DACA is Available!

Jan. 13, 2018, Update: Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.

If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request.

Our legal services team can help you. Call us at (360) 616-0479 or Espanol (360) 616-2722. Or EMAIL US

Martitha MayMartitha May, long-time Executive Director and Family Services Director at Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center, has decided to move from KIAC.

Martitha May was a co-founder of KIAC and brought expertise, a deep commitment, and a great heart to serving the immigrant community in Kitsap County. She leaves a lasting legacy in the services that KIAC Family Services provides and with the families whose lives she has touched.

KIAC will miss her and we wish her every success in her future endeavors.

To carry on the work of the Family Services Center to which Martitha has been so dedicated, KIAC will be conducting a search for her replacement in January.

KIAC Family Services will be open for its regularly scheduled hours starting on the 16th of January.

Read the letter from Republican Congress Members Supporting DACA

Talks of a March 5th deadline are misleading and wrong. The deadline is now. The repeal of DACA has created an urgent crisis. More than 11,000 Dreamers have lost their work permits and deportation protections since President Trump eliminated the DACA program on September 5th, and 122 more will continue to fall out of status every day until Congress passes a permanent legislative solution to protect them. After March 6, 2018, that number will skyrocket to roughly 1,700 Dreamers who will become priorities for deportation every single work day.

There are enough bipartisan votes from both Democrats and Republicans to protect Dreamers in both the House and Senate. Moderate Republicans in the Senate and House have said they want to get a DACA fix done before the end of this year. Senate Republican leadership and the White House have given a firm commitment to work on a “legislative solution to provide fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.”

The Dream Act has broad bipartisan public support: In poll after poll, the American public favors permanent legalization for Dreamers.

The economic benefits of passing the Dream Act are clear:

  • Passing the Dream Act would add at least $281 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) over a decade, and as much as $1 trillion over a decade.
  • Removing DACA-recipients (or ending DACA) would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade.
  • Ending DACA means that between March 6th & November 6th of 2018, the U.S. will lose 300,000 jobs.
  • 800 companies have called on Congress to pass legislation supporting Dreamers, including War-Mart, Target, and PepsiCo.

You helped reunite a family

You may remember that I asked for your support to help us represent people who are in immigration removal proceedings. Your support helped reunite a family on Thursday.

This family’s story is not unique

Aurelina came to KIAC asking for help in September. Late last year she, her husband and three children fled persecution in the form of violence, severe discrimination, and extortion in Guatemala. They had been preyed upon for ten years by a gang, suffering repeated death threats and beatings because of their Mayan heritage. Upon reaching our border they were placed in removal proceedings, meaning our government wanted to send them back. ICE arrested her husband, Cristobal, when the family went to their monthly check-in in September and took him to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma for expedited removal proceedings.

KIAC stepped in with legal assistance

As soon as we heard about this we filed to be Cristobal’s legal representatives and filed for him to receive a credible fear interview to establish the veracity of his persecution. We represented him in his interview and the asylum officer validated his claim. That was just the first step. He would still have to appear before an immigration judge who would determine whether or not to deport him.

Our legal team of Ray Garrido and Lirio Webb, with help from Dr. Marsha Cutting, built Cristobal’s defense case. With help from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Cristobal and Aurelina as he leaves the Northwest Detention Center

and advocates around the country we filed a 225-page trial brief. On November 30th in a courtroom at the detention center, we argued his case for withholding of removal. The judge ruled in Cristobal’s favor! His case was so strong the government decided not to appeal it, so the judge’s order was final. At 4pm that day Cristobal walked out of the detention center into the arms of Aurelina. Shortly after, he was reunited with his children.

Our work for this family is not done

Aurelina, Cristobal and their legal team

Because of your support we accessed training that enabled us to represent Cristobal, secure his freedom, and reunite him with his family. But our work is not done. Aurelina and their three young children are in removal proceedings and we will apply for and represent them in their asylum hearing. We won’t rest until they have all been granted justice.

Currently KIAC has only one representative who can represent people in immigration court. There are so many more people who have no representation. We want to help as many as we can. We want to tell you many more stories like Cristobal’s.

You can make the difference. There are so many people like Cristobal and his family who need your support.  This is a time of year when we reunite with our families to celebrate holidays.  So as you gather with your family, think of the Lopez’s joyful reunion and those still yearning for one and give generously to KIAC to make more reunions possible.  Thank you.

