By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
Once the City of Seattle filed a lawsuit on Mar. 29 claiming President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut its federal money is unconstitutional, it drew national attention for joining the ranks of other defiant jurisdictions.
Mayor Ed Murray updated the city’s so-called “sanctuary city” status, as well as other issues at the March 31 Ethnic Media Roundtable for minority journalists at Seattle City Hall. Sanctuary jurisdictions (cities, counties, states) are generally described as areas that restrict cooperation with federal immigration authorities and don’t collect data on immigration status.
“I’ve started to call us starting today ‘constitutional cities’ because we are obeying the Constitution that tells us that the federal government cannot tell us how to use our police, and the federal government cannot punish us through the budget process,” he said.
Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s analyzed grants from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department Justice, ones viewed to be the most likely discretionary grant programs not exempt from Trump’s order.
According to its March 30 study of 10 sanctuary cities, including Seattle, these discretionary grants are less than 1 percent of their total revenue from government funds.
City councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Debora Juarez said in a joint statement issued two days before the roundtable event that the city’s immigrants paid $1.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2014, and about one-fifth of its population is foreign-born.
“Trump stands on the wrong side of history, and we know that morality, justice, and the rule of law will win the day,” they said.
After Trump issued his executive order on Jan. 25, the city asked the Trump administration to explain what Seattle is and is not legally required to do.
“They gave us an incomplete response to Freedom of Information Act requests, and that’s why we’re now going to court,” Murray said. “We’re not going to wait any longer.”
Families living in Seattle are at risk of being split up if some members are undocumented.
“Believe me, I’m a Democrat, and I believe in a strong federal government, but I never thought in my entire life I would find myself suing the federal government,” Murray said.
On improving the local economy and housing affordability, he said, “We simply have to create better jobs as a nation, and we have to create more housing.”
“Homelessness is growing exponentially,” he said and mentioned city services aimed at such related problems as addiction and mental health care.
Murray added, “We have one of the largest homeless service programs in the nation. I think we’re number three, and what we’ve done is we are changing how we offer these services so that we give the money to organizations who can prove that they can get results.”
One proposed enhanced homeless shelter known as the Navigation Center — set to open in the Pearl Warren Building in Little Saigon — is on pause. Seattle’s version is modeled after the San Francisco Navigation Center, which opened in 2015.
Over the past several weeks, meetings — the last one on March 10 — have been held for public comment.
The City of Seattle is working with Little Saigon community members on a plan that addresses several key issues raised by residents and business owners in the Chinatown/International District and the Little Saigon Business District.
The Navigation Center’s enhanced homeless shelter model is a 24-hour, dormitory-style shelter and service center for homeless people as they transition to permanent housing.
The next public meeting on the Navigation Center will be held on Monday, April 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the International District Community Center, 719 8th Ave. S., in Seattle.
James Tabafunda can be reached at email@example.com.