Over the last few days, the City of Seattle has heard from dozens of residents who worry that their immigration status or national origin may impact their access to City services or legal protections. In the aftermath of President Trump’s Executive Order to prevent entry into the United States of citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Seattle City Council has reaffirmed Seattle’s status as a welcoming city that celebrates our immigrant and refugee families.
The City of Seattle has a long-standing policy to serve all our residents, regardless of where they were born or whether they are a citizen of the United States. City employees will never ask residents to disclose their immigration status unless police officers have a reasonable suspicion that a felony is being or has been committed. Everyone in Seattle should feel comfortable accessing vital City services, including law enforcement and emergency response services. The staff here at OPCD are committed to serving all Seattle families, and we will fight for your equality under the law.
As Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, “The City of Seattle will continue to protect the rights guaranteed to the City and its people by the United States Constitution and will challenge any unconstitutional policies that threaten the security of our communities. We are a nation of laws and we are committed to defending our residents, our values, and the Constitution in the court of law.”
On a personal note, as an immigrant who fled political violence in Ethiopia, I add my voice to all those across our city who will resist unconstitutional efforts to prevent equal protection under the law. Religious tests must never be applied to any of the protections and services offered at any level of government, whether it is the City of Seattle or the United States of America. We must remember the tragic internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and vow that we will never again single out a racial, ethnic, or religious community – or any protected class – for discriminatory treatment. As an office specifically charged with leading and implementing the Mayor’s key initiatives aimed at making Seattle a livable and equitable city for all, the Office of Planning and Community Development takes this issue very seriously. I believe that the work we will accomplish together is even more important and critical now.
Thank you for your partnership as we seek to build a more equitable Seattle.
Samuel Assefa, Director
Office of Planning and Community Development