Read more about the Lopez family’s reunion in this Kitsap Sun article:


ACTION – Stand With Detained Immigrants!

This message is from our partner at OneAmerica, Rich Stolz, Executive Director

When OneAmerica member Elizabeth first entered the Tacoma Detention Center in 2009, her heart sank. She saw an overcrowded, dirty cell filled with scared immigrants just like her – mothers, daughters, sisters and brothers. She felt outraged that a private company, the GEO Group, was profiting from their suffering.

“It was very crowded and very dirty,” she said of her conditions in detention. “I felt like we were being treated like livestock. The guards used any opportunity to shout at and curse us.” Elizabeth described being forced to do manual labor at the detention center for $1/day and constantly fearing being placed in solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons.

We know this isn’t right. And today, we have the opportunity to fight for justice for Elizabeth and the tens of thousands of immigrants currently incarcerated in immigrant detention centers.

Act now and tell your representatives to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act!

Sponsored by Representatives Pramilia Jayapal and Adam Smith, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would end the use of for-profit immigration detention centers, stop arbitrary detention quotas and provide much-needed accountability to a detention system that has routinely been accused of terrorizing and brutalizing detainees.

Elizabeth saw some of that behavior firsthand.

“One particular lady was from Canada,” Elizabeth said. “She went to the guard and told the guard, ‘I’m from Canada, I’ve been here for months, please just deport me. I can’t stay here anymore.’ She was put in solitary confinement. She stayed in a small cell, and she had to be taken to a shower in chains. That made us terrified to say anything. We knew we’d receive the same treatment.”

Stories like Elizabeth’s are why we need the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act. No one should go through what Elizabeth did, but every day, tens of thousands of immigrants do.

Please join us in calling on our representatives to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, and help ensure that our immigration detention centers are accountable, and that no one profits from the suffering of our communities.

Take the profit out of immigration jails, say WA congress members

A detainee in solitary at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. KUOW PHOTO/MEGAN FARMER

Immigration detention is a booming business in the U.S., mostly run by private, for-profit contractors. A new bill in Congress aims to phase out these private facilities, including the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

“One thing I am 100 percent confident of is that there is a cheaper, more humane way to treat the undocumented population in our country,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington).

On Tuesday, Smith and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) plan to introduce legislation that calls for an overhaul of the immigration detention system.

Currently, 90 percent of federal detention is outsourced to private contractors or local jails and the regulations vary from place to place.

“There’s no accountability,” Jayapal said. “There’s no transparency. And people are literally making a profit off of people being put into detention. I think it’s important for the public to understand that it’s costing them a lot of money when there are a lot of alternatives.”

The legislation calls for the Department of Homeland Security to take over ownership and operation of all detention facilities within three years.

The bill, called the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, would also create higher standards at detention centers – standards for medical care, legal services, and basic living conditions, among other things.

A recent series of detainee hunger strikes have called attention to these issues at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma and at other immigration jails around the country.

More than 350,000 people were held in detention last year, and the 2018 federal budget projects a 70 percent increase.

“The bottom line concern is that detention facilities are not regulated by the federal government in the same way that federal prisons are,” Smith said.

Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelley defended the standards while testifying to Congress in May.

“ICE detention standards are well beyond the standards that even the Federal Bureau of Prisons has in terms of prisoner housing and care,” Kelly said.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson declined to comment on pending legislation, but information on the agency’s website describes an ongoing rollout of new standards to all of its facilities. However, some facilities are still using standards that have not been updated since 2000.

In 2016, a Homeland Security advisory subcommittee reviewed the use of private immigration detention facilities and evaluated whether this practice should be eliminated. The report compared private facilities to those run by ICE and found private facilities are cheaper to run and necessary to meet capacity demands. However, the committee ultimately recommended a shift away from these for-profit jails.

According to the report, the average cost of a day in an ICE-run facility is $184.35 per person versus $144.23 in a privately-contracted detention facility.

Yet Jayapal said the proposed legislation would ultimately lead to cost savings, since it carves out limits on who can be detained and for how long. For example, the bill would create a category of “vulnerable persons,” including pregnant women and primary caregivers, who could qualify for alternative community supervision programs instead of detention.

Smith said he’s not naïve. He knows how Congress works. And he knows it’s a longshot to even get a hearing on this bill, given the Trump Administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

“It’s unlikely, but we’re going to put it in their face,” Smith said. “We’re going to keep pushing this issue because we have people here in this country who are being treated inhumanely.”

