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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 08
Gov. Inslee, Mayor Murray defy Trump on immigration
Section One
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Gov. Inslee, Mayor Murray defy Trump on immigration

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are defying Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration.

On February 23, Inslee issued his own executive order explicitly prohibiting state agencies from inquiring about a person's immigration status, participating in federal immigration raids, or aiding in the creation of a religious registry.

Shortly after signing the order, Inslee appeared at a press conference in Olympia, where he promised that Washington 'will not be a willing participant in mean-spirited policies that break up families and compromise our national security, and most importantly our community safety.'

His new executive order does not contravene federal law, Inslee insisted, because state agencies will honor a federal criminal arrest warrant if one is presented. However, they will not participate in immigrant roundups, because immigration charges are civil offenses, not criminal ones.

The state has already suffered significant harm from Trump administration actions so far, Inslee charged. School students are afraid to come to school, and people are disenrolling from state programs for fear of being reported to the federal government. Witnesses to crimes, he added, are too afraid to speak to state law enforcement officers for fear that their immigration status will get them deported.

The executive order, he said, would allow state agencies - including state law enforcement - to do their jobs. Inslee's General Counsel Nick Brown added that the governor's order simply clarifies existing state law.

Inslee also promised to fight any administration attempt to retaliate against the state. 'If [the White House] thinks they're going to jerk away the state's Medicaid money because we won't become mini ICE agents, they're wrong,' he said.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray threatened to sue the administration to force it to reveal its plans for so-called 'sanctuary cities.'

In his State of the City speech on February 21, Murray revealed that he had filed public records requests with multiple federal agencies. The requests ask for information about what enforcement actions federal agencies may take against sanctuary cities like Seattle.

He said the city is filing the records requests because immigrants and refugees in Seattle need that information.

Murray's filings call for the federal agencies to provide Seattle 'all records and plans pertaining to the intent and enforcement' of the executive order on sanctuary cities. The requests also seek details about what immigration laws are changing. In particular, the city is seeking information on the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program (DACA) program that gives some children temporary legal status.

If federal officials fail to reply within 20 days, Murray said, he'll sue.

'Remaining open to all is a fundamental value of this city. Seattle is a great city because of immigrants and refugees. In today's atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, we reaffirm our commitment that we will remain a welcoming city for all,' Murray said in his speech.

Undocumented immigrants make up nearly 5% of Washington's workforce, and 'DREAMers' -immigrants brought to the United States as children and legally authorized to be here under Obama's DACA program - number more than 17,000 in the state.

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