Asylee Encampment at RPUMC
Over the last 10 months, over 500 asylees have passed through an encampment site owned and managed by the Riverton Park United Methodist Church (RPUMC) in Tukwila. Most of the residents are asylum-seekers from Venezuela, Angola and Congo, fleeing violence and conflict in their homeland. The site is beyond capacity, with over 350 individuals onsite as of this month. The situation at RPUMC raises significant public health and safety concerns and qualifies as a humanitarian crisis.
An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee. The process requires them to apply and receive a decision on their asylum claim.
Given the increasing number of asylees and potential impacts to neighboring cities, Tukwila is committed to finding an effective regional solution.
On Oct. 6, the City of Tukwila declared a “state of emergency” in an effort to help address the crisis and raise awareness. The declaration allows the City to adopt emergency zoning rules, suspend competitive bidding, and seek funding from the State of Washington and the Federal Government to address the growing need of asylum-seekers.
The City has deployed an emergency management structure to help organize and coordinate the response – including assigning several staff and external subject matter experts to assist. Currently officials are focused on working with King County, the state, partner agencies and local stakeholders to develop a firm plan to directly assist the families.
In addition, City staff have been in regular contact with church leaders and are advising them directly on various health, safety and sanitation needs for the site.
- Aid could be on the way soon for those living in migrant camp outside of Tukwila church – KING 5, 11/8/23
- Nowhere to lay their head: Hundreds of migrants making camp at Tukwila church– Real Change, 11/2/23
- Urgent need for resources as more than 300 migrants seek asylum at Tukwila church –FOX 13, 11/1/23
- Aid limited as asylum-seekers group at Tukwila church grows past 300 – Seattle Times, 10/26/23
- Hundreds of asylum seekers at Tukwila church receive hygiene kits – KOMO 4, 10/26/23
- Tukwila church stretched thin with migrant influx despite state of emergency declaration – KOMO 4, 10/22/23
- Migrant camp outside Tukwila church grows to more than 300 people – KING 5, 10/21/23
- For these asylum-seekers, a Tukwila church offers temporary comfort and refuge – KUOW, 10/16/23
- Partnerships to help asylum-seekers at Tukwila church take shape amid city’s state of emergency – KUOW, 10/10/23
- Tukwila mayor declares state of emergency amid influx of asylum seekers – KIRO 7, 10/9/23
- Tukwila mayor declares state of emergency to get help for dozens of migrants living at local church –KING 5, 10/8/23
- Federal, state, local officials look to help homeless migrants in Tukwila – Seattle Times, 10/7/23
How you can help
Many members of the community have reached out directly to city staff offering to help. For smaller donations (blankets, supplies, food, etc.) or offers to assist please contact RPUMC directly at JCIJ.NW@gmail.com.
School age asylee children can benefit from contributions to the 2023 Spirit of Giving campaign.
For large scale donations or housing proposals, please forward the inquiry to Pete Mayer, Acting Deputy City Administrator/Parks and Recreation Director, at email@example.com.