More attacks on refugees

Everyday we work to help people fleeing life threatening conditions in their home countries. The administrations latest heartless policy is another example of their disregard for people in need. The message below, from the Migration Policy Institute illustrates how this policy will harm our sisters and brothers. – Ray Garrido

The Trump administration’s decision to cut the fiscal 2018 refugee resettlement ceiling to the lowest level since the program was created in 1980 marks a departure from the United States’ traditional leadership on refugee matters.

In a new commentary, Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow Kathleen Newland examines the 45,000 allocation for the fiscal year that begins October 1, and the security, fiscal, and other arguments advanced to explain the cuts.

She also looks at controversial new selection criteria designed to assess refugees’ likelihood of “successful assimilation and contribution to the United States.” Noting that the resettlement program was created to respond to the urgent needs of those persecuted in their homelands, she writes: “The refugee program is supposed to respond to their needs, not ours.”

For more on the U.S. resettlement program over its history, check out this handy data tool that shows U.S. refugee resettlement ceilings and actual admissions by year since 1980.

Ending DACA is wrong but inaction by our Congress would be even worse

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program freed hundreds of thousands of young people from the fear of being deported to countries which many of them don’t remember and where they would be in danger. It also gave them the ability to work legally and get an education. I have known dozens of these young people. They all shared one characteristic – hope. They believed they were in a country that cared about them and that was willing to take steps to give them the opportunity to become contributing members. And they did. They went to school, got jobs and started careers. They engaged in their communities. They were realizing the term that has been given to them – Dreamers. Over the last four years KIAC’s legal program has helped many young people realize this dream, and we’ve help them renew their status so they could continue this positive journey.

Now the Administration has decided to exclude Dreamers in our country and has ended the DACA program. This action will have a devastating effect on the Dreamers, their families, friends, schools, and employers. While the authority exists to undo a previous president’s executive order, he could also let it continue. Instead he adds to the fear in the immigrant community by targeting hundreds of thousands of young people for deportation.

We now ask the Congress to undo this heartless act and pass legislation that will restore protection to the Dreamers and provide a way for them to become full citizens of the United States instead of living in a political limbo. There are several bills in congress addressing this.

We at the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers and in this trying time we will provide support to the dozens of Dreamers in our community to help them through this struggle.

We encourage you to contact your congressional representatives: Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Derek Kilmer.  Encourage them to support legislation that will undo this heartless political act.

Here are their contact links:
Senator Maria Cantwell: https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact/email/form

Senator Patty Murray: https://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme

Congressman Derek Kilmer: https://kilmer.house.gov/contact/email-me

Ray Garrido
KIAC Legal Services Director

The End of DACA?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) condemned reported plans that the Trump Administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a six-month enforcement delay. This decision would leave the lives and dreams of nearly 800,000 hardworking DACA recipients hanging from the thread of an unspecified, hoped-for legislative solution. Congress has several legislative alternatives to consider, such as the American Hope Act and the Dream Act, which have been introduced by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress that would protect the Dreamers. The President should endorse these proposals and ensure a solution is passed before terminating the DACA program.

“Dreamers are the embodiment of the American dream. They were brought to this country as children and have made this nation their home, often contributing in powerful, meaningful ways,” said Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President. She continued, “Nationwide Americans believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay, but President Trump is signaling his disregard for the voting public and exploiting the vulnerability of the Dreamer population in order to keep campaign promises. This is not, as the president promised, treating Dreamers with ‘heart’; it is heartbreaking and shortsighted. The president is bowing to anti-immigrant pressures from his advisors. Congress needs to act and act now.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “Year after year, Dreamers have been championed by the American public because granting legal status to these young people is not only the right thing to do, it also benefits our society and our shared prosperity. Threatening this group of aspiring Americans with deportation from the only country they know as home is reprehensible. A decision to terminate the DACA program would be an abrogation of President Trump’s executive responsibilities. The time for further discussion is at an end. There is growing bipartisan support in the House and Senate for granting these young people permanent residence. Congress must move forward on legislation immediately, and in the meantime, the American public must resist every attempt to end this program.”

