Seattle votes to affirm commitment to immigrants, push back on federal orders

The city established funds to help immigrant families with programs such as the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Citizenship Workshop, held on Jan. 20 . (Photo by Alabastro Photography, courtesy OIRA)

To applause and to a standing ovation, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a “Welcoming City” resolution on Monday, which includes policies that push back on President Donald Trump’s executive orders targeting sanctuary cities and undocumented immigrants.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order that targeted cities with “sanctuary policies,” which would include Seattle, and threatened to pull funding from cities that do not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We recommit to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those who may be targeted by the Trump Administration and reject his attempts to bully us into abandoning our values of inclusion and opportunity,” said resolution sponsor Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez in a prepared statement on Monday. “Today, City Council stood as one to affirm that the City of Seattle is a welcoming city and we will do whatever necessary to keep it that way.”

Mayor Ed Murray agreed.

“We must ensure we stand united to protect communities targeted by hate and discrimination. This resolution sends a clear message that the city is an ally of all residents no matter their nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status,” he said in a prepared statement.

Two months ago, Murray signed an Executive Order that prohibited city employees to ask residents about their immigration status. The city also set aside $250,000 to address the needs of undocumented immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools and their families. That money has helped pay for events including the Jan. 20 immigration legal clinic organized for 1,000 immigrants.

Items in Monday’s resolution include:

  • A review of the potential policy and financial impacts of new federal initiatives on city departments;
  • A “rapid response” legal team specifically to respond to federal orders;
  • A Legal Defense Fund for immigrants and refugees;
  • A public awareness campaign around hate speech and crimes;
  • Plans for the money set aside to help refugee and immigrant families in the Seattle Public Schools;
  • Working with immigrant and refugee community stakeholders and community-based organizations;
  • Sharing knowledge and information about the city’s efforts with other local jurisdictions;
  • A requirement that all city grant recipients to be informed of the city’s policy against asking or collecting information on immigration status.

Immigration attorney Elaine Fordyce testified before vote that protections for immigrants are necessary to make sure that all people are willing to get the help that they need to stay safe.

“I met with another client this morning who said, ‘I don’t know who I should ask for help because my boyfriend keeps threatening to have me deported,’ ” she said. “These types of things have always been part of my job but they seem more unsettling now because I am not sure, I cant give a firm answer.”

“Just last week one of my coworkers was the target of racial insults getting off the bus and unfortunately this has become a very common occurrence after this election season,” said Casa Latina Executive Director Marcos Martinez who attended the meeting.

“Normally we would not need this kind of resolution because we would all assume that we all agree that all people are created equal,” he said. “But unfortunately, the recent election season and the last year couple of years has unleashed and empowered a level of hate that we have not seen in this country.”

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *