Commerce awards $15.4 million in grants to expand legal aid to low-income immigrants

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project among organizations receiving funding to provide legal aid in communities across Washington state 

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded $15.4 million in grants to eight organizations across the state, expanding access to legal aid services for low-income immigrants. The 2023-25 appropriation from the Washington Legislature enables nearly a doubling of previous annual funding levels.

“Everyone deserves to be safe, remain together with family and loved ones, and have the opportunity to go to school and earn a living,” said Mike Fong, Director for the Department of Commerce. ”The funding increase from the legislature this year is critical to ensure that emergency legal aid for refugees in Washington continues to expand.”

“We are honored to partner with Commerce to reunite families, defend immigrant rights, and promote justice in our community, no matter where our clients were born or how much money they have,” said Malou Chávez, Executive Director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), one of the grant recipients.

Haag continued: “When someone gains the legal rights that come from work authorization, permanent residency, or citizenship, the entire trajectory of their individual and family lives can change: Rather than live on the margins, often in poverty, they gain opportunities for economic advancement and can escape the constant trauma and hurdles that come with being undocumented.”

NWIRP, which has nearly 40 years of experience serving immigrants worldwide, provides immigration legal aid to community members in every corner of the state. It prioritizes complex cases and individuals facing imminent risks, such as deportation, domestic violence, mental illness, interaction with the criminal legal systems, or other emergencies.

Other organizations will provide services regionally and locally in over two dozen Washington counties. Counties with the most Ukrainian arrivals were prioritized in the grant selection process, including Clark County, which ranks third statewide for recent Ukraine arrivals, according to the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA).

Together, the organizations awarded funding expect to serve more than 2,700 clients annually, many with complex cases that can take years to resolve.

Need continues to surpass available funding. Even with the welcome significant increase this year, Director Fong said strong grant applications had to be turned away.

The following organizations were selected to receive 2023-25 funding, pending final contracts with Commerce:


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