Every immigrant deserves a lawyer

By Sarah Burr

An excerpt from a NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, May 28, 2017

“As a former immigration judge in New York, I have come to understand a difficult truth first-hand: Far and away, the greatest obstacle to administering justice in immigration proceedings is the fact that, unlike in criminal proceedings, people have no right to an attorney.

Which means that every year, across the country, thousands of immigrants — most of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, contributing members of society — face the prospect a lifetime of exile from their homes, families and livelihoods in the United States without the aid of counsel.

It is hard to overstate what an obstacle that lack of representation can be for those immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security, the agency representing the government, has attorneys prosecuting every immigration case — which is why they win, almost every time, when the immigrant has no lawyer.

Yes, judges have the obligation to aid unrepresented immigrants by explaining their rights to them and informing them of potential relief from deportation But a judge is not an advocate and cannot investigate the facts of the case, interview witnesses, assemble exhibits and research legal arguments — all of which a competent attorney does in the course of representation.

Under these circumstances, especially when taking into account frequent language barriers immigrants face, it is impossible to level the playing field where one party has no lawyer.

This situation took a dramatic turn for the better in 2011, at least here in New York City. That year I joined the steering committee of an ambitious project to improve access to justice for immigrants facing deportation in New York City. We developed a blueprint for what became the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project — the nation’s first public defender system for detained immigrants.

Over the last three years, NYIFUP has guaranteed that every indigent immigrant who is detained and facing deportation in New York City will have a city-funded lawyer. I witnessed a sea change in the quality and quantity of legal representation in the detained court.

The success rate for immigrants represented by counsel has increased tenfold. And when immigrants have no viable claim for relief and are able to consult with an attorney, they can simply accept an order of deportation, sparing themselves extended detention and the government extra expense.”

This is why KIAC Immigration Legal Services is training

KIAC partners with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to provide needed legal services to vulnerable immigrants. The Justice Department’s action is a threat to all of us.

Thank you KIAC Donors

We are overwhelmed by your outpouring of support for KIAC during the Great Give

145 Donations were made to KIAC totaling $14,841

We are inspired by the strength and courage of our immigrant clients


We are inspired by you, our community of supporters, who welcome and assist them.

KIAC’s programs to help immigrants overcome the multiple challenges they face depend on this support.  It is more than just the financial support that keeps our programs moving. It is knowing that we have a welcoming, supporting community surrounding us.

Thank you so much for your support.

Fear and Hope

The intensity of the situation continues to weigh on our immigrant brothers and sisters. We’re hearing stories of kids afraid that they will come home from school to find their parents gone, parents afraid to send their kids to school, people afraid to go to the store to buy food, people not showing up to appointments with service providers – all because of the fear that has been generated by the administration’s executive orders and resulting policies.
While we can’t discount those fears, we can do something to help people. Since the beginning of February we have given eight Know Your Rights and Family Preparedness workshops covering 573 attendees in Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties. By helping people understand their rights under our constitution, we give them some power when they are confronted by ICE. This knowledge may also help to defend them if they are placed in removal proceedings. By helping them plan, we give them some control over what will happen with their kids and assets if they are detained or deported. We don’t enjoy doing these workshops but they are a necessary and important part of our advocacy.
As we do these workshops we’re meeting lots of people who want to help. Groups are starting up in Jefferson, Kitsap, and Mason counties to support and advocate for their immigrant sisters and brothers. We’re inspired by the response of people who want to organize around immigrant advocacy. We’re meeting with these groups to help them organize and provide training and support.
We are also heartened that several groups are contacting their elected representatives to encourage them to state their support for diversity in our communities by passing Welcoming Community resolutions. It certainly seems like citizen participation is on the rise.
Five dedicated volunteers have just completed the comprehensive overview of immigration law and we expect to apply for their accreditation by the end of the month. This will greatly increase our ability to serve.
So, despite the attempts by some to drive us apart, I am seeing our community respond with energy, support and love. This is what will keep us together and get us through this challenge.
As always we need your support to continue this work. Please consider donating.

2/25/17 – Hundreds gather on the Manette bridge This is what you call Community
Thanks to the Kitsap Daily News for these photos

A KIAC Activity Update

We now have a clear idea of what life will be like for our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers under this new administration. I’m sure you’ve heard about the ICE raids across the country. Closer to home reports have increased about ICE presence in our area.
Your offers of support whether through volunteering or financial donations are very much appreciated and enable us to continue our work.

