Governor’s order limits state agencies enforcing immigration laws

By Enrique Pérez de la Rosa

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed an executive order to limit state agencies’ help in enforcing federal civil immigration laws.

With the governor’s order, which was signed Feb. 24, Washington state agencies are prohibited from demanding documents regarding a person’s immigration status or religion, and they are not allowed to enforce or assist in the enforcement of any religion-based registry.

Executive Order 17-01 is a response to various anti-immigration policies from President Donald J. Trump’s administration. The order is meant to reaffirm the state’s commitment to tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness, Inslee said.

“In Washington state, we know this: We do not discriminate based on someone’s race, religion, ethnicity or national origin. That remains true even as federal policies create such uncertain times,” Inslee said at a news conference following his signing of the order.

“But there should be nothing uncertain about where we stand as elected leaders in the state of Washington.”

Agencies also are prohibited from using state money or property to apprehend people who have violated federal civil immigration laws. However, Inslee made it clear that if there is a federal criminal arrest warrant on an individual, the state will honor it.

The order also states that the State Patrol, the Department of Corrections or any state agency with arrest powers shall not arrest a person simply for violating a federal immigration law.

“Simply being undocumented is not a crime,” Nick Brown, the general counsel for Inslee, said at the news conference.

Washington state has recently gained national attention for battling the Trump administration’s tough policies on immigration.

In January, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Trump’s order prohibiting entry to the U.S. of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa. A Seattle U.S. District Court judge ruled against the order, halting its implementation.

On Feb. 9, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against the Trump administration, continuing to block the enforcement of the travel ban.

Trump issued a revised order on Monday and Ferguson has said he is reviewing it.

In the state Legislature, House Democrats have introduced bills to protect state residents from Trump’s executive orders.

HB 2097, sponsored by Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, seeks to prohibit state or local government agencies from providing, collecting and disclosing information pertaining to a person’s religion.

The bill has passed the House and has been referred to the Law and Justice committee in the Senate.

HB 1988, sponsored by Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, would create a new process for immigrant youths ages 18 to 21 to petition a court for a guardian if they have been abandoned or abused by one or both parents.

A substitute bill has passed the House and been referred to the Human Services, Mental Health and Housing committee in the Senate.

Ortiz-Self also sponsored HB 2029, which would create a toll-free telephone hotline and website for individuals seeking information or assistance on immigration law and citizenship. It is on the calendar for a House floor vote.

Readers wishing to contact legislators about these or any other bills can go to www.leg.wa.gov or call 800-562-6000. To watch a video of Inslee’s news conference, visit www.tvw.org.

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This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. Reach reporter Enrique Pérez de la Rosa at [email protected]

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