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King County Creates Commission To Help Immigrants And Refugees

Paula Wissel
King County Executive Dow Constantine signs a law to create an Immigrant and Refugee Commission at a ceremony Tuesday.

King County now has a permanent Immigrant and Refugee Commission. King County Executive Dow Constantine joined hundreds of immigrants and refugees in a signing ceremony Tuesday morning at a community hall in Seattle’s Columbia City to celebrate. The hall was packed with people who have moved here from all over the world, including Mexico, Somalia, and Ukraine.

Sameth Mell, a Cambodian American activist who supports creation of the commission, said the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the country right now has taken a toll.

“Even people who are actually legally living here in King County legally are afraid to seek services,” Mell says.

He says a commission, along with a new immigrant protection law passed by the King County Council this week, will help immigrants and refugees feel safe.

In signing the bill creating the commission,  Constantine said it’s not just the right thing to do for humanitarian reason, but also because immigrants spark innovation and enrich the community.

“We are going to do everything we can to ensure that that vigor, that energy continues for many, many decades to come,” Constantine said.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.