The sanctuary city of Seattle announced on Wednesday it is suing the federal government to block a federal funding loss over its refusal to cooperate with immigration authorities.
“Apparently, the Trump administration, their war on facts, has now become a war on cities,” said Seattle mayor Ed Murray during a press conference. “And our values… our values are the ones that we will stand by. “Let me be clear about the facts: We are not breaking any laws and we are prioritizing safety.”
“And let me be clear about the president’s executive order: It is violating the law. It is unconstitutional,” he added, referring to an executive order issued in January that would strip sanctuary cities of certain federal grants.
Seattle is the county seat of King County, which has sanctuary city policies in place. Police will not a detainer request for an illegal alien in custody unless the illegal is: “Convicted of a homicide at any time in the past; Convicted of a violent, serious, sex, or serious traffic offense within the past 10 years; or Released from prison after serving sentence for violent, serious, sex, or serious traffic offense conviction, among other criteria,” according to a map published by the Center for Immigration Studies. These policies have been in place since 2013.
Seattle has filed its suit in a U.S. district court against President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Murray called the Trump administration’s actions “illegal,” saying that the Tenth Amendment does not allow the federal government to force local governments to uphold federal law. The federal government may not “coerce local governments by threatening to deny them federal dollars if they are not germane to the program in question,” Murray said.
“Bullying and misstating the facts will not stand in the way of making sure that the laws, the real laws in this country are enforced,” he added.
Murray was irked by Sessions saying sanctuary cities were not prioritizing safety.
“When we welcome immigrants into our communities, dedicate resources to helping immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, and… integrate immigrant schoolchildren into our schools and classrooms, we do this because it’s a welcoming city,” Murray said. “It fosters safety. It’s when you marginalize people and drive them away from city services, and make them fearful of the police, and push them underground, that these communities become unsafe and then the city of Seattle becomes unsafe.”
President Trump’s executive order threatening to slash federal funding from sanctuary cities’ budgets has defiant mayors promising they will continue to shield illegal aliens accused of crimes from federal immigration authorities.
But that could shut down projects and programs dependent on federal money.
A spokesman for Murray said earlier this year $85 million of the city’s $5 billion budget is at stake. In January, Murray told a crowd he would be willing to sacrifice “every single penny” of federal money, including $10 million for the Seattle Police Department, if keeping it meant cooperating with federal immigration authorities to deport illegal aliens accused or convicted of committing further crimes in the U.S. (Trump’s executive order excludes law enforcement in the cuts.)
The Seattle Department of Transportation spent $14.8 million of federal funds last year, according to one report, and stands to lost some $10 million in 2017 according to another estimate. And in 2018, there are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, says one independent analyst:
The big loser would be [the Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT; it stands to lose $10.2 million in 2017 and $118.3 million in 2018. And actually, it’s much worse, because SDOT is counting on another $75 million in next year’s as-yet-unapproved federal budget for the new Center City Streetcar line that it hasn’t added to the city’s official budget yet. But SDOT would also lose almost $55 million for the South Lander Street overpass, $10 million for the Broadway streetcar extension, $8 million for bridge repair and replacement, $4.2 million for the electrification of Metro bus route 48, and almost $77 million in miscellaneous funds for operating and maintaining transportation corridors in the city in 2017 and the years beyond.
Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) also needs federal money to operate and assist the city’s poor, elderly, homeless, and vulnerable.
Sanctuary city policies are deeply unpopular amongst an overwhelming majority of voters, Session said at the White House on Monday: “According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that make arrests—that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes — should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities. Unfortunately, some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate this enforcement of immigration laws,” he said.
“[I]n a single week, there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests with respect to individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime,” Sessions said, pointing to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security. “These charges and convictions against these aliens include drug trafficking, hit-and-run, rape, sex offenses against a child and even murder. Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets.”