Seattle City Council member Lorena González says the city should create a fund to benefit undocumented immigrants targeted by the Trump administration.
Seattle City Council member Lorena González says the city should create a fund to benefit undocumented immigrants targeted by the Trump administration. City of Seattle

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In the months since Donald Trump's election, major cities across the country have pledged to defend undocumented immigrants against the Trump administration. Some have backed up those promises with cash by creating legal funds to support immigrants facing deportation. Seattle, while promising to remain a safe city for immigrants and refugees, has been slow to do the same—until today.

As part of a "Welcoming City" resolution reaffirming the city's policies regarding undocumented immigrants, the Seattle City Council is expected to direct city departments to come up with a plan for creating an immigrant legal defense fund. The council is hearing testimony on the resolution now and will likely approve it unanimously today. UPDATE: The council passed the resolution unanimously.

Council Member Lorena González, who sponsored the resolution, says she hopes the fund will be established by June. It's not yet clear how much money will go into the fund or where that money will come from. Since Trump's election, Los Angeles has established a $10 million fund, Chicago has created a $1 million fund, and Washington, D.C. set aside $500,000.

"When I look at cities like New York and L.A., they have really significantly large undocumented immigrant populations," she says. "We don’t have that level of population of undocumented immigrants." (For obvious reasons, it's difficult to know exactly how many undocumented people live in Seattle, but according to the Pew Research Center, about 250,000 lived in Washington State in 2014.)

Representatives from various city departments, including the City Budget Office, Office for Civil Rights, and Office of the Mayor, will come up with specifics for how to create the fund.

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"I believe there will be harsh enforcement of immigration laws within the City of Seattle," González says, "and we need to be prepared to provide those families with legal aid in response to that."

Along with creating the legal defense fund, the resolution reaffirms what city leaders have been saying in recent weeks: that city departments and services will not require people to disclose their immigration status and will not cooperate with any "unconstitutional or illegal laws, rules, or policies targeted at those of the Muslim faith and/or of Middle Eastern descent." It also directs the Seattle Police Department to review its mutual aid agreements (in which SPD agrees to help out other regional departments), and identify any departments that cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Read the full resolution here.

The King County Council also voted 6-3 today to condemn Trump’s executive orders on immigration, calling them, "discriminatory, unconstitutional and contrary to the county's adopted principles and ordinances, as well as the Constitution and laws we as a council have sworn to support." County council members Pete von Reichbauer, Reagan Dunn, and Kathy Lambert voted no.