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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 26, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 04
Trump Justice Department: We'll subpoena King County officials over sanctuary policy King County and Seattle leaders: See you in court!
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Trump Justice Department: We'll subpoena King County officials over sanctuary policy King County and Seattle leaders: See you in court!

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Trump Justice Department threatened on January 24 to subpoena officials of 23 US cities and counties if they don't turn over information about their 'sanctuary' policies, designed to protect immigrants from harassment by federal agents.

One of those was King County - with 2.1 million people, one of the largest sanctuary jurisdictions in the country. The threat provoked a swift response from King County officials and from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

'I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,' Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in his January 24 statement. 'Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law.'

In response, King County Council Chair Joe McDermott and County Executive Dow Constantine issued a joint statement refuting Sessions' claims.

'The Department of Justice has ramped up its campaign of intimidation, threatening local officials who follow the law and protect local residents,' their statement read.

'To be clear, we comply with the requirements for the federal public safety grants. The Department of Justice's reckless actions threaten the safety of our communities.

'Just as we always follow the law, King County will always be a safe, welcoming place for all people.'

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also issued a statement promising to fight the Trump administration in court if it attempted to interfere with city policy, and noting that Seattle was not one of the jurisdictions threatened with subpoena, even though Sessions had admonished Seattle in the past.

'As a former US attorney, I'm prepared for a legal fight with this administration. Let's be clear: It's a fight that Donald Trump will lose,' she said.

'With today's announcement, it appears Seattle has successfully made the case to remain a welcoming city. But the fight to protect our citizens in all of King County continues.

'We will not allow our city and our state to be bullied by the President and Attorney General Sessions, who continue to threaten our shared values of inclusion, opportunity, and diversity. The administration's latest legal threats do nothing to make our communities safer.

'We do not seek out a fight, but if necessary, we will see President Trump and Attorney General Sessions in court. We have the law - and justice - on our side. We will keep working together to ensure that immigrants and refugees who believe in the promise of America are made to feel welcome here in our community. That includes ensuring that we have the resources in place to protect immigrants and refugees who are unjustly being put at risk.'

Other municipal officials across the country also spoke up against the Justice Department's threats.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would boycott a meeting with Trump at the White House scheduled for January 24.

'I will NOT be attending today's meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump's Department of Justice decided to renew [its] racist assault on our immigrant communities,' de Blasio tweeted. 'It doesn't make us safer, and it violates America's core values.'

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who serves as the president of the US Conference of Mayors, also said he would boycott the meeting.

'Unfortunately, the Trump administration's decision to threaten mayors and demonize immigrants yet again - and use cities as political props in the process - has made this meeting untenable,' Landrieu said.

The White House said it was 'disappointed' in the mayors who chose to skip the meeting but still held the event.

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