Ride-hailing firms Lyft and Uber are pledging $10,000 each to partner with the City of Seattle and local immigrant advocacy groups to help naturalization applicants get through a federal plan to send them to Yakima or Portland for interviews and oath ceremonies.
After naturalization process times at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in Seattle increased from five months to up to 20 months, the agency announced in June that Seattle-area citizenship applicants would be sent to Yakima and Portland, instead of the field office in Tukwila.
Lyft and Uber have pledged $10,000 each, which will help about 400 local applicants get free transportation to their naturalization interviews via bus or train.
“Redirecting citizenship applicants to offices over three hours away appears to be yet another brick in the ‘Second Wall’ of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda – for low-income applicants without their own reliable transportation, and for the organizations that typically accompany them to interviews,” said Cuc Vu, director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA). “USCIS could have just paid attention to the past 20 years of Seattle’s immense growth and proportionately increased Seattle Field Office staffing. Instead they appear to prefer dissuading people from becoming new Americans.”
To assist eligible green card holders who lack resources to travel several hours away for their interviews, Lyft and Uber are each donating $10,000 to support:
- The purchase of train or bus tickets for immigrant applicants, or
- To subsidize mileage costs for applicants, or
- For community-based organization staff accompanying applicants to interviews.
Lyft and Uber are also each providing 700 unique $10 ride codes, which can be used for rides to and from the bus or train station in Seattle and between the station and the USCIS office in Portland and Yakima. OIRA is distributing these funds through 20 existing community-based partners in the New Citizen Campaign (NCC) and New Citizen Program (NCP). Both services focus on helping vulnerable Seattle area residents become U.S. citizens.
The first applicant to utilize this travel fund was a client of the community-based organization Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), who took her first trip to Portland from Seattle at the end of August.
— Information from a press release from the Seattle Office of Immigrants and Refugees