Sanctuary policies in Seattle and King County have put some money on the line, and drawn questions from the feds. Local officials defended their position this week against what they call a threat to withhold federal law enforcement aid.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes summed up the city’s response to the Department of Justice Department this way:
“It sends a strong clear message that Seattle will not be pushed around by the Trump administration,” Holmes said.
This comes in response to a letter last month from DOJ to Seattle and King County. The feds raised concerns about policies that forbid city and county staff from asking about someone’s immigration status.
DOJ says this practice may violate a federal law that requires local governments to share immigration data.
“If you don’t collect the information, you can’t be required to give it,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
During a news conference, Durkan said local policies fully comply with federal law and that the city will not back down from protecting undocumented residents.
“These are people’s lives,” Durkan said. “You have young children returning home and their parents have been taken. Or you have people who are looking over their shoulder every day, wondering if the trip to the grocery store is safe.”
The Justice Department sent similar letters last month to 29 to jurisdictions that receive public safety grants, stating the grant recipients are required to cooperate with immigration enforcement.
Seattle’s grant pays for three police officers focused on crime prevention.