Making Seattle more accessible and responsive to our immigrant and refugee communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2011

SEATTLE – Today the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee passed Resolution 31316 that aims to improve outreach to Seattle’s diverse immigrant and refugee communities. According to the most recent available demographic data, 17 percent of Seattle residents are from immigrant and refugee communities. Spanish is the language Seattle most often provides translation and interpretation for, followed by Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Somali and Korean.

“Making city government more accessible and responsive to Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities is critical for promoting civic engagement among our newest residents,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, prime sponsor of Resolution 31316. “This resolution is about making Seattle work for all of us.”

“Ensuring that our all of our residents are included in the conversation is a huge step for our Race and Social Justice efforts. When everyone is included, we all win,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chair of the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee.

Last year the City Council asked the Office of Civil Rights to develop recommendations aimed at how the City can use existing investments in translation and interpretation to best support the overall goal of improving outreach to immigrant and refugee communities. These recommendations were presented by the Office of Civil Rights in the August 17 meeting of the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee.

“I am so pleased by our elected officials’ support for improving immigrant and refugee access to City services,” said Julie Nelson, director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. “Translation and interpretation are basic tools that help improve limited English speaking residents’ full participation in the life of our city.”

Resolution 31316 aligns with the principles of eliminating race-based disparities within Seattle in the City’s Race & Social Justice Initiative and with the Immigrant and Refugee Initiative to ensure that immigrant and refugee community members could access and benefit from City programs and services.

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