When Seattle City Council member Lorena González on Monday opposed a routine bill, which authorized the city to accept $12 million in funding from outside sources, she said she didn't know her vote would ultimately sink the legislation that day.
González opposed it when she saw that it included accepting a $90,000 grant from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for services the Seattle Police Department offered, saying she felt strongly that Seattle shouldn't accept money from the federal agency as a sanctuary city. After her explanation on the dais, council member Lisa Herbold voted with her.
That left just four of the six present council members supporting the bill that would provide the city with $12.1 million in reimbursement costs. Legislation needs five council members, a majority, to pass. Juarez had just gotten off the phone, and Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant were absent.
When the bill failed, council president Bruce Harrell and council member Sally Bagshaw explained that the city needed the $12 million in grants by the end of the year to make its payments, prompting council members to scramble for a special meeting before their recess.
Eight council members on Wednesday unanimously supported the funding, this time with an amendment that solely rejects the $90,000 ICE grant. (Two council members, Juarez and González, phoned in.)
"My council colleagues raised some concerns about accepting this money, even though the services had already been provided and it would be a reimbursement," Bagshaw said. "That said, I'm willing to compromise and remove the $90,085 line item relating to Homeland Security Investigations to allow the rest of the package to be passed."
The ICE funding line item said it would reimburse SPD for overtime "associated with investigations related to narcotics, money, and other contraband at ports and borders."
While Bagshaw said the reimbursement doesn't involve immigration enforcement, González—whose parents were previously undocumented—on Monday maintained that she couldn't support an ongoing partnership between SPD and ICE in any capacity and continued to have questions about it.
"It's very rare that I would vote no to reject money that is coming to us, but I feel really strongly that I can't vote in favor of accepting a grant from ICE," González said Monday. "I think that I still continue to have a lot of concerns about how [Homeland Security Investigations] bleeds into some areas of immigration enforcement."
After the bill failed, González added: "I voted no on this in part thinking that this was not going to be very controversial. ... I appreciate that this needs to get done before the end of the year and hope that we can find a path forward to appropriately separate those issues and/or address the reality of the council attendance issues."
The $12.1 million comes from 45 grants without the ICE funding, including: $1.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Seattle Fire Department for defense training; $2.2 million from FEMA to SPD for terrorism preparedness and emergency training; and $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to SPD for diversion and treatment services for opioid abuse.
The bill also allowed the city to accept a $25 million subsidized loan from the state Department of Ecology, which will be used to pay for Seattle Public Utilities' designs for a storage tunnel aimed to reduce water pollution into Lake Washington.