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City council passes bills to support immigrant communities

They aim to oppose anti-immigrant policies federally and protect immigrants locally

A February rally in support of DACA recipient Daniel Ramirez Medina.
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

City councilor Lorena González presented two pieces of legislation today designed to create a welcoming city for immigrants. Both measures passed unanimously.

One resolution is designed to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, a program protects certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children from deportation.

It also states that the city council and mayor both oppose threats from the federal government to withhold funding over immigration policy and the use of federal funds to build a border wall. The bill also opposes legislation that promotes “racial profiling, discrimination, and harassment of immigrant communities and their families.”

The bill includes a commitment to working with other municipalities and advocacy groups to create “policies to protect historically marginalized communities, especially immigrants,” including privacy protection concerning personal immigration status information and “limiting the co-opting of local police” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The next piece of legislation more wholly concerns local law enforcement, seeking to protect victims of crime. It directs city departments, including the Seattle Police Department, to “build knowledge, capacity, and trust for immigrant victims, survivors, and witnesses to feel safer in reporting crimes” in a linguistically and culturally-competent way.

Interim mayor Tim Burgess said in a statement that he plans to sign both pieces of legislation, along with an executive order related to multilingual access to city services.

Seattle has already been considered a sanctuary city by most definitions since 2003, when the city passed ordinance that barring law enforcement officials from inquiring about residents’ immigration status.

But with the Trump administration ending the DACA program, renewed threats from the administration to withhold funding from so-called “sanctuary cities,” and more recently, a raid in the state that ICE claimed specifically targeted such cities, the city’s been ramping up support for its immigrant and refugee residents.

González, along with then-city councilor Burgess, previously brought legislation to establish a legal defense fund for local immigrants and refugees. The city has also filed suit against the Trump administration over threats to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities.”