Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced during his 2017 State of the City address that, under the direction of City Attorney Pete Holmes, the City of Seattle will file a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with multiple federal agencies regarding President Trump’s immigration Executive Order targeting immigrants and refugees. The requests are being sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“President Trump’s Executive Order has created widespread confusion and fear in immigrant communities across the country,” said Mayor Murray. “Seattle has been here before with the internment of Japanese Americans 75 years ago—we will not go back to those dark days. We will seek to determine the Administration’s definition of ‘sanctuary cities’ and the enforcement actions the federal government may take against us. We will also seek detailed information about the Administration’s changes to travel and immigration policy including the DACA program. It is the government’s duty to provide clear and accurate information to all residents and we are prepared to take action to get those answers.”
The FOIA requests seek details related to President Trump’s Executive Order 13768 announcing that “sanctuary jurisdictions” will not receive federal funds and which gave immigration authorities greater discretion in immigration policy, detainment, and deportation.
The Executive Order has been characterized as vague, with limited public information available. The FOIA requests call for the federal agencies to provide Seattle all records and plans pertaining to the intent and enforcement of the order in a timely manner. Federal law requires that the agencies respond within 20 days.
During his State of the City speech at Idris Mosque, Mayor Murray said:
“In today’s atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, let me reaffirm my commitment that we will remain a welcoming city for all. Under my direction, along with City Attorney Pete Holmes, in response to the Administration’s actions and rhetoric regarding immigrants and refugees, today Seattle will send a series of Freedom of Information Requests to multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. We believe that the rule of law is on our side, and we will take legal action if the federal government does not answer our requests in a timely manner.”
Additionally, last week Mayor Murray directed the City of Seattle to join an amicus brief in Darweesh v. Trump, seeking an injunction against Trump’s Executive Order banning foreigners from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States. Seattle joined several cities from across the country on this brief, noting the ban’s impact on safety, the economy and security. The case stems from the detainment and threatened deportation of Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi national with a valid travel visa, after he arrived in the United States.