develop shared strategies and solutions, streamline and strengthen efforts, and bring more resources to the most pressing issues affecting immigrant and refugee communities. To achieve this goal, the commission will: 

  • Assist and advise the County Executive, County Council, offices of assessor, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, and elections, and all other departments and divisions on issues, programs, policies, and legislation impacting immigrant and refugee communities;
  • Promote civic participation and government representation (including working to encourage hiring in County government, and representation on boards, commissions, and elected offices), of immigrant and refugee community members;
  • Collaborate with all levels of government to ensure effective outreach to and engagement of immigrant communities and refugee communities and advise on County’s role with other government entities;
  • Work with Equity and Social Justice Office to develop and review core principles on equity as they relate to immigrant and refugee communities in the context of King County policies and operations;
  • Assist with the development and implementation of King County policies and regulations protecting and impacting immigrant and refugee communities;
  • Evaluate County programs and services from the perspective of immigrant and refugee communities;
  • Increase public awareness of immigrants and refugees and their contributions to our community;
  • Help develop and/or review County plans to ensure that the interests of immigrants and refugees are given high priority.

Focus on Differing Needs in Suburban Cities and Unincorporated Areas

Given the importance of place as a determinant of equity and the accelerated growth of immigrant and refugee populations outside of the City of Seattle, the County’s immigrant and refugee integration agenda will  include a specific focus on understanding and addressing challenges faced by communities living in smaller cities and unincorporated areas of the County.