Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
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." Learn how we engage the many cultural communities of Minneapolis.
Immigration Update : June 22, 2019
Multiple news outlets have reported that, as soon as Sunday morning, June 23, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could start deporting individuals with final immigration court removal (deportation) orders in ten U.S. cities. Minneapolis was not listed by ICE as one of these ten cities.
This news makes people scared, we know this. Minneapolis is a Welcoming City and we believe that all people, including immigrants, are valuable contributors to society, vital to the success of our community and to our shared future.
By replacing fear with knowledge, the City of Minneapolis works to make our communities safer. The resources on this site can help you if you are fearful of an immigration enforcement activity and can help you understand your constitutional rights. The City also partners with legal service organizations to ensure that residents have access to competent legal information and advice, regardless of ability to pay.
A few videos, links and hotline information are located here below:
United We Dream video:
ACLU of Minnesota:
Finding an immigration lawyer in your area:
Additional Know Your Rights Resources:
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota hotline: 651-287-3715
(operational Monday, June 24 from 2-4PM, Wednesday June 26 from 2-4PM, Monday July 1 from 2-4PM, Wednesday July 3 from 2-4PM)
World Refugee Day
OIRA is participating in World Refugee Day at City Hall. Come out to enjoy free food, dance, special guests and a discussion with local organizations on refugees and community solidarity. On June 20, we recognize the strength, courage and perseverance of immigrants forced from home.
Speakers will begin at 11 a.m. with:
- Mayor Jacob Frey.
- Council Member Phillipe Cunningham.
- Council Member Abdi Warsame.
- Dr. Xailong Yang of the Hmong Minneapolis Leadership Council.
- Khadija Ali entrepreneur and CEO of Global Language and Staffing.
- Gerardo Cajamarca of SEIU and Colombian activist for human rights.
- Hmong Qeej Rhythm Group Nuj Si Loob
- Ifrah Mansour
- Sagal Restaurant
- Pham's Rice Bowl
- La Mexicana
Community panelists for 1:30 p.m. discussion in room 319 (3rd floor): We encourage you to RSVP for the community panel here.
- Gelek Namgyal, Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.
- Sunny Chanthanouvong, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota.
- Alfreda Daniels, Black Immigrant Collective.
- Hue Pham, Vietnamese Social Services.
- Fartun Weli, Isuroon.
- Betsy Fisher, International Refugee Assistance Project.
- Ben Whalen, Minnesota Council of Churches (Refugee Resettlement).
Informational tables from 11 - 1 p.m. from:
- We Count 2020 Census
- Center for Victims of Torture
- Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Affairs
- International Institute of Minnesota
- Blaisdell YMCA
- Tibetan American Association of Minnesota
- Lutheran Social Services
- Minnesota Council of Churches
Important Immigration News
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
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
612-673-6103 (office) 612-357-1875 (cell)
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 Jun 22, 2019