NWIRP immigrant legal aid expands in response to surge of requests

With rising xenophobia and anti-immigrant policy imposed at the federal level, a demand in immigrant legal aid has escalated for both immigrants and service providers. Pictured: Protesters at Sea-Tac Airport stand in opposition of Trump’s executive orders on Jan. 28. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

In response to a surge of post-election requests and immigration laws coming under the spotlight, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project  (NWIRP) is offering increased legal aid and education to immigrant communities.

NWIRP, a nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, Tacoma, Granger and Wenatchee, organizes community education events and and offers bono legal aid to immigrants throughout Seattle and the state. Their “Immigration 101” trainings, usually led by NWIRP Executive Director Jorge Baron, are geared primarily towards service professionals who aid immigrants as health care providers, educators or social workers, whereas their popular “Know Your Rights” trainings, coordinated in response to recent demand, serve community members around the state concerned with their own immigration rights.

“The ‘Immigration 101’ trainings are for allies,” explained Raul Alvarez, NWIRP’s development and communications coordinator.

At these,  providers can get basic situational and legal questions answered, as well as a primer on what the legal rights of immigrants are, depending on their immigration status in the U.S. In December alone, NWIRP presented “Immigration 101” trainings to nearly 1,000 social service providers in Seattle, Wenatchee and Tacoma.

“Know Your Rights” trainings are headed by NWIRP legal staff and conducted in partnership with the Microsoft Legal Department, Perkins Cole and community volunteers.

“We have gotten dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of requests” for the workshops overall, said Alvarez, adding that NWIRP has presented around 60 workshops since the election, and requests for these workshops are increasing.

Jorge Baron, executive director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, hosts a March 6th community update on YouTube in Spanish. (Screenshot from NWIRP YouTube)

NWIRP initially established its Seattle office in 1984 as a collaboration of attorneys and human rights groups “to provide legal services to Central American immigrants that were fleeing civil wars,” said Alvarez. It has since grown into a statewide advocacy and legal aid organization serving more than 10,000 individuals from at least 135 countries with 70 full-time staff members and more than 350 volunteer attorneys.

Though NWIRP has grown massively in scale, it maintains a grassroots approach. NWIRP’s network of leaders and organizers on the ground initiate many of the workshops with requests to host them in their own communities.

“It’s really about people knowing what their rights are,” said Alvarez.

NWIRP is hosting their next “Know Your Rights” workshop in Ellensburg this Saturday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The training will be conducted in Spanish for the benefit of Spanish-speaking participants. More details can be found on NWIRP’s event page

To request a workshop in your community, fill out NWIRP’s online form.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, thank you for the wonderful job you guys are doing.Please I and my partner came here in Australia two months ago to seek for protection against torture and in prison sentence. Because of our srxual, we have been through a lot. Please we need your help/advice as soon as possible.

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