Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
COVID-19 Information and Community Support, including Minneapolis Gap Fund details
The City of Minneapolis has created a Gap Fund for Housing and Small Business support in response to the economic challenges residents are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. Information about this fund is available in multiple languages. Individuals may qualify for this support regardless of immigration status.
The City of Minneapolis has a COVID-19 resource page, which is frequently updated with information and links to community support resources in multiple languages.
The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is operating remotely at this time. To share resources that would benefit immigrant and refugee communities or to obtain assistance from OIRA, please contact Michelle Rivero at [email protected] or 612-394-6018.
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, is a holiday celebrating the date in 1862 that the Mexican Army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Information about livestream events today is available on the New York Times website. More information about Latinx culture in Minnesota can be found at the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs.
45th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon
April 30, 2020 marks the 45th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, marking the end of the Vietnam War. Minnesota is home to many Vietnamese who first came to the state as refugees with the assistance of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Catholic Charities, World Relief, Jewish Family Services and International Institute. More information, including links to a documentary about refugees who fled Vietnam, "A Lost Homeland" can be found on Minnesota Public Radio.
On Wednesday April 22, the Trump Administration issued a Presidential Proclamation restricting entry of certain immigrants into the United States for a period of 60 days. The Proclamation took effect at 11:59PM Eastern Time on Thursday April 23. A link to this order is below:
This proclamation will only apply to individuals who are currently outside of the United States and who are trying to obtain immigrant visas to come to the US as permanent residents. People who are not subject to this restriction include:
- Applicants for permanent resident status who are currently in the US;
- People who are applying for “nonimmigrant” status (this would include visitor visas, H-1Bs, F-1s and other temporary visa classifications);
- Spouses and under 21 year old children of US citizens;
- People who already have their valid immigrant visa or other official valid travel document in hand;
- People who already hold permanent resident status and who are returning to the US to resume permanent resident status;
- Foreign nationals national seeking to enter the US with an immigrant visa to work as a “physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join” that person
- Foreign nationals applying to enter the US pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor program;
- Certain adoptees;
- Asylum applicants;
- An individual whose entry would further law enforcement objectives;
- A member of the US armed forces and any spouse or children of USAF member;
- An individual seeking to enter the US with an SI or SQ classification Special Immigrant Visa (and spouse or child);
- An individual whose entry would be in the national interest.
A more detailed analysis of this order can be found here.
A more detailed analysis of this order can be found here.Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will be hosting a Facebook Live event explaining the impact of this proclamation in greater detail on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Immigration Bulletins issued by the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medeira Arradondo address discrimination within the Asian American community
Viruses don't discriminate, and neither should we.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against in the City of Minneapolis, please contact the Civil Rights Department to file a complaint.
If you need immediate help or are in immediate danger, call 911.
The State of Minnesota has also launched a Discrimination Helpline for people who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The toll-free hotline # is 1-833-454-0148 and is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00AM - 4:30PM. More information, in multiple languages can be found here.
Information and resources for communities impacted by COVID-19
- COVID-19 basic information videos released on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) in English, Espanol, Hmoob, and Soomaali.
- What to do if you are sick with COVID-19? Videos from Hennepin County Public Health Department in English ,Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
- Know Your Rights Facebook Live event with Advocates for Human Rights on April 3 at 7PM. (in Spanish).
- Videos about Minnesota's Stay at Home Order in English, Hmong, Somali, Spanish and additional languages.
- "Immigration and Covid-19" Facebook Live event with Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota on Tuesday March 31 in English and Spanish.
- March 29 KFAI radio program "La Voz Del Pueblo" with Minneapolis Chief of Police Medeira Arradondo explaining enforcement of the Governor's Stay at Home order in Spanish.
- City of Minneapolis Cultural Radio Programming in English, Espanol, Hmoob and Soomaali.
Financial help and consumer protection
- MN Immigrant Family Fund: accepting financial donations to support communities who do not qualify for state or federal financial support
- CLUES Coronavirus Resource Center
- Fraud and price gouging complaints can be filed with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
COVID-19 and employment/work issues
- Workers rights information from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry in English, Hmong, Somali, Spanish
- List of contacts on various work related issues including unemployment, wage and hour, safety and health and more
- Employer and Employee Frequently Asked Questions
- National Immigration Law Center Resource entitled "Immigrant Workers Rights and COVID-19"
- The City of Minneapolis has a wage theft ordinance to protect workers. To learn how to report a violation of Minneapolis labor standards, dial 311 or visit the violation report page
- Small Business Resources including Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 and public charge
- Public Charge brochures from the Minnesota Department of Human Services in English, Hmong, Karen, Somali, Spanish
- Applying for or receiving unemployment benefits does not count for public charge.
- There are also no negative public charge impacts for getting testing or preventive medical help if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Learn more about public charge.