Earlier this year I shared with you our planned positive steps to support and advocate for immigrants in our community. Here are some of the activities we are accomplishing.

We are building coalitions among immigrant, refugee and Muslim-serving organizations, including partnerships with labor unions, school administrators and educators, social service providers, local governments, businesses, elected allies, and progressive leaders within the LGBTQ, environmental, racial justice and women’s movements. Some examples are our partnership with Goodwill. We’ll conduct Know Your Rights workshops and legal clinics for their students beginning in March. We’re partnering with the YWCA to promote social justice here in our community. And we started working with Jefferson County’s new Immigrant Rights Group to support their advocacy activities.

Our Family Services and Legal Services staff and volunteers are conducting Know Your Rights presentations in schools, churches, and community centers throughout Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, and Jefferson counties. This information helps people understand their rights and how to exercise them. We also talk about family emergency plans to help them plan for themselves, their families, and their children in the event of an ICE raid or their being placed in detention.

Our legal team helps Legal Permanent Residents prepare and apply for citizenship. Many of them are understandably concerned about their status and want to protect themselves. In general, we are contacted by many people reacting to the fear generated by the administration’s recent actions. We are preparing to increase our capacity by becoming able to represent people in immigration court. People with representation, especially children, have a five times better chance of not being deported. Representation is key.

We have presented draft Welcoming Community resolutions to Kitsap city and county governments and actively advocate for them to pass these resolutions. Becoming a more welcoming community means more customers for our local businesses, more jobs created by immigrant entrepreneurs, and a thriving economy that benefits us all.
By recognizing the contributions that we all make to creating a vibrant culture and a growing economy, we make our neighbors feel more included and our community more welcoming to new Americans and to everyone who calls our community home.

We remain committed to our mission to empower, educate, and integrate immigrants through advocacy and social justice.

We are all responsible to uphold basic human values of civility and justice. The current administration will be gone one day and our communities will still be here striving to make our counties and our nation stronger, more welcoming and more just.

We appreciate and need your continued support. Although much of our work is done by volunteers we still need financial support to continue. To make donations click here. If you make your donation recurring it will help even more.

Ray Garrido
Legal Services Director

PS – don’t forget our April 1st benefit – Evita. Click here for more information

We Are Moving Forward

Despite the activities of the administration we are moving forward with positive actions to aid our immigrant sisters and brothers and continue to build our communities through inclusion. Our ten point plan is aimed at protecting the vulnerable, keeping families together and building a strong and inclusive community.

  1. Increase outreach to enable all eligible immigrants to attain legal status
  2. Educate vulnerable populations about their rights and resources
  3. Help vulnerable people develop readiness plans
  4. Increase resources to defend immigrants, especially minors, in immigration court
  5. Maintain or increase accredited representative resources to continue our high rate of affirmative applications
  6. Encourage city and county law enforcement to limit their cooperation with ICE
  7. Develop and propose Welcoming Community ordinances to Kitsap city and county governments
  8. Help immigrant business owners register their businesses, file/pay taxes, and improve their business skills
  9. Participate in encouraging immigrant friendly state legislation
  10. Work with other agencies to develop an alert network

We are asking all Kitsap County city and county governments to pass a Model Welcoming City or County Resolution that proclaims our values as a community and sharing the reasons for why that’s important.

We are also working with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that their policies include immigrants as partners in keeping our community safe.

We are reaching out to vulnerable communities to help them understand their rights under out Constitution and to prepare for the dangers that the recent executive actions place them in.

A Misguided Policy

Policies that attempt to punish cities for trying to promote safety are severely misguided.

We all want safer communities, and cities with sanctuary policies do so to protect public safety. By maintaining positive relationships between local law enforcement and immigrants, communities become safer for everyone.

Studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to report crimes or cooperate in criminal investigations if they fear potential deportation as the result of routine interaction with local law enforcement.

We will continue to work with local authorities to support safety for everyone in our community.

Many Welcoming Cities and Counties have instituted policies and practices to protect public safety and maintain positive relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities. Some of these actions are seen as sanctuary policies. However, there is no legal definition for a “Sanctuary city.”

A commonality among cities that have adopted sanctuary-type policies is a desire to resist changes in the law that would require local criminal law enforcement agencies to do the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws. Many do this by preventing local officials from asking people about their immigration status. Other cities refuse to use local resources to detain immigrants.

