One of the only immigration service providers in the region, we serve clients from the Dioceses of Spokane, Yakima, Baker, and Boise. Our main office is in Spokane at our Family Services Center at 5th and Division; we also provide services in Okanogan, Othello, Pasco, and Walla Walla.
Our services include consultation and assistance in the areas of immigrant Visa petitions, residency, citizenship, and self petitions for victims of domestic violence and crime. Our language skills include Spanish, Russian and French. We also have resources, as needed, for a variety of other languages spoken in our service areas. If we aren’t able to provide a particular service, we are generally able to refer clients on to a variety of community partners who can provide assistance.
We receive our funding through fees for service and from state/local contracts and grants. In 2011, we assisted 266 individuals and families.
We were founded in 1975 as the Catholic Charities Spokane Refugee Resettlement Program in response to an increase in the number of displaced persons resulting from the fall of Saigon that year at the end of the Vietnam War. Since that time, the program has helped resettle refugees from most every troubled spot in the world, including Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and, of course, Asia. Partnerships with parishes, who acted as liaisons, were critical in helping refugees settle in and learn the ways of their strange new home. Catholic Charities additionally helped refugees access language, employment, housing, and other necessities, including immigration benefits.
The tragedy of September 11, 2001 changed the focus of the program’s work from refugee resettlement to working with immigrants already in the US as refugee admission numbers plummeted immediately following 9/11. Catholic Charities continued to offer assistance to those already here. In recognition of this new role and also to reflect its shifting focus from one specific group to a wider range of newcomers, we became Catholic Charities Refugee & Immigration Services.
It was through the guidance and training of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, a national organization, that we built and expanded our program to the broad region we serve today. In May 2005, we received CLINIC’s Award for the Best New Program in an Underserved Area.