State Watch

Inslee signs bill making Washington a sanctuary state

Greg Nash

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a measure into law on Wednesday declaring Washington a “sanctuary state,” according to The Associated Press.

Under the legislation, state and local authorities will not be able to question people about their immigration status except in limited cases.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) is set to develop specific rules for state government facilities such as courthouses and hospitals to prevent federal immigration agents from searching them for undocumented immigrants, according to the AP.

{mosads}Local law enforcement will be authorized to question people about immigration status or birthplace only if the issue is directly tied to a criminal investigation, and local jails and state prisons may not comply with voluntary federal “immigration holds” or notify federal authorities when they are set to release an immigrant from custody, the AP reported.

“Our state agencies are not immigration enforcement agencies,” said Inslee, who running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. “We will not be complicit in the Trump administration’s depraved efforts to break up hard-working immigrant and refugee families.”

Inslee signed an executive order with similar provisions in 2017, but advocates criticized the earlier measure because they said it didn’t go far enough.

Most police interactions involve city and county law enforcement, and local departments often receive assistance requests from federal authorities, according to Lena Graber, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a national nonprofit that tracks sanctuary policies.

The new bill, Graber told the AP, will give the state “the strongest and most comprehensive state law on sanctuary in the country.”

Five other states have implemented similar policies against local-federal law enforcement coordination for noncriminal immigration investigations: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Oregon adopted a statewide policy in 1987 forbidding police to expend any resources on targeting people who have not committed any offenses beyond entering the country illegally, according to the AP.

In 2017, California passed protections requiring authorities to obtain written consent to be interviewed by immigration officers from anyone they arrest. 

Tags Ed Case Jay Inslee

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