Mayor Ed Murray signs off on FOIA requests directed at the Department of Homeland Security regarding President Donald Trump's travel ban executive order. (Photo courtesy of Mayor Ed Murray's office.)

Washington leaders continue to resist Trump administration

Both Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have taken additional steps in defiance against the Trump Administration this week.

Inslee announced an executive order at a Thursday press conference. It won’t change state law whatsoever, but rather is designed to bolster the state against immigration actions from the federal government.

“This executive order makes clear that Washington will not be a willing participant in promoting or carrying out mean-spirited policies that break up families and compromise our national security and, importantly, our community safety,” Inslee said at the press conference.

Washington and Seattle both emerged as powerful players against President Donald Trump when Murray declared Seattle a sanctuary city and Inslee backed Attorney General Bob Ferguson in the lawsuit against Trump’s travel ban executive order, that he withdrew after courts decided against Trump twice.

The White House announced policy plans that could aggressively ramp up the deportation of undocumented immigrants, as explained in this New York Times article:

“Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.”

Inslee framed his executive order acts as a protective response.

“This executive order is designed to ensure that all state agencies under my executive authority carry out only those duties and responsibilities prescribed to them in state and federal law,” he said. “Their role is to fulfill missions of providing services to Washingtonians, not enforcing immigration statutes.”

Inslee argued that Trump’s actions and stances on immigration have already caused harm.

“I’ve heard principals say that kids are today afraid to come to school because of the anxiety that has been produced by the uncertainty, and the chaos and the lack of planning that has been the hallmark of this administration,” he said. “Washington state is a government that is meant to serve and we do not allow the acts of this administration to reduce our ability to serve the residents of this state.”

He also asserted that Trump’s immigration orders and plans would have more opportunity to cause harm than promote safety. If municipal officers are commandeered, and expected to act as federal immigration officers, witnesses of crimes could be more reluctant to speak with officers. Inslee was adamant about the state representing inclusivity:

“This executive order is not just for the benefit of those people who are college students today, who are dreamers, who are today protected by DACA. We appreciate their dreams and we’re glad they are at our universities and colleges, building on their dreams and ambitions. This is for them, but it is not just for them. It is not just for the people who may have been living here in Eastern Washington providing the food we eat for decades, who are now absolutely vital to our agricultural industry. It is for them, but it is not only for them. It is not only for those who build our homes and shelter us from this beautiful rain, who might have been in our communities for decades, paying taxes, and yes, millions of dollars in taxes. But it is not only for them. This executive is for all of us so that we can have law enforcement that does its job to protect us and is not interfered with by the fear produced by these actions…It is for all of us in these communities. We do this executive order so that Washington state can fulfill its obligations to its people.”

Earlier in the week Murray announced he was willing to sue the Trump administration if the White House failed to come through on the city’s Freedom of Information Act request.

The city is requesting information from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the drafting of the travel ban executive order.

Murray explained why the city was moving forward on this plan in a statement:

“President Trump’s executive order has created widespread confusion and fear in immigrant communities across the country. Seattle has been here before with the internment of Japanese Americans 75 years ago—we will not go back to those dark days. We will seek to determine the administration’s definition of ‘sanctuary cities’ and the enforcement actions the federal government may take against us.  We will also seek detailed information about the Administration’s changes to travel and immigration policy including the DACA program. It is the government’s duty to provide clear and accurate information to all residents and we are prepared to take action to get those answers.”

The federal government is required by law to respond to the FOIA requests within 20 days.

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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