–Councilmember M. Lorena González, chair of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee, joined community leaders and other elected officials today to reaffirm that Seattle is a Welcoming City, with protocols and policies in place to ensure city employees do not share sensitive personal data when interacting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In light of the news that the King County Sheriff’s Office and King County jail provided personally identifying information of detainees to ICE, despite a county law that prohibits King County government agencies from sharing information with ICE without a judicial warrant, Councilmember González issued the following statement:
“The King County Auditor’s finding that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents obtained access to nonpublic information about people arrested and booked by King County agencies was a violation of the county’s own laws and a deeply concerning finding,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González. “This failure put hundreds of Seattle and King County residents at increased risk of deportation and that is unacceptable and in contravention to our joint efforts of investing in the resilience of immigrants and refugees. For years, members of the local immigrant rights movement fought hard for and have won several protections at the City, County, and State for immigrants and their families. But the policy wins are just half the battle. As elected officials, we have an obligation to make sure that laws are implemented consistent with the intent. That did not happen in this instance and that is extremely disappointing.”
“I am heartened to hear that King County is taking the Auditor’s recommendations seriously and that they are already taking steps to fully comply with county laws to prevent ICE agents access to nonpublic information. This is an important step towards restoring the trust that has been eroded in our immigrant community.
“Together, Seattle and King County must continue to fight for our immigrant residents and protect them to the best of our legal ability. Early last year, in Seattle I worked with the Mayor’s Office to ensure we have strong protections and protocols around sensitive data requests. Executives must ensure that every level of City employees, from directors to frontline staff, understand their duties and responsibilities under those laws. Protocols on sensitive data must be understood by every City employee while complying with federal and City laws, such as our 2003 ‘don’t ask’ law that prohibits City employees from limiting access to City-funded services because of immigration status. I am grateful for the ongoing commitment of our City employees to serving everyone in Seattle, regardless of their status.”