Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said the department’s policy on enforcement of federal immigration laws remains in place, despite a Trump presidency.
Despite threats of reduced federal funding, a Seattle Police Department policy barring officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status will not change, Chief Kathleen O’Toole said Tuesday.
“As affirmed by Mayor Murray, the city of Seattle remains committed to values of equality, inclusion and openness,” O’Toole said. “So does the Seattle Police Department.”
O’Toole’s announcement follows earlier statements from Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine signaling that they would defy President-elect Donald Trump on immigration policy, even if it results in cuts in federal funding.
On Monday, Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck also said his department would not change its longstanding policy of staying out of immigration issues.
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Since his election, Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” that employ a range of policies to protect undocumented immigrants. In recent interviews, Trump pledged to block federal taxpayer dollars from going to any city that does not comply.
The Seattle policy stems from a 2003 ordinance barring officers from asking about a person’s immigration status without reasonable suspicion that the person has been previously deported or has committed a felony, unless required to by law or a court order.
O’Toole, in a separate statement, said: “I have a lengthy track record on this issue. It’s important that the most vulnerable know they can trust their local police. Most major city chiefs are totally aligned on this issue.
“Certainly, we’ll go after people involved in guns, gangs, drugs and exploitation, whether documented or undocumented. But we’re not going to turn our backs on the most vulnerable who need our services and support.”