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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 2, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 49
Seattle will continue to be a 'welcoming city,' mayor says
Section One
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Seattle will continue to be a 'welcoming city,' mayor says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order on Thanksgiving Day reaffirming that Seattle will continue to be a 'welcoming city.'

The order states that City employees will not ask about the immigration status of residents and that all City services will be available to all residents.

Murray's order also creates an Inclusive and Equitable City Cabinet that will coordinate City efforts to protect the civil liberties and civil rights of all Seattle residents.

In addition, the City will set aside $250,000 to address the needs of undocumented immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools and their families.

'Except for our Native peoples, we are all from someplace else, and we are strong because of our diversity,' Murray said in a statement.

'It is my commitment that Seattle will remain a welcoming city, not a place where children and their families live in fear. This Thanksgiving we reaffirm our values of inclusion and equity, and our City policies that reflect them. All our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and families should feel safe and welcome when they need services, contact our police and fire departments, or interact with the City in other ways. And we will work to provide our immigrant students with the support they and their families need.'

Murray's action reinforced a 2003 City ordinance designating Seattle a 'sanctuary city,' shielding residents from federal immigration authorities.

The ordinance instructed the Seattle Police Department (SPD) not to ask residents about their immigration status without 'a reasonable suspicion' that the person had 'previously been deported from the United States' and is or had 'committed a felony criminal-law violation.'

Reaffirming Seattle's status as a 'welcoming' or 'sanctuary' city may jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding if Donald Trump is serious about his threat to cut off money to cities that fail to cooperate with his plans to deport undocumented immigrants.

For example, Seattle and King County received a record $28 million in federal homeless assistance grants last January. That included $3.6 million to create new housing opportunities.

The City's 2017-18 budget plans increased spending on homelessness services that could be jeopardized by loss of federal money.

One of the tasks for the planned Inclusive and Equitable City Cabinet will be to 'review potential implications on City departments of any new initiatives and [the] intent of the incoming Presidential administration' - in other words, how to deal with a possible loss of federal funds.

In addition, the group will 'develop public awareness efforts around hate speech and crimes' and 'collaborate with immigrant and refugee communities to identify areas of need and new or expanded efforts for partnership.'

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