Immigrant and Refugee Affairs News

Information about City programs and initiatives, and developments in immigration law, policy, resources, and enforcement.

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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

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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.

Presidential Proclamation restricting entry of certain immigrants into the United States for a period of 60 days

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.  

Read a more detailed analysis of the order here or view the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota's Facebook Live event explaining the impact of this proclamation.

Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo address discrimination against the Asian American community

Watch video with Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo denouncing discrimination against Asian American communities.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against in the City of Minneapolis, please contact the Civil Rights Department to file a complaint.

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 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. More information in multiple languages can be found here.

US Supreme Court decision allows implementation of Public Charge Rule

A decision issued by the United States Supreme Court on Monday January 27, 2020 allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement a new "public charge" rule in every state but Illinois, where a statewide injunction remains in place. Public charge is a term used by the Department of Homeland Security to refer to a person considered primarily dependent upon the government for financial support, as evidenced through the receipt of certain cash benefits, or institutionalization for long term care at government expense. In certain circumstances, a person found to be a public charge may be ineligible to obtain permanent residence. 

In August 2019, DHS issued a new public charge rule that expands the category of benefits the government can consider in making its public charge determination to include some non-cash benefits, and also expands the criteria the government can examine in the public charge analysis. Federal litigation challenging the legality of this rule resulted in multiple national injunctions, that, until this week, had prevented DHS from employing this new test.  The Supreme Court lifted the last nationwide injunction that had been in place, so DHS may start using the new rule at any time. 

Many people are not subject to the public charge test at all, including:

US Citizens, permanent resident (green card) holders, asylees and refugees (and people applying for permanent residence based upon their asylee and refugee status), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) renewal applicants, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries, Special Immigrant Juveniles, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) beneficiaries, and U and T visa applicants/holders

This factsheet explains who is and is not impacted by the new public charge rule, and what benefits are at issue. People who are concerned about whether this rule impacts them are encouraged to contact Mid Minnesota Legal Aid's public charge hotline at 1-800-292-4150 for a free, confidential consultation. Public charge information will also be shared at the City of Minneapolis Community Connections Conference this Saturday, February 1, and immigration attorneys will be on site to provide information about the new rule. 

Please know that this week's Supreme Court decision is not the final word on whether the new public charge test is in fact legal, as several federal court cases are still addressing that issue, including one case in the 9th Circuit where the State of Minnesota is a plaintiff.

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is committed to ensuring that community members have up to date and accurate information so that they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families.  Please contact OIRA at 612-357-1875 or [email protected] for additional information and outreach opportunities on this subject. 

Temporary Protected Status Extended for Citizens of Somalia and Yemen

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been extended for citizens of Somalia currently maintaining TPS status in the US. The TPS extension will last until September 17, 2021.  TPS was also recently extended to September 3, 2021 for citizens of Yemen. More information on TPS extensions and expiration dates for citizens of all countries covered by the TPS program can be found here.

New Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act enables eligible Liberian citizens to apply for permanent resident status in the US

On December 20, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) was signed into law. This provision permits certain citizens of Liberia to immediately file applications for permanent residence in the United States. The passage of this measure was the result of decades of advocacy, as described in this recent NBC news story. Eligible applicants must apply within 1 year of the law's enactment, or by December 20, 2020.  More information about this Act is on a dedicated Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota page as well as a USCIS webpage. Those who need help identifying a legal service organization to assist in filing LRIF applications should click on the Immigration Legal Services button at the top of this page or contact the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs directly by phone at 612-357-1875 or email at [email protected]

International Migrants Day is December 18 -- Art Exhibit at City Hall

December 18 is International Migrants Day. On this day in 1990, the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families. The Convention emphasizes and encourages respect for the human rights of migrants and states that every migrant worker and every member of his or her family shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. In recognition of International Migrants Day, the City of Minneapolis will be hosting an art exhibit at City Hall. The installation is entitled “Mirame” which means “Look at Me” in Spanish and provides viewers with an interactive opportunity, through masks, photographs and written personal accounts, to learn about residents of the state of Minnesota who have migrated to the US. The exhibit will be on display from 10:30-2:30 in the Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda. More information about this exhibit can be found here.   

City of Minneapolis passes Resolution reaffirming support of Refugees

On Friday, December 13, Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution reaffirming the City's commitment to supporting the resettlement of refugees in the City of Minneapolis.  The resolution follows an executive order issued by President Trump that, for the first time, instructs federal officials to seek written consent from state and local governments before accepting refugees in their communities. The resolution states, "The Mayor and City Council do hereby affirm the City's status as a Welcoming City, and a city that strongly supports resettling refugees without regard to race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or country of origin." It notes that more than 70.8 million displaced people have been forced from their homes around the world--a larger number than at any time in recorded history. The resolution also acknowledges that Minnesota and Minneapolis are home to some of the largest and most diverse populations of refugees and immigrants in the United States, contributing to the City's economic strength and cultural richness. 

December 10 is Human Rights Day

 Tuesday December 10 is Human Rights Day, the day that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations. The Declaration preamble recognizes that the inherent dignity and "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. How can we support human rights right here in Minnesota? Learn more by reading the Declaration, attending this week's open house sponsored by the Advocates for Human Rights on Tuesday December 10 from 4-6PM, and visiting the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Human Rights program.

