If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's an adage that gave civil rights activists a small victory June 24 at the King County Council, which has agreed to take another look at legislation that would prohibit county employees -- including the sheriff and her deputies -- from asking people about their immigration status unless federal law specifically requires it.
The proposed ordinance, which is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, would be similar to Seattle's, says ACLU spokesperson Doug Honig, and is important in promoting equal treatment and public safety for everyone concerned.
"When you have local officials trying to enforce federal immigration law, they typically will focus on people who to them appear dark-skinned and it ends up promoting racial profiling," Honig says. Also, "it can make people reluctant to report crimes or to seek health care, which is why you often have public health officials and law enforcement officials supporting ordinances like this."
Councilmember Larry Gossett first proposed the ordinance in March, but the legislation never got onto the council's schedule -- something a group of activists pleaded for June 24 in a mini-demonstration in council chambers. As a result, Gossett and co-sponsors Dow Constantine, Bob Ferguson and Larry Phillips have a council briefing scheduled for July 1 at 9:30 a.m.