Urban Politics #178: City Council Says No To The Homeland Security Act


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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City Council Says No To The Homeland Security Act

On a day that President Bush called for renewal of the Patriot Act, I introduced and got the Council to unanimously pass a resolution opposing new federal legislation that would force local police to enforce immigration laws or lose Federal funding.

The Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, and its Senate counterpart, the Homeland Security and Enhancement Act (HSEA), call upon the nation’s local police and sheriffs to enforce technical civil immigration statutes. Both proposals also threaten the loss of federal funds to local jurisdictions that refuse to comply or that or do not repeal any statutes, policies, or practices to the contrary, within two years of the law’s enactment.

Seattle has two directives that clarify the role of Seattle Police regarding immigration law enforcement. Both City Council Ordinance 121063, passed in January 2003 and SPD Directive D02-40, issued in June 2002, instruct police officers to refrain from enforcing civil federal immigration violations such as lack of immigration status. The Council last year also passed a resolution opposing provisions of the Patriot Act that infringe upon civil rights and liberties, or single out for scrutiny people based solely on their country of origin, religion, ethnicity or immigration status.

Unfortunately our federal government attempts to use local resources, such as police, to do their work. In Seattle we believe that all people that live in or visit our city should have equal access to city services without fear. Specifically, we don’t want fewer witnesses coming forward to report suspicious activity or crimes; this would endanger all citizens.

I based the resolution, in part, on a letter opposing the legislation written by Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. Under the City’s policies, Seattle police may continue to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service in enforcement of criminal immigration violations, but court rulings have stipulated that local police do not have authority to enforce civil immigration violations.

Today, President Bush campaigned in Pennsylvania, home state of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, for renewal of provisions of the Patriot Act, which will expire at the end of 2005 unless, renewed by Congress.

Text Of The Resolution —-

A Resolution Opposing Federal Legislation That Encourages Local Enforcement Of Civil Immigration Laws

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle, to protect immigrants’ access to police protection and public services, passed ordinance 121063 on January 27, 2003; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle Police Department issued Directive D02-40 on June 6, 2002, instructing police officers to refrain from enforcing civil federal immigration violations such as lack of immigration status; and

WHEREAS, over 56 other similar ordinances, police directives, resolutions, and polices designed to protect immigrants’ access to police protection and public services have been passed in 21 states; and

WHEREAS, all City officials, including the Seattle Police Department, work diligently to gain the trust of immigrant residents so that all communities feel that it is safe to contact and work with police and to access other vital city services; and

WHEREAS, H.R. 2671, the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, and S. 1906, the Homeland Security and Enhancement Act (HSEA), while purporting to enhance homeland security by requiring the country’s over 600,000 state and local police to operate as immigrant agents, would burden police with enforcement of technical civil immigration statutes, diverting them from priority tasks of public safety; and

WHEREAS the CLEAR Act and HSEA would negate our City’s initiatives to protect immigrants’ access to police protection and public services, by requiring, as a condition of receiving reimbursement for incarcerating non-U.S. citizens and obtaining funds for immigration enforcement, state and local jurisdictions to institute policies authorizing police to enforce immigration laws, or repeal any statutes, policies, or practices to the contrary, within two years of the law’s enactment; and

WHEREAS, by requiring police officers to perform the functions of immigration agents, the CLEAR Act and HSEA would discourage immigrants from coming forward to report crimes and suspicious activity, making Seattle’s street less safe; and

WHEREAS the policy of the Seattle Police Department is that officers shall not consider ancestry, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender variance, marital status, physical or mental disability, or religion as a sole basis for establishing reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a basis for requesting consent to search; and

WHEREAS, legislation such as the CLEAR Act and HSEA would represent an unfunded and unsafe mandate imposed on local city police.

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved By The City Council Of The City Of Seattle That:

Section 1. The City of Seattle reaffirms its commitment to civil rights and equal access to all city services, including police protection, regardless of immigration status.

Section 2. The City of Seattle reaffirms ordinance 121063 and the policies of the Seattle Police Department which were instituted to protect immigrants’ access to police protection and public services.

Section 3. The City of Seattle firmly adheres to the principle that no law enforcement agency, or other city agency, may profile or discriminate against any person solely on the basis of ancestry, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender variance, marital status, physical or mental disabiliy or religion, nor shall City of Seattle assist other agencies in practices that violate these policies.

Section 4. The City of Seattle opposes enactment of HR 2671, the CLEAR Act, and S. 1906, the Homeland Security Enhancement Act because of the requirement that state and local police officers enforce civil federal immigration laws or lose Federal funding.

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Comment from Beverly Sims
Time September 12, 2012 at 7:20 am

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