NWIRP to Celebrate 25 Years of Serving Immigrant Communities

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 5, 2009

Contact: Jorge L. Barón, Executive director, NWIRP, 206.957.8609

SEATTLE, WA- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), the only organization providing comprehensive immigration legal services to low-income individuals and families in Washington State, will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with a fundraising event at the Seattle Hilton, this coming Saturday, October 10.

Jorge L. Barón, NWIRP’s Executive Director, released the following statement: “For two and a half decades, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project has been defending the rights of immigrants and refugees from every corner of the world.  We are incredibly proud that, through our work, thousands of individuals and families have been able to find protection and stability in our country.  Saturday’s event will not only be a celebration of our past achievements but also an opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to defending the dignity of all human beings regardless of where they were born.”

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project began in 1984 as the Joint Legal Task Force (JLTF), a grassroots effort to respond to the needs of Central American refugees who had fled the civil wars in that region.  Over the next several years, JLTF merged with other organizations that had also been providing assistance to the immigrant community, emerging in 1992 as NWIRP.  Over the period of its existence, NWIRP has provided direct representation in immigration cases to thousands of individuals and families and other forms of assistance (such as community education and advice and counseling) to tens of thousands of others.  The impact of NWIRP’s work has not only had a profound impact on the individuals represented by the organization, but also helped to affect immigration law at the national and regional level.

Some examples of NWIRP’s clients over this time include:

  • Sherezade Guerrero: a young survivor of domestic violence, whose life and legal status were in jeopardy due to her husband’s abuse and threats;
  • Sergey Moskovkin: a refugee from Ukraine, who was placed in deportation proceedings because of a paperwork mix-up; he was facing deportation without an attorney to represent him despite the fact that one of his sons was serving on active duty in the U.S. military in Iraq; with NWIRP’s help, Mr. Moskovkin was able to successfully defend himself in court and eventually became a U.S. citizen; he now resides in the Tri-Cities;
  • Martha Zuniga and Laura Pedroza, a lesbian couple from Mexico, who sought asylum in the U.S. due to abuse, harassment and discrimination through NWIRP’s pro bono referral program;

About NWIRP’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

NWIRP’s Anniversary Celebration will be a reception held at the Seattle Hilton, October 10, 2009 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Guests will have an opportunity to hear stories of individuals served by NWIRP, both in a speech from former NWIRP client Sherezade Guerrero and through multimedia displays showcasing 25 years of the organization’s history and community impact. Enrique Cerna, Executive Producer of KCTS Connects, will emcee the brief program, which includes live oud and baglama music by Omar Haggag and a special Flamenco show by Arte Flamenco featuring Ester Marion, Rafael Vargas and Amelia.

NWIRP will present its 2009 Golden Door award to Radio KSVR 91.7 and 2009 Amicus award to Matthew Geyman of Phillips Law Group PLLC.

Radio KSVR 91.7, created in 1997, is a community radio station in Mount Vernon, WA, owned and operated by Skagit Valley College, reaching more than 100,000 people in the Skagit Valley and northern peninsula areas. Programming on KSVR has a large focus on immigration issues, broadcasting in several languages, including Spanish, Mixteco, Canjobal, Russian and more.

Matt Geyman, this year’s Amicus award winner, is a longtime supporter and advocate for immigrant rights who has taken on large pro bono cases for NWIRP. Among other cases, Matt has won compensation for the families of Guatemalan forestry workers who died in a 2004 van accident and a class action suit for Washington farm workers, requiring medical monitoring to protect farm pesticide handlers. Matt is the Chair of the Steering Committee, Laurel Rubin Farm Worker Justice Project.

The reception will also honor the memory of Beth Peterman, a dedicated advocate for immigrant rights and a Program Officer in Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A former member of NWIRP’s board of directors, Beth lost her battle with brain cancer at age 38 this year.

Heavy hors d’oeurves and Spanish tapas will be served. With the price of admission $100, guests receive two complimentary drink tickets. To attend the event, register online at http://www.nwirp.org

What: NWIRP’s 25th Anniversary Celebration!
Where: The Hilton Seattle
1301 6th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Price: $100
When: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 5:30 – 8:00pm

NWIRP is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. For tax purposes, the value of one ticket is $38.