Council Urges Federal Comprehensive Immigration Reform to Help Seattle Families

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City of Seattle

Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Council Urges Federal Comprehensive Immigration Reform to Help Seattle Families

SEATTLE – City Council unanimously adopted a resolution today emphasizing the importance of family unity and calling upon the Obama Administration to stop deportations of undocumented residents without serious criminal convictions. It also calls for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and urges the administration to end the use of the I-9 audits that have resulted in the firing of hundreds of undocumented workers in Seattle.

The federal government’s stated priority is the deportation of individuals with serious criminal convictions, yet the majority of those deported have only minor convictions, or no convictions whatsoever. Deportations have reached an annual national average of nearly 400,000 people since 2009.

The resolution also urges Congress to increase funding for resettlement services, to support family unity with the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that eliminates visa backlogs and to give immigration judges discretion in immigration and deportation proceedings.

Finally, the resolution calls on the City of Seattle to redouble efforts to inform the immigrant and refugee community of their legal rights and Seattle’s policies related to their immigration status, including options to qualify for different types of immigration status.

The prime sponsor of the resolution, Councilmember Nick Licata said, “The City of Seattle has a long history of supporting the immigrant and refugee communities, including the passage of an ordinance that I led the Council in passing in 2003, referred to as the ‘Don’t Ask Law,’ which prohibits police officers and city officials from inquiring into individuals’ immigration status.” The Council has also passed other resolutions urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“The 57,000 children currently detained by the Obama Administration, as well as the two million immigrants already deported, are being punished for the crime of poverty and desperation, which is largely a product of U.S. military and economic policy,” said co-sponsor Councilmember Kshama Sawant. “I hope this resolution will help motivate working people to continue organizing to transform society from one that serves the needs of corporations to one that improves the lives of working people all over, so that nobody has to immigrate to escape poverty and desperation.”

“Immigration policy should be inclusive, fair and considerate of children and families,” said co-sponsor Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “Approximately one-third of children in Seattle are in immigrant families. It will be mutually beneficial to us all in creating healthy and safe communities by keeping families together.”

[View in Council Newsroom]