All posts by Ray Garrido

KIAC Responds to the COVID-19 Crisis

Information about Immigration Court

USCIS Information

COVID-19 is now impacting us here in Kitsap County. We want to let you know that in these times of uncertainty, the safety and health of our clients, volunteers, staff, and the wider community are our highest priorities. 
KIAC’s response to this unprecedented occurrence is guided by our ongoing commitment to our mission—to work for the well-being and empowerment of immigrants though education, advocacy and social justice. At the same time, we know that it is more important than ever to work together as an entire community.
With these thoughts in mind, KIAC has taken the following steps:

  • We are making client education and informational resources about COVID-19 a top priority, using guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf Washington State Department of Health https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus and the Kitsap Health District. https://kitsappublichealth.org/CommunityHealth/CoronaVirus.php
  • We are working to fast-track our capacity to reach clients via texting in order to better and more efficiently serve and inform
  • In order to do our part to “flatten the curve” as is being recommended by the CDC and health experts across the country, our office is closed except in the limited circumstances noted below. Staff and volunteers are working from home and conducting business as usual, utilizing email, phones and video conferencing
  • For Family Services, we will assist clients via video and phone conversations as much as possible, with in-person appointments as necessary with healthy individuals.
  • We are taking responsible steps to insure the health and safety of clients and staff who come into the office. This includes initial screening for COVID-19 symptoms; asking clients to wash their hands before being seen; serving clients only in the Family Services lobby and office, without access to the rest of the office; limiting the number of people allowed in the waiting area at one time in order to allow for recommended personal space; and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing in between clients and at the end of the day
  • Legal clients and Tax clients are being offered video and phone consultations. A plan is in place to keep in touch with Accredited Representatives and tax volunteers and to keep current with all deadlines and office procedures. We are working with USCIS, ICE and the Immigration Court to make sure all our clients’ due process rights are protected.
  • Tax extensions will be offered to tax clients

We may need to call on you for financial, volunteer or advocacy support during this time. There will be an immediate impact placed on KIAC’s resources to help with client needs. We know that the ramifications of COVID-19 will hit our clients very hard—immigrants will be among the most vulnerable population during this crisis.  Many of our clients lack health insurance, paid sick days, child-care, and language skills to navigate complex and constantly shifting recommendations. Many are likely to lose their jobs.
From its beginnings, KIAC has been committed to the well-being of immigrants, and we stand ready to help during this crisis. We are so grateful to our friends for standing with us.

With gratitude,
Sally Tellekson
Executive Director, Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center

Althea Paulson
Board President

Annika Turner
Family Services Director

Ray Garrido
Legal Services Director

Ninth Circuit reinstates Injunction against “safe third country”

The Ninth Circuit has again stopped the administration from making people who arrive at the southern border, from a country other than Mexico, apply for asylum in the first country they entered on their way to the US. Several people have already been returned to Guatemala (an alleged “safe” third country) to apply for asylum there. Of course the administration will appeal this ruling but we maintain hope.