Proposed Rule to increase USCIS application fees--public comment deadline EXTENDED to December 30, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a proposed rule to increase filing fees for many applications for immigration status, including DACA, Naturalization (US Citizenship) and Adjustment of Status. The proposed rule would also eliminate the ability to obtain a fee waiver for most application types, and would require asylum applicants to pay a fee to submit their applications. A sample of proposed fee changes is contained below (courtesy of Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota):


Current Fee

Proposed Fee

Net Difference

% Change











Lawful Permanent Residence










These proposed fee increases, in combination with elimination of the ability to submit a fee waiver for most applications for immigration benefits, will likely reduce the number of individuals who are able to successfully apply for immigration status.   There is a 30 day comment period for this proposed rule, and any member of the public can submit a comment as long as it is done no later than December 30, 2019.  City of Minneapolis immigration services contract partner Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has more information about this rule including a link to the Federal Register notice. Organizations that may be interested in submitting a comment may be interested in this guidance.  

Temporary Protected Status extended for citizens of certain countries 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that Temporary Protected Status will be extended until January 4, 2021 for citizens of the following countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Separately, USCIS extended TPS for citizens of Syria, through March 31, 2021.  More information, in multiple languages, is available on the TPS page of the USCIS website. Those who qualify should regularly check the TPS webpage in addition to consulting with an immigration attorney/nonprofit legal service organization to learn more about this extension. 

DACA oral argument before the Supreme Court on November 12, 2019

The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on November 12 on the subject of whether the Trump administration's termination of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was lawful, with a decision expected to be issued by June 2020. DACA recipients should consult with an attorney now for advice on filing renewal applications. Partner organizations that work with the City of Minneapolis and are ready to provide information about DACA renewal eligibility include Volunteer Lawyers Network (651-752-6677) and Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (651-641-1011). DACA recipients who cannot afford to pay the $495 renewal fee and are citizens of Mexico may contact the Mexican Consulate at 520-612-7874 to learn whether they qualify for assistance in paying the filing fee. Please contact the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs if you are interested in helping a DACA beneficiary pay the DACA renewal fee. 

People interested in sharing their DACA story and learning more about DACA can visit the Home is Here webpage

Immigration update: Asylum news

A person who has been persecuted or has a well founded fear of persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group may qualify for asylum in the United States. Our federal government has issued a rule which will prevent applicants who 1) entered the US after July 16, 2019, 2) transited through a third country before entering the US and 3) did not apply for asylum in that third country before entering the US from qualifying for asylum. There are exceptions to this rule, and the rule is being challenged in federal court.  It is important to know that other forms of relief from deportation are still available to victims of persecution, including relief under the Convention Against Torture.  More information about the impact of this rule can be found here.   

Also in asylum news, on September 9, the federal government  issued a proposed rule that would eliminate the federal regulation requiring initial work authorization documents for asylum applicants to be processed within 30 days.  More information about the proposed rule here.  There is a 60 day notice and comment period which allows anyone to express their opinion about the rule, so long as this is done by the end of the comment period, which is November 8, 2019. 

Public Charge  

On Wednesday, August 14, the federal government issued a immigration agency rule which could impact the ability of some people to qualify for permanent resident, or "green card," status. This rule is commonly known as the "public charge" rule, and it expands the criteria and type of benefits that the government can point to in deciding whether to grant or deny green card applications for certain applicants. This rule is anticipated to take effect 60 days after publication. Several states, including the State of Minnesota, have joined a lawsuit in federal court in Washington state to prevent this rule from taking effect. 

Community members should know that the public charge test does NOT apply to applicants for US citizenship, people who hold asylum or refugee status, Special Immigrant Juveniles, TPS, VAWA, U or T visas, or green cards based upon these classifications. You can get free legal information advice on public benefits and public charge, either by phone or through a presentation in your community, by contacting Mid Minnesota Legal Aid at 1-800-292-4150. Additional information about the subject of public charge can be found on the webpage for Protecting Immigrant Families and  Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Volunteer Lawyers Network has put out a helpful flyer with additional details on public charge. This document is available in English and Spanish

UPDATE: On Friday, October 11, 2019 federal courts in multiple states granted injunctions preventing implementation of the public charge rule nationwide while the legality of the rule is decided upon by the courts. More information is available at the Protecting Immigrant Families webpage, indicated above. 

Immigration update: Expedited Removal

On July 23, the federal government issued a notice expanding expedited removal to individuals who have been in the United States without authorization for less than 2 years. Expedited removal is a way for immigration officials to quickly deport people from the US without allowing them to see an immigration judge or attorney, although a person who expresses a fear of returning to their home country must be referred for an interview before an asylum officer.  An informational sheet on expedited removal prepared by Pennsylvania State University Center for Immigrant Rights can be found here.  For more information regarding the expedited removal process, please contact OIRA at [email protected].

Immigration Update: July 12, 2019

News outlets report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may start enforcement operations in ten U.S. cities starting this Sunday. While  Minneapolis was not listed by ICE as one of these ten cities, we know that reports like these cause fear. Minneapolis is a Welcoming City and we remain vigilant.  OIRA is working closely with our immigration legal service partners to connect people to existing legal clinics, know your rights presentations, and community organizations that offer protection, advice and support when our community members need it most

Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender and Minneapolis Police Chief Medeira Arradondo have made their position on threatened immigration enforcement activity clear.  A portion of their statement is excerpted below:

"The City of Minneapolis condemns any actions that would put our residents and families at risk or actions that instill fear in our community. The City of Minneapolis is a welcoming city that believes all people, including immigrants, are valuable contributors to society, vital to the success of our communities and to our shared future.

Minneapolis Police have not and will not cooperate with, nor participate in, any such ICE activity. Minneapolis officials are prohibited from taking any action to detect or apprehend people based solely on their immigration status. Our entire city is proud to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers, sisters and neighbors. By replacing fear with knowledge, the City of Minneapolis works to make our communities safer. The City partners with legal service organizations to ensure that residents have access to competent legal information and advice, regardless of ability to pay."

Immigration Related information and Resources 

Please Contact OIRA for additional resources

Important Immigration News

DACA Developments


Last updated Aug 14, 2020