President Donald Trump used his Twitter account Friday to call for all undocumented immigrants to be sent to “sanctuary cities” like Seattle, contradicting statements by his own administration made just the day before.
There is no hard and fast definition of a sanctuary city, but in Seattle it means that local law enforcement will not generally ask about a person’s immigration status and will not assist federal officials that are pursuing immigration cases. It does not mean that undocumented people receive protection against federal government arrest or prosecution.
However, the president has made clear his objection to the policy and said in a tweet that he was “giving strong consideration” to the idea of dropping undocumented people off in sanctuary cities.
“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!” Trump tweeted with his usual disregard for capitalization, punctuation and the general concept of grammar.
Mayor Jenny Durkan clapped back, accusing the president of undermining both morality and public safety.
“This threat is yet another inhumane proposal from a White House that continues to separate children from parents and hold them in deplorable conditions. It is against our values to use people — including children and families in crisis — as political pawns,” Durkan said. “Seattle will continue to fight for the dignity of every person and will not allow any administration to use the power of America to destroy the promise of America.”
According to Dara Lind, a senior reporter at Vox who covers immigration, it’s unclear who the president wants to ship off to sanctuary cities. It could be people held in immigration detention, it could be people seeking asylum at the border or it could be both.
The threat came just days after Trump fired the top five officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement in the United States. According to various reports, Kirstjen Nielsen, the former head of the agency who lied about and ultimately pursued the policy to separate families at the border, was not “tough enough” for the president and his hardline immigration advisor Stephen Miller.
As of Friday, April 12, there were 57 people running for seven seats on the Seattle City Council.
The most recent person to enter the race is Zachary DeWolf, a current member of the Seattle Public Schools school board and new challenger to Councilmember Kshama Sawant in District 3.
It is already a crowded primary, with the largest amount of competition in District 6, the seat currently held by Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who announced in February that he would not seek re-election.
The vast majority of candidates — 45 of 57 — are either qualified or trying to qualify for Democracy Vouchers, a publicly funded program meant to take big money out of local politics. All Seattleites who are 18 or older and are either a U.S. national, “green card” holder or a U.S. citizen can receive four vouchers worth $25 each.
Candidates qualify for the program when they receive the requisite number of signatures and $10 donations.
Shaun Scott, a candidate in District 4 to replace Rob Johnson and former interim editor at Real Change, has the most Democracy Vouchers at this point in the race.
At least one other, Ari Hoffman in District 2, is actively trying to undermine the program by requesting that supporters either shred their vouchers or sign them over to him, rendering them useless.
The primary isn’t for four months, but candidate forums are already going. Speak Out Seattle, an organization that opposed a business tax to fund the fight against homelessness, is holding one in each district.
Opponents to the group have called on candidates to boycott those forums, with limited success.
Homelessness is already a key issue in the race, with candidates staking out their positions on the spectrum between criminal justice hardliners and Housing for All advocates.
However the tide turns, with councilmembers Johnson (D-4), O’Brien (D-6), Sally Bagshaw (D-7) and Bruce Harrell (D-2) formally out of the race, 2020 will be a sea change for Seattle politics.
Knight to D4
No matter how the current City Council race shakes out, there will be a new person representing District 4.
Councilmember Rob Johnson announced his plans to accept a job with the National Hockey League (NHL) in advance of the unnamed NHL team’s arrival in Seattle.
(The Krackens. The team should obviously be named The Krackens. What is wrong with all of you?)
The move means that someone has to represent District 4, which encompasses the University District, among other neighborhoods. According to the City Clerk’s Office, 13 people who live in the district applied for the temporary spot.
On Monday, April 15, the city held a public forum to vet the candidates. Next steps include a three-minute presentation and, ultimately, appointment by the City Council on Monday, April 22.
The last time the city had to replace a sitting councilmember was in 2017 after Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid allegations of sexual abuse of children. Councilmember Tim Burgess filled his role for 56 days and Kirsten Harris-Talley accepted his seat.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read the full April 17 - 23 issue.
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