Foreign-born residents face particular challenges upon arrival in the U.S., and King County employees have been easing the transition for immigrants and refugees in the area for nearly forty years.
King County Executive Dow Constantine visited the Downtown Public Health Center in Belltown Thursday with members of the media to thank those County employees and to show examples of the important services King County provides to immigrants and refugees shortly after they arrive from Sea-Tac International Airport.
In light of the national attention immigration is currently receiving, Executive Constantine wanted to showcase the Downtown Public Health Center’s employees and intake process for immigrants and refugees, and reaffirm the County’s dedication to assisting those in our area. “Martin Luther King County is living out its commitment that we are a place where every person truly is welcomed on equal footing,” Executive Constantine said during the tour.
King County grows more diverse every year. Since 2000, the County has grown by more than 220,000 residents, and only half of that growth is from births. Most of the remainder is from immigrants and refugees.
Geni Sheikh, one of the event attendees and a refugee from Somalia, got help when she arrived, and then became an interpreter for other immigrants. She is now a King County employee and Public Health Nurse who helps new mothers as part of the Nurse Family Partnership program.
On August 11, Executive Constantine endorsed the recommendations of the King County Immigrant and Refugee Task Force, including the creation of an Immigrant and Refugee Commission with a dedicated staff member to advance equity and opportunity for the more than 400,000 foreign-born residents in the region.
“King County proudly upholds the American principle that we are a nation of opportunity. The task force has produced recommendations that will help immigrants and refugees in our region flourish, achieve their full potential, and contribute to our region’s prosperity,” Executive Constantine said.