Nobody punched a Nazi but Seattle City Council member and the daughter of a family of immigrants Lorena González vowed Wednesday to help lead her city to push back on President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.
“We will fight,” González said Wednesday afternoon on the steps of Seattle’s City Hall.
Earlier in the day, Trump unleashed the new executive order setting the groundwork for his pet Mexican border wall project and for cutting federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities, his latest blast in a first week in office marked by preliminary attacks on undocumented immigrants, civil rights, women’s health, the Affordable Care Act, and the environment.
Mayor Ed Murray Wednesday called the order the “darkest day of immigration history in America” since the Japanese internment during World War II.
“The executive orders are counter to our constitution and a threat to this city’s values,” Murray said.
The mayor said he has launched a new directive of his own asking his departments to begin reprioritization of budgets to prepare for cuts. While he said he “could go to ballot to ask citizens for more revenue,” the mayor said he believes the courts will put any punitive actions to a quick stop. “It is chilling but much of the language is about what they are about to do not what they have done,” Murray said.
Last Thanksgiving, Murray signed an executive order reaffirming policies including a 2003 ordinance prohibiting city officers or employees to ask people about immigration status. In Seattle, only ICE and other federal agencies are supposed to enforce laws related to undocumented residents. However, Seattle officers can inquire about status if there is reason think the person is back in the U.S. after being previously deported and if they are committing or have committed a felony. CHS reported on Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city here.
In addition to the rallies and protests against the new administration, Inauguration Day in Seattle included a City Hall-led immigration and legal services clinic at Seattle Center that helped around 1,500 families, Murray said.
Murray said that estimates put Seattle funding at risk under Trump’s executive order near $75 million — around 1.5% of the city’s $5 billion budget. The biggest risk, Murray said, is around $10 million currently earmarked for the Seattle Police Department.
SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she joined the mayor in rejecting the premise of Trump’s order pointed to positions supporting sanctuary cities from the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association.
“We are not alone,” O’Toole said.
The association which represents police leaders in “the largest cities in the United States, Canada and the UK” contends, O’Toole said, that local immigration enforcement undermines trust with immigrant populations.
In his first week in office, Trump’s executive orders are picking up where his Twitter stream has left off. Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters rallied in Westlake and briefly shut down the mall after another Trump executive order to revive construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline by inviting TransCanada to resubmit its cross-border permit. The pipeline executive order joins a growing roster of efforts Trump is moving forward that will now have to overcome government process and the courts before becoming reality.
Procedural and legal barriers or not, González said not only is it time for Seattle to fight back against “becoming an extension of Homeland Security” but that the city should “double down” on its commitment to immigrants.
“Today’s executive orders are being sold to the American people as being necessary for public safety,” González said.
“These orders do not keep us safe. Today’s executive orders represent prejudice. It represents isolationism and hate.”
On Monday, the council member said she plans to introduce a “Welcoming City” resolution. “Welcoming Cities are guided by the principles of inclusion and creating communities that prosper because everyone feels welcome, including immigrants and refugees,” according to welcomingamerica.org.