The main purpose for these types of policies is to comply with constitutional requirements and to protect public safety by maintaining positive relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

More than two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants​ ​have lived in this country for more than a decade, and are important contributors to our communities, schools, and workplaces.

Parents​ ​become​ ​less likely​ ​to send their children​—even U.S. citizen children—to school in areas that have seen heavy enforcement. All children have a​ ​constitutional right​ to attend school in the United States, and local officials should not take steps that undermine this cornerstone of the educational system.


Statue of Annie Moore and her brothers on the quayside in Cobh, Ireland
Statue of Annie Moore and her brothers on the quayside in Cobh, Ireland.
Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

Two Irish Girls Who Made It to New York

By MAEVE HIGGINS DEC. 30, 2016 NY Times Sunday Review

In January 2014, a girl from Cobh, Ireland (formerly known as Queenstown) journeyed across the Atlantic, skipped rosy-cheeked off an airplane at John F. Kennedy International Airport to start her new life. That was me, compensating for my indoor ghost face with too much blush in a shade aspirationally entitled “orgasm.” In January 1892, a girl from Queenstown (now known as Cobh) skipped rosy-cheeked off a boat at Ellis Island to start her new life. That was Annie Moore, flushed with embarrassment at the unexpected fuss being made of her by the officials on the island. She was the first immigrant through the new processing center that opened its doors on Jan. 1 of that year.

I know she was rosy-cheeked, because this very paper said so, back in the day. I’m only guessing as to the reason. Maybe she wasn’t mortified by the attention, and the redness was simply caused by the icy wind whipping through the harbor. Maybe she just lit up with the anticipation of seeing her parents for the first time in years and the relief of no longer being her little brothers’ sole guardian, as she had been on their voyage. I have no idea. I grew up knowing all about the people that left my hometown, but nothing about what happened next.

Cobh is an island in the mouth of Cork Harbor, the departure point for more than two million Irish people between 1845 and 1945. It was the last place the Titanic stopped before it, well, I don’t want to ruin the movie. While other children went to amusement parks, our school trips were to replicas of coffin ships, so named because of the death rate onboard as they transported people to America during the Irish famine. My classmates and I filed into the wooden bowels of a ship to listen to audio of people groaning, and look at wax figures leaning over buckets. So you see, this whole leaving thing, it’s in me.

I came here on an O-1 visa — I’m an alien of extraordinary ability. That ability is doing comedy and persuading friends who do voice-overs in cartoons to write letters to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, vouching for me. Annie was an unaccompanied minor without documents and she sailed right in. I think about her, and me, and the people who were simply born here, and the people who die trying to get here, and the people who have lived here since childhood, who are American in every way save paperwork, but without any path to citizenship. I mean, the sheer dumb luck involved in it all! I try to make sense of it in a podcast in which I interview a new person each week about their immigration story.

Annie Moore’s story was told to me by the genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who is an expert in Annie’s journey. Annie lived her whole life in America just a couple of miles away from Ellis Island, on the Lower East Side. She lived with her parents and brothers before marrying a clerk in a bakery. They had some 10 children, but only five made it through to adulthood. Can you even imagine burying your children like that? No. I tuck that part away in the “she must have been different from us, with fewer feelings” folder, the delusional one full of current stories from far-off places, too sad to bear. Annie died at 50 years old. Family lore says her coffin was too wide to fit down the narrow stairs of her tenement house, and had to be hoisted out the window.

Not to boast, but I gained weight when I moved to New York, too. It was the citywide availability of soft serve that did it. On Thanksgiving, I went for a wander around Annie’s old neighborhood, and peeped into St. Mary’s, the local church founded by Irish immigrants, rebuilt after being burned down by anti-Catholic nativists in the 1830s. By the time Annie arrived, the Irish had a surer footing in the city’s political and social life. They were clannish, looking out for their own. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m glad that they made it, but sorry they often stood on the backs of other marginalized communities to do so.

What else has happened in the 125 years since Annie Moore arrived? Well, the ban on Chinese immigrants has been lifted, and a ban on Muslim immigrants threatened. Catholic churches are no longer being set alight by nativists, but synagogues and mosques are being vandalized by people on the same tip. A man whose own mother walked through the same Ellis Island doors as Annie campaigned for the presidency by slamming immigrants at every turn, and he won. We’re hearing echoes so loud they’ve become the sound of today.

