Seattle, King County brush off Sessions’ pledge to cut federal funds over ‘sanctuary’ policies

Seattle City Hall. (Photo by City of Seattle via Flickr.)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Monday told reporters that cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities could lose funding.

Local leaders of Seattle and King County reacted Monday by promising to continue their pledges to not share immigration information with federal authorities.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and City Attorney Pete Holmes issued a press release, which echoed their remarks after President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order earlier this year, outlining the change in policy.

“If Attorney General Sessions is so concerned about Seattle’s safety, pulling law enforcement dollars from cities nationwide is the height of hypocrisy and makes us less safe,” Murray said. “Research shows cities with larger foreign-born populations experience less violent crime. Bigotry, not safety, seems to be at the heart of the White House immigration policy.”

“Just like the original executive order targeting so-called ‘sanctuary cities,’ today’s press statements in D.C. provided little if any legal clarity to guide otherwise law abiding Welcoming Cities like Seattle,” Holmes said

King County last week was identified by the Department of Homeland Security as a jurisdiction that had declined requests by federal immigration authorities to hold people scheduled for release who had been in jail in connection with local charges.

King County Executive Dow Constantine questioned the federal government’s legal authority to place conditions on the funds.

“The White House continues to use fear to try to divide us. Their intent is clear, but the legal authority is not. If this is about complying with federal law, King County should continue to receive federal funds for important criminal justice programs.”

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