Seattle Helps Fight Trump's Threat to Pull Funding from Cities That Won't Enforce Immigration Laws

Seattle joined 36 other local governments in support of Chicago's lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Hayat Norimine August 31, 2017

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Seattle on Thursday joined 36 other local governments to file a brief in support of Chicago's legal fight against the U.S. Department of Justice's new conditions withholding federal law enforcement aid from sanctuary cities.

The DOJ's new conditions bar municipalities that don't cooperate with federal immigration laws from receiving grants from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, the largest source of federal funding for police agencies. Chicago filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois earlier this month, arguing that the conditions are unconstitutional and undermines local control for law enforcement. 

"Our law enforcement officials patrol our streets, operate our jails, investigate and prosecute crimes, and secure justice for victims," the brief stated. It's authored by the County of Santa Clara in California. "To fulfill these responsibilities, amici cities and counties must build and maintain the trust of our residents, regardless of their immigration status, and we must be able to adopt policies which foster that trust and meet our communities' unique needs."

City officials also said the new policy puts public safety at risk and creates a class of "silent victims."

“We will not be intimidated into these unconstitutional policies and will not turn our backs on immigrant and refugee communities,"Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement released Thursday. "Seattle is a welcoming city and we are safer and more prosperous because of our inclusive policies. We stand together with our diverse communities and leaders across the country by joining this lawsuit. The law and history is on our side.”

The governments filed the brief as a deadline approached for President Donald Trump to decide on whether to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Council member Lorena Gonzalez joined more than 1,860 leaders signing a statement in solidarity with Dreamers.

Seattle and King County on Monday announced awards of more than $1.5 million in a legal defense fund to provide legal services to immigrants and refugees.

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