I went home for the holidays. I still call Ireland home, but America is my home, too. I stood on the darkening quay side in Cobh on Christmas Eve, and looked at a statue of Annie there. She seems small and capable, her hands lightly resting on her little brothers’ shoulders, gazing back at a country she would never see again. An Irish naval ship had returned to the harbor earlier that week from its mission off the Mediterranean coast, a mission that has rescued 15,000 people from the sea since May 2015, though 2016 was still the deadliest one for migrants crossing the Mediterranean since World War II.

On my flight home to New York after Christmas, I imagined meeting Annie today. I’d make a pot of tea and tell her how her family turned out so far. She never made it out of the city, but her descendants are spread across the country — actors and doctors and financial consultants and stay-at-home parents, with Jewish and Latin and Asian blood mixed in with her own. Then I’d explain to her loudly and slowly how to rate and review my podcast on her smartphone or tablet.

Annie Moore never made a fortune, or wrote a book, or invented a computer, and why should she? Why should immigrants be deemed extraordinary to deserve a place at the table? She did enough. She was just one woman who lived a short life, a hard one. And she lives on today, not just in her descendants. She lives on in every girl arriving from a country shot through with rebellion and hunger, and in every immigrant that gives America her humanity.

Washington state community, technical college leaders appeal to Trump for continued protection for DREAMers

December 09, 2016 by SBCTC Communications

OLYMPIA — Washington’s community and technical college leaders sent President-elect Donald Trump a letter asking him to preserve an executive action that allows young undocumented adults to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. The letter was signed by the nine members of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and presidents and chancellors of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.

The letter responds to Trump’s campaign promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program launched in 2012. The program allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before they turned 16 to receive temporary protection from deportation. It also grants them eligibility for a renewable two-year work permit.

“These students work hard to better their lives and that of their families. They are among the brightest and most dedicated students we have. We want to be sure they receive the quality education they deserve,” said State Board member Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney.

The letter stressed the return on students’ K-12 education investment taxpayers receive if these students are allowed to complete their educations and enter the workforce. There is no return on that investment if those students must leave the country, the letter said. Additionally, the letter stated, many employers need bilingual and bicultural employees to compete in a global market.

“We have an unflinching commitment to open education, diversity and inclusion,” said Gary Oertli, president of the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges and of South Seattle College. “We believe everybody should have the opportunity to learn, expand their horizons and lift our communities.”

The state Legislature in 2014 passed the REAL Hope Act which allows undocumented students to apply for state financial aid. It also passed legislation in 2003 that allows undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.

We don’t know what is going to happen, or how, or when, and that very uncertainty is the space of hope. In the spaciousness of uncertainty is the space to act.

Rebecca Solnit

Taking this to heart we have developed a 10 point response to the president-elect’s 10 point immigration plan.

  1. Trump’s 10 point immigration plan images
    1. Build the wall
    2. End “catch and release.”
    3. Create a deportation task force and focus on criminals in the country illegally
    4. Defund sanctuary cities
    5. Cancel President Obama’s executive actions
    6. Extreme vetting. Block immigration from some nations
    7. Force other countries to take back those whom the U.S. wants to deport
    8. Get biometric visa tracking system fully in place
    9. Strengthen E-Verify, block jobs for the undocumented
    10. Limit legal immigration, lower it to “historic norms,” and set new caps

KIAC Immigration Legal Services’ 10 point immigration plan michelle_the_riveter_yes_we_can_png_poster-rf3a17a49e0914d3992f071aa16c4df43_wvk_8byvr_630

  1. Increase outreach to enable all eligible immigrants to attain legal status
  2. Educate vulnerable populations about their rights and resources
  3. Help vulnerable people develop readiness plans
  4. Increase resources to defend immigrants, especially minors, in immigration court
  5. Maintain or increase accredited representative resources to continue our high rate of affirmative applications
  6. Encourage city and county law enforcement to limit their cooperation with ICE
  7. Develop and propose Welcoming Community ordinances to Kitsap city and county governments
  8. Help immigrant business owners register their businesses, file/pay taxes, and improve their business skills
  9. Participate in encouraging immigrant friendly state legislation
  10. Work with other agencies to develop an alert network

We will use hope and action to protect our sisters and brothers.



When we got a call that the Bremerton Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a few backpacks filled with school supplies to donate to KIAC we were very thankful. When they arrived we were blown away. The “few” turned out to be 100. As you can see, they filled one of our legal offices. And made two girls, as well as their parents, very happy. They are just the first of many.

