Victory! Governor Inslee Signs Strongest 'Sanctuary' Policy in the Nation – Keep Washington Working Act

Keep Washington Working Signing Day – May 21, 2019

Governor Inslee signed into law the strongest statewide sanctuary policy in the nation on May 21, 2019.

OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz stated, “while the Trump Administration continually attacks immigrant families and some states aid and abet this discrimination, Washington is on the right side of history – passing the strongest statewide sanctuary policy in the nation. The Keep Washington Working Act protects immigrant workers, keeps families together, and strengthens local economies across the state.”

Keep Washington Working:

  • prohibits local law enforcement from routinely questioning individuals about immigration status,notifying ICE that a non-citizen is in custody, and detaining someone for civil immigration enforcement
  • restricts state agencies from aiding immigration enforcement
  • protects crime victims and lets local police focus on the community’s own public safety priorities and protects people from unwarranted immigration checks and immigration arrests by local safety officers.
  • requires the Attorney General to create policies that protect public and private facilities from ICE, including schools, hospitals, courthouses, and shelters

Nearly one million Washingtonians – one in every seven people in this state – are immigrants, and they are an integral part of Washington’s communities and workforce. By protecting workers in Washington, the Keep Washington Working Act strengthens local economies across the state.

If over 1 million immigrants are in Washington and they are scared to do business or move around freely, that is bad for our economy, bad for our image, and bad for us as humans. As a business owner who is also an immigrant, we should be able to do business here safely and freely and contribute to our communities,” stated Tawfik Maudah, OneAmerica Leader and Tukwila business owner.

Jurisdictions that do not use local resources to enforce federal immigration laws have positive outcomes, according to a recent study analyzing the federal government’s own data. Specifically, local jurisdictions that say “no” to ICE enforcement have lower rates of crime, poverty, and unemployment than those that choose to collaborate, and thus, blur the line between local law enforcement and federal agencies. 

When speaking of her own experience OneAmerica Leader Elizabeth stated, “I lived in fear of going to work. Thinking of what would happen if one day I didn’t come back. What happens to my children? And then that day came. If Keep Washington Working was in place at that time, I wouldn’t have had to live with that fear. Keep Washington Working allows us to come home to our families and tells our communities that they are protected.”

When local law enforcement does the work of federal immigration authorities, it subjects people of color to discriminatory racial profiling and harassment; diverts local resources and taxpayer dollars away from local public safety issues; harms Washington’s economy, and discourages people from contacting first responders. The Keep Washington Working Act gives Washington’s law enforcement agencies the guidance and support they need to remain focused on their essential work of keeping all Washington residents safe.

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