Culturally Specific Food Assistance
Some community members have reported difficulty in accessing culturally appropriate food options. Some resources below for food assistance:
- Comprehensive list of food shelves in the State of Minnesota
- Isuroon, 612-517-8095
- Pillsbury United Communities -- locations at Waite House and Bryan Coyle
COVID-19 and international travel
The federal administration has issued a travel ban which took effect at midnight Friday March 13. The ban affects individuals traveling to the U.S. from Europe. A factsheet on the ban from the Office of Customs and Border Protection can be found here. The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), on March 17, announced a suspension of all refugee resettlement.
Immigration Court hearings
The Executive Office for Immigration Review has cancelled non-detained court hearings until May 1, 2020. People who have cases scheduled before the immigration court should call 1-800-898-7180 to learn about case rescheduling. The office's COVID-19 announcement and additional immigration court related updates can be found here. Case status information can be found by calling 1-800-898-7180 or visiting the office's webpage.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
The Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sensitive location policy, prevents agents from conducting immigration enforcement operations in sensitive locations, including health care facilities, except in emergency circumstances. ICE's webpage explains this policy in light of COVID-19. More general information on the policy can be found here. On March 18, ICE also issued a public notice indicating that it will suspend immigration enforcement actions against people who are not a public safety risk or subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds. ICE is also suspending in person check-ins for people who have to report because they are on Order of Supervision. If this situation applies to you, the local ICE office has provided the following contact number to check in: 612-843-8601. Calls are accepted between 8AM-2PM Monday-Friday.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended all in person interviews through May 3. The webpage with this information is available here and people should check frequently for updates, including information on USCIS office closures. It may also be helpful to refer to USCIS's policies in cases where individuals are impacted by natural disaster or special situations. USCIS has also indicated that it is extending time frames to respond to Notices of Intent to Deny, Requests for Evidence, and Notices of Intent to Terminate for notices issued between March 1 and May 1. More information here.
Applying for US Citizenship
Applying for naturalization, or US citizenship, is an important step for US permanent residents. US citizens have legal rights, including the right to vote, to obtain a US passport, and to sponsor a relative for immigration benefits. There are many legal service organizations in the Twin Cities area that provide information and legal representation for those who are interested in learning more about how to apply for US citizenship.
Information on how to qualify for and obtain assistance in applying for US citizenship:
- International Institute of Minnesota
- Mid Minnesota Legal Aid
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
- Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Services
- Volunteer Lawyers Network
The goal of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is to ensure that Minneapolis is a safe and welcoming place for all. Our office is in the Department of Neighborhood & Community Relations, and supports the City's One Minneapolis goal to “eliminate disparities so that all Minneapolis residents can participate and prosper."
Our principal responsibilities are to:
- Inform City leaders about federal immigration developments and advise on policy initiatives to support affected residents.
- Equip community members with information regarding immigration developments, positioning them to protect and defend their rights.
- Educate residents about existing resources to address immigration issues and other needs, whether through local government or through legal, social service or other nonprofit organizations.
The Office takes a proactive, coordinated, enterprise-wide approach to accomplish the following:
- Enhance the civic and social integration of immigrant and refugee communities.
- Promote economic development and ensure access to resources and programs within immigrant and refugee communities across Minneapolis.
- Collaborate with federal, state and local governing bodies, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders on immigrant and refugee issues, programs and policies.
- Advocate for continued immigration reforms at all levels of government to eliminate inequities.
- Provide relevant, accurate information and education—including community resources—to residents regarding significant issues that impact immigrants and refugees.
- Ensure that Minneapolis remains a welcoming city for immigrants, refugees and existing residents.
Responsibilities of the Office include:
- Educate policy-makers, City departments and the public on the needs of immigrant and refugee communities, and represent the City in the public discourse around immigration with constructive messages.
- Analyze the impact of City programs and policies on immigrant and refugee communities, and recommend improvements.
- Lead a multi-departmental team to create programs and activities that strengthen the City’s immigrant and refugee communities.
- Manage referrals to community organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, providing information and contacts.
- Support the establishment of an Immigrant and Refugee Commission upon approval of City Council.
- Build strategic, meaningful relationships with stakeholders and the larger community to advocate on behalf of immigrant and refugee families.
- Coordinate work with the department’s community specialists concerning immigrant and refugee initiatives.
- Support the City’s membership and activities with local, regional, national and international networks, collaborations and organizations.
Meet Director Michelle Rivero
Michelle Rivero is the Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, housed within the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. Michelle has been an immigration attorney for the last 18 years. Her work has included representing clients in immigration court proceedings (detained and nondetained), asylum applicants, crime victims seeking U visas, VAWA applicants (victims of domestic violence), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, applicants for US citizenship, as well as individuals petitioning for family members to come to or remain in the United States.
Community Engagement and Research
To build awareness and inform the work of our office, we have begun a community engagement process—interviewing stakeholders and convening community round tables. Information from this process defines our scope of work. We asked you what we should focus on and these themes emerged:
- Economic advancement
- Promotion of values
- Cultural work and healing
Last updated May 6, 2020