So many of the families we backpacks2work for struggle to make ends meet and a resource like this really helps. Most importantly it helps the kids start the school year on the right foot. We are so appreciative of this donation and for the effort it took to put it together. It’s heartwarming to have the support of the members of the Bremerton Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thank you!


DACA at Four: Coalition report highlights success and gives recommendations to enable greater participation CLINIC PRESS RELEASE
SILVER SPRING, MD—The Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation’s (CIRI) Advocacy Working Group released a report today chronicling existing successes of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and making recommendations that would enable greater participation. More than 725,000 people have been able to improve their lives since DACA was implemented, and DACA can still benefit nearly one million more individuals. CLINIC, a founding and steering committee member of CIRI, co-authored the report DACA after United States v. Texas: Recommendations for the President, which focuses on how DACA has helped improve the lives of recipients, their families and communities.

The report comes at a crucial time for the administration in light of the Supreme Court’s failure to issue a definitive ruling in United States v. Texas. The ruling lead to an indefinite delay of the expansion of DACA and a similar initiative for parents. Tremendous misinformation about the status of DACA has followed. This report makes clear that the current DACA initiative, created in 2012, still exists.

“We are happy to be able to issue a report at this time that notes the great success of DACA, one of the most successful humanitarian immigration initiatives to date. We also believe this report presents an opportunity to suggest to the administration ways it can keep that success going by further engaging other eligible populations and removing barriers to access,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC advocacy attorney and advocacy working group co-chair.

Among the report’s top recommendations:

  • Increase access and improve processing efficiency by allowing applicants to present diverse forms of evidence to prove eligibility.
  • Make DACA more affordable by expanding access to fee waivers and allowing applicants to use credit cards to pay filing fees.
  • Allow more flexibility and discretion in determining which applicants qualify on an individual basis.
  • Keep DACA applications confidential and protect sensitive juvenile records.

CLINIC supports a national network of nearly 300 immigration legal services programs. Over 90 percent of CLINIC’s affiliates provide free and low cost representation to tens of thousands of DACA applicants. The feedback from CLINIC’s affiliates formed the basis for recommendations contained in the report. Additionally, some of the DACA success stories in the report were clients of CLINIC affiliates in Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin.

“The continued success of DACA relies heavily on faith and community-based organizations, like CLINIC’s affiliates. Their recommendations are based upon four years of experience assisting young people and families with DACA. This report honors their work and is forward-looking with an eye to meaningful improvements,” said Bussey.

We are disappointed by the US Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to let stand the ban on President Obama’s executive action that would have shielded as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to legally work in the United States.

KIAC will continue to serve our immigrant sisters and brothers and will work with the local, state, and national coalitions to bring about change to our unjust and destructive immigration syste.


Our former board member and Friend of KIAC, Mateo Santiago Antonio graduated from Olympic College today. You can learn about Mateo’s journey here.
Congratulations Mateo. Well done.

for websiteMateo's Graduation

Become a citizen or get your Green Card

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Citizenship swearing in ceremony

KIAC Immigration Legal Services is dedicated to helping immigrants integrate into our community. Our Citizenship Program will help you apply to become a citizen. Our services are very low-cost or free. Click here to make an appointment.

In the West Puget Sound there is an invisible web of immigrants striving to become productive, contributing members of our community.  They face bewildering challenges – from learning English to finding work, from accessing health care to finding educational opportunities and legal aid.  The Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center (KIAC) is the only organization in the West Puget Sound dedicated to assisting immigrants from all nations in meeting these challenges.  We are a 501(c)(3) founded in 2004.  Since 2010 we have averaged over 1,100 visits annually by immigrants from 28 countries.

Our family services center provides a myriad of services and referrals. Learn more about these services here.

Our legal program is BIA recognized and provides a variety of immigration legal services. Learn more here.


Monetary gifts to KIAC are crucial for the Center to continue to provide services and programs to families in need. Your gift can make a difference in the life of a parent or child in our community. The Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All gifts to KIAC are tax-deductible. To make a gift, click on the button below or contact our Treasurer, Ray Garrido, at his email address.

Become a Sustainer

Please consider making a monthly gift. By doing this you’ll greatly help us to continue to serve the aspiring Americans in our community.  Just click on the Donate button at the top of the page.

Serving our sisters and brothers in the immigrant community

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