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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 31, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 13
Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions on immigration enforcement

Seattle sues Trump administration
Section One
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Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions on immigration enforcement

Seattle sues Trump administration

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The City of Seattle is suing the Trump administration over threats by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut off federal funding to so-called 'sanctuary cities.'

In its lawsuit, filed March 29, Seattle says that it is acting in accord with federal law and the US Constitution, and that the Trump administration has no cause to deny it federal funds to which it is entitled.

At issue is Trump's Executive Order 13768, which threatened to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities, and Sessions' reading of US Code 1373, the federal law which says cities cannot block federal authorities from gaining information about an individual's immigration status.

Sessions made a surprise appearance at a March 27 White House press conference to issue an ultimatum to sanctuary cities, including Seattle.

'The Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for DOJ grants to certify compliance with [US Code 1373] as a condition of receiving those awards,' he said.

'The president has rightly said disregard for law must end,' Sessions added. 'Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these laws.'

Seattle was clearly included in the threat, because City employees are directed not to inquire about residents' immigration status and to make City services available to every resident.

In a March 29 statement, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray bluntly rejected the federal threats.

'Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration and today we are taking legal action against President Trump's unconstitutional order,' Murray said.

'We have the law on our side: the federal government cannot compel our police department to enforce federal immigration law and cannot use our federal dollars to coerce Seattle into turning our backs on our immigrant and refugee communities. We simply won't do it. We are proud to be a welcoming city that is inclusive of all our residents. We are a safer more prosperous city because of our immigrant and refugee communities and will continue standing with them.'

Murray was joined by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who will shepherd the lawsuit through the federal court system.

'Like Monday's irresponsible press conference by the Attorney General, the Administration's continual saber rattling is causing real harm in America's cities,' Holmes stated.

'This lawsuit represents Seattle's attempt to mute histrionics in favor of a plain statement of the law. I hope the President will refrain from tweeting his legal opinion before our Courts have an opportunity to do so.'



The lawsuit, filed in US District Court, makes two main arguments about the Executive Order:

o 'The order is unconstitutional and ambiguous, and creates uncertainty around Seattle's budget by threatening federal funding. It violates the Tenth Amendment by attempting to force local entities to enforce federal immigration law; and violates the Spending Clause by attempting to coerce local action through the denial of federal funds.

o 'The City of Seattle and our welcoming city policies do not violate federal law. The Executive Order calls for localities to cooperate with the federal government and share information. City employees are directed to cooperate with, not hinder, federal actions; however, City employees are prohibited from inquiring into immigration status. The City does not prohibit information sharing, but instead limits the collection of information.'



According to the City's press release, Seattle would receive at least $55 million of federal funds to support its operating expenses in 2017. Seattle also receives federal contributions to its capital budget to support City construction and maintenance projects. For 2017, that will amount to $99 million.

Grants from Sessions' Justice Department are expected to come to $2.6 million in 2017. Those funds go to a number of projects, including domestic violence and youth violence prevention programs, human trafficking prosecutions, community policing, and police body cams.

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Ed Murray vs. Jeff Sessions on immigration enforcement

Seattle sues Trump administration

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