Seattle City Council
3/14/2006 11:48:00 AM
Mike Fong (206) 684-8808
Tatsuo Nakata (206) 684-8806
CITY URGES FAIR AND JUST IMMIGRATION REFORM
Bi-partisan McCain-Kennedy bill supported by City Council
SEATTLE - At its most recent meeting, the City Council weighed in on federal immigration reform legislation that could have sweeping impacts on thousands of Seattle residents. In a unanimous vote, the Council adopted a resolution urging Washington's Congressional delegation to support bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, as proposed by Senators McCain and Kennedy. The bill is strong on civil rights and civil liberties provisions. At the urging of local labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce and human service agencies, the resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and David J. Della and co-sponsored by the entire City Council.
"Real, meaningful national immigration reform is long overdue," said Rasmussen. "It's time we recognize the enormous contributions of all immigrants to the economy and productivity of our community."
Significant local concerns have been raised about a competing immigration reform bill introduced (and adopted by the House of Representatives) by Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R). His bill would criminalize violations of federal immigration law and instantly make every undocumented immigrant a felon. It would require Seattle police officers to enforce immigration laws and place millions of federal grant dollars to help refugee and immigrant communities in jeopardy.
"We can't turn our backs on thousands of Seattleites just because of where they were born," said Councilmember David Della, himself the son of immigrants. "Our city is world-class because of contributions from many people from all over. When we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, Seattle has a real stake in ensuring that it is fair and just. We owe this to the thousands of families who help make up the rich, diverse fabric of Seattle."
Longstanding City policy has been to support a social service network that assists refugee and immigrant communities regardless of legal status and providing equal services to all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, or immigration status. City law also prohibits Seattle Police from requesting specific documents for the sole purpose of determining a person's civil immigration status, and that officers may not initiate police action based solely on this information. The Sensenbrenner bill would force the City to reverse its' policies or place millions in federal funding in jeopardy.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have introduced a bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. Their legislation would (among other provisions) create a path for undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship, enable employers to legally hire needed immigrant workers and launch a foundation for charitable contributions to support English language instruction for immigrants.
Seattle City Councilmembers are in Washington D.C. this week lobbying on local issues including support of the McCain-Kennedy bill.