Washington State Bans Private Immigration Detention, Hands Out “Stimulus”
FAIR Take | May 2021
Already a sanctuary state since passing one of the most extreme sanctuary laws in the country in 2019, Washington State has gone further to put the welcome mat out for illegal aliens. Just this past month, bills passed that undermined immigration enforcement and provided illegal aliens with more financial benefits.
Private Immigration Detention Ban
House Bill (HB) 1090, sponsored by Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo), bans for-profit detention centers in the state, however, the only facility that meets this definition is the immigration detention facility in Tacoma. The Northwest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center, which is operated by the contractor GEO Group (“GEO”), will now have to wind down its operations by 2025.
GEO sued the State of California when it passed similar legislation in 2019, arguing that federal preemption under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution prohibited the state from regulating such contracts, and has strongly hinted such litigation would be forthcoming against Washington if it followed California’s lead.
GEO’s trade group, the Day 1 Alliance, condemned the Washington State legislation, calling it “political theater” and saying “[t]he Northwest ICE Processing Center has operated in Tacoma for more than 20 years under Democratic and Republican Presidential Administrations, offering the same high-quality services to the federal government throughout … The facility operates today under the same strict performance standards that existed under President Obama’s administration. So, the question must be asked, why are Washington State politicians expressing faux outrage today?”
Advancing steadily through the legislative process, HB 1090 passed the House with every Democrat’s support and a number of open-border Republicans. On March 30 it passed the Senate along party-lines.
During the debate, Senator Chris Gildon (R-Puyallup) asked whether the state had authority to enact the bill, but the legislature pressed ahead regardless.
Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed the bill on April 14.
Stimulus Funds for Illegal Aliens
Not content to just ensure illegal aliens couldn’t be detained in Washington, the legislature also passed a bill in the state budget that included $340 million in taxpayer-funded cash handouts to illegal aliens claiming these monies were “stimulus” funds and back unemployment pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. This is despite the fact that federal law prohibits illegal aliens from working in the United States and makes it a crime to employ them. Federal law also prohibits them from collecting unemployment benefits.
Washington State previously authorized a one-time stimulus payment to illegal aliens last year toward the beginning of the pandemic. Then, however, like most states, it had been strapped for cash.
Now by contrast the state has been bailed out with the Biden Administration’s federal COVID-19 “relief” funds. This means that federal taxpayers across the country are actually paying to subsidize these state handouts to illegal aliens.
Unlike the private detention ban, the new money for illegal aliens practically sailed through the legislature without much attention or opposition even from Republicans, who, according to Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) claimed their “focus was elsewhere, including trying to support businesses.”
Between the new money and $127 million in earlier funds allocated over the past year, Washington’s illegal-alien stimulus/unemployment fund of $467 million now appears to be the second-biggest in the country. Only New York’s $2.1 billion dollar “Excluded Worker’s Fund” is bigger, providing handouts of close to $16,000 to some illegal aliens.
Open-borders activists in Washington State say their next step is to push for a whole parallel state unemployment compensation system for illegal aliens.