On Monday, our country celebrated National Citizenship Day, also known as Constitution Day (when our constitution was signed 231 years ago). I was proud to share how the Port of Seattle is partnering with local organizations to help our immigrant and refugee residents and foreign visitors fully participate in our region’s social, civic, and economic fabric.
The Port’s partnership with One America on the New Americans Campaign will encourage eligible legal permanent residents to apply for citizenship. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is the first independent airport authority to join the Red, White, and Blue: Time for Citizenship Campaign. You can find a new public service announcement in both English and Spanish on Sea-Tac video monitors. Interested viewers will be directed to the New Americans Campaign website where they can identify local services and support to help them through the naturalization process. Washington State is home to 186,000 legal permanent residents who are eligible to naturalize, according to the 2013 American Community Survey.
The second program we announced is the Port’s partnership with World Relief, which will allow refugee resettlement case workers to welcome arriving refugees at their gates. Washington State now welcomes the third most refugees in the country. It’s hard to imagine the challenges that refugees have faced in their home countries that caused them to seek asylum in the United States, uprooting their lives and entering an unfamiliar land. The least we can do for these people who have dealt with so much is to ensure that they have a positive first impression when they arrive at Sea-Tac. And so we have figured out a secure way to allow World Relief’s refugee resettlement caseworkers to meet these arriving refugees at the gate and accompany them into their new lives. The Port plans to expand this partnership to other local refugee resettlement organizations as well.
These programs demonstrate how the Port is implementing our Welcoming Port policy that the Commission passed in May 2018. The last year and a half has brought immigrant and refugee issues to the forefront in unexpected and unfortunate ways. As a global gateway and a county-wide government, the Port has both an economic and moral responsibility to increase our local and national leadership of these issues and to support and protect the rights and quality of life of immigrants, refugees, and foreign visitors.