Mayor Ed Murray said he’s “very concerned” about the city getting federal funding from a Trump administration to address homelessness and other issues.
Seattle will remain what some call a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants despite Donald Trump’s election as president, even if that means losing federal funding, Mayor Ed Murray promised a large crowd gathered inside City Hall on Wednesday.
The city is one of many with a range of different policies to protect undocumented immigrants, and before the rally Murray called standing by that “the most American thing we could possibly do.”
Trump has vowed to crack down on cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities, pledging to block federal taxpayer dollars from going to them, though it’s not clear Seattle would necessarily be among them.
“These are our neighbors, and we will continue to support our neighbors,” Murray said, using the term “sanctuary city” that some supporters dislike. “We can’t allow ourselves to be divided and sorted out. That’s not America.”
Seattle’s so-called sanctuary status stems from a 2003 ordinance, according to Murray’s office. Unless otherwise required by law or court order, the ordinance bars police officers from inquiring into a person’s immigration status without reasonable suspicion that the person has been previously deported and has committed a felony. Backers of such policies argue they make cities safer because immigrants are less afraid to cooperate with police.
Speaking to the crowd’s anxieties about how a Trump administration may treat immigrants, refugees, Muslims, women, and gay Americans among others, the mayor said the Pacific Northwest’s largest city will continue to welcome all kinds of people.
“Seattle is the same city today that it was yesterday … guided by equality and inclusion and openness,” Murray said.
The mayor said Trump has “demonstrated outright misogyny, demonstrated xenophobia and homophobia, nationalism, racism and authoritarian tendencies.”
But Murray said Seattle residents should try to understand Trump voters and work with them rather than condemn them.
“They are people who are struggling, and our ability to reach out and build bridges with them is the way we go forward,” he said, attributing the country’s volatile politics to economic inequality and anger generated by the Great Recession.
Listeners at City Hall also heard from Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who won election Tuesday to take over retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s Seattle-area seat.
The immigrant-rights activist urged disappointed voters to channel their fears into a progressive movement.
Recalling his own long fight as a state lawmaker to legalize gay marriage in Washington, Murray said to discouraged young people, “You can’t lose hope.”
In a news conference before the City Hall rally, he said the rights of LGBTQ people would be defended.
“The president-elect has said he wants to turn back some of our gains,” said the mayor, who is gay and married himself. “We will not lose the things that we’ve gained, the rings on our fingers.”
Trump has lobbed harsh words at Mexico and immigrants from that country. But Councilmember M. Lorena González, who said her parents came to the U.S. from Mexico as undocumented immigrants, said Seattle should be safe for people like them.
Later this month, the city will sign new agreements with Mexico City on environmental, economic and cultural matters, Murray said. He spoke Wednesday with Mexico’s consul general in Seattle.
Not for the first time, he said Seattle voters may need to approve a new levy for homeless services.
“At some point, the federal government is going to have to step up. Obviously, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be soon. We as a city are going to have to ask ourselves, ‘What more do we do?’ ” Murray said.
The mayor said he’s worried about a Republican-controlled Congress gutting the Affordable Care Act. He said the law also known as Obamacare directly benefits many Seattle residents.
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole insisted Trump’s election will not deter nor delay police-department reforms mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice under a consent decree.