Gov. Jay Inslee today signed an executive order forbidding state agencies from aiding the Trump administration in its crackdown on illegal immigration.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released documents that, as the New York Times put it, unleashes “the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.” While the effort would obviously be led by federal agents, the documents call for the enlistment of “local police officers as enforcers,” the Times reports.
Inslee’s order states that no such enlistments will come from state ranks. “The Washington State Patrol or Department of Corrections, or other executive or small cabinet agency with arrest powers…shall not arrest solely for violation of federal civil immigration laws, except as otherwise required by federal or state law or authorized by the Governor. Specifically, no agency may enter into any agreements with the federal government authorizing such authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.” It also orders state agencies to not withhold state services based on immigration status or request “specific documents…in order to ascertain a person’s immigration status for the sole purpose of identifying if a person has complied with federal civil immigration law.”
It also forbids the state from helping in “creation of any federal program requiring registration of individuals on the basis of religious affiliation…”
The order follows Seattle and other Washington cities committing to not volunteer any assistance to immigration action; in his state of the city address on Tuesday, Mayor Ed Murray said the city planned to file a Freedom of Information Act request to “seek to determine … enforcement actions the federal government may take against us” for being a sanctuary city.
However, there is only so much local agencies can do to protect undocumented immigrants, as illustrated by the recent arrest of a Latino man enrolled in the so-called “Dreamer” program meant to shield people brought to the U.S. as children from immigration enforcement. And as part of the immigration crackdown, the Trump administration announced Tuesday it would do more to publicize crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. As we reported last month, Seattle and King County would almost certainly, unwittingly, aid in that effort.