Days after President Trump signed an executive order threatening to cut federal funding to cities that “shield” undocumented immigrants, Seattle holds steadfast in its defiance of the order. On Monday, January 30, 2017, the Seattle City Council adopted a resolution affirming Seattle as a Welcoming City, vowing to protect all its residents “regardless of religious affiliation or documentation status.”
The resolution comes after a weekend of protests against President Trump’s executive order that temporarily bans all refugees, as well as immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, from entering the United States. That order, which is facing legal challenge, applies even to legal permanent residents of the United States who are natives of the seven named countries. The order is widely seen as Trump coming through on his campaign trail rhetoric about banning Muslims from entering the U.S., and his actions are sparking protests around the country. Washington State became the first in the nation to challenge the order in court, calling it “unlawful.”
The turnout at the meeting at the Seattle City Council meeting where Councilmember Lorena González introduced the resolution was so large that both the council chambers and overflow section were filled to capacity. Comments from members of the public were largely voiced in support of the resolution, with some who opposed it.
“Seattle is home to foreign nationals from all over the world, including Syria, Iraq, Iran and Somalia,” said González. “They are not terrorists — they are our neighbors, our parents, our aunts, our uncles, our brothers, our sisters. They are Seattleites and they are Americans.”
Two other immigration-related executive orders signed by President Trump just a few days earlier directed “immediate construction of a physical wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border, enhanced measures to detain and deport illegal immigrants, and denial of federal funds to cities that maintain sanctuary city policies.
Mayor Ed Murray, who has repeatedly affirmed Seattle’s sanctuary city status, held a press conference in response to those orders on January 25. “We will fight any attempt by the federal government to strip federal funding from this city,” he said.
Following the unanimous vote on Monday, the Mayor Murray issued a statement in support of the resolution: “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.”
Trump immigration orders cite “public safety” as a primary reason for the directives. As both Councilmember González and Mayor Murray pointed out, a recent study from the Center for American Progress, an independent, non-partisan policy institute, found that throughout the country, sanctuary counties have lower crime rates and stronger local economies than non-sanctuary counties.
“The City of Seattle relies on its immigrant and refugee residents to foster our economic growth and cultural vibrancy,” said Gonzalez in a statement issued by the city. “Today, the 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.”
@Lailakaz — Laila Kazmi is an award-winning senior producer and writer at KCTS 9. Her first love is discovering and telling stories of diverse people, places, and history. She has lived in Karachi, Bahrain, Chicago, and Seattle. Laila is the series producer for Borders & Heritage, which features stories of immigrant and refugee experience in the Pacific Northwest and for Reel NW, featuring independent films from and about the Pacific Northwest. She also produces stories for IN Close and produced for PIE. Laila's video stories have appeared on KCTS 9, PBS NewsHour Art Beat, World Channel at WGBH, and KPBS. Her articles have been published in PBS NewsHour Art Beat, The Seattle Times, Seattle PI, COLORLINES, and Pakistan's daily Dawn.More stories by Laila Kazmi