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County Council Approves Guidelines for Immigrant and Refugee Assistance


“Rather than simply saying we’re a safe county for immigrants and refugees, we’re ready to prove it”


The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous support to the strategies developed by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on approaches to assist immigrant and refugee populations in King County.

“Rather than simply saying we’re a safe county for immigrants and refugees, we’re ready to prove it,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott, prime sponsor of the motion. “Attorney General Ferguson’s guidance was robust and timely, and it is on us to let everyone in the county know how we stack up. Immigrant and refugees in our communities need to know they are safe when working with King County, and if the report finds any laws, policies or practices that aren’t in line with these values – we’ll be ready to take action.”

In the wake of actions from the Trump administration regarding immigration status enforcement policy at the federal level, Councilmembers have expressed a broader interest in understanding the intersection between county services and federal immigration policy.

In response to such concerns and interests by local governments in Washington, the State Attorney General’s Office last month published a document providing guidance to local governments. The guidance offers “guardrails” to local governments in Washington who want to provide service and support to immigrants and refugees while allowing the county’s continued assistance to immigrant and refugee populations in ways that still meet federal legal requirements.

The guidance discusses general rules governing interactions between local jurisdictions and federal immigration authorities, and further addresses policies and practices of specific local services, such as law enforcement, jails, courts, education, employers and public hospitals.
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