Washington State Makes the Whole West Coast a Sanctuary
By Shari Rendall | May 30, 2019
At the stroke of a pen on May 21, Governor Jay Inslee (D) added Washington State to the growing ranks of sanctuary states. Now that Washington has joined Oregon and California, the entire West Coast of the United States, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, has dangerous sanctuary policies to protect criminal aliens at the expense of American citizens’ and legal immigrants’ safety.
Sanctuary supporters have boasted that Senate Bill (SB) 5497, the Evergreen State’s sanctuary bill that Inslee signed into law, is “the strongest and most comprehensive state law on sanctuary in the country.” Effective immediately, the bill:
- Prohibits state and local law enforcement from honoring immigration detainers;
- Prohibits state and local law enforcement from providing “nonpublic available personal information about an individual” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal immigration authorities;
- Prohibits state and local law enforcement from responding to official requests for notification from ICE (which typically ask for an inmate’s custody status, time and date of release, etc.);
- Prohibits state and local law enforcement from granting access to people in their custody to immigration authorities for interviews;
- Prohibits state and local law enforcement from asking about anyone’s immigration status or birthplace “unless there is a connection between such information and an investigation into a violation of state or local criminal law”;
- Prohibits entering into agreements with the federal government to assist or cooperate in enforcing immigration law, specifically including but not limited to the 287(g) program;
- Requires warnings from state and local law enforcement that people in their custody do not have to answer questions about their immigration status or birthplace and that any statements could be used against them;
- Prohibits any public benefit or service from being restricted based on immigration status; and
- Directs the state’s attorney general (AG) to develop and model policies within a year for attempting to keep federal immigration authorities out of schools, hospitals, shelters and courthouses “to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law,” which those entities must then either adopt, or notify the AG they are not adopting and submit other written policies in place of them.
Unlike California’s main sanctuary law, SB 54, Washington’s new law also provides no exceptions for people arrested or previously convicted for even the most serious and violent crimes.
When he signed the bill, Gov. Inslee unsurprisingly praised himself and the Democrats in the state legislature who had passed it, saying Washington State would “not be complicit in the Trump administration’s depraved efforts to break up hard-working immigrant and refugee families.”
But in response, State Senator Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) shot back that the bill “not only puts law enforcement at risk, it puts private citizens at risk[.]”
In a May 23 statement, ICE called it “unfortunate that current local and state laws and policies tie the hands of local law enforcement agencies that want and need to work with ICE to promote public safety by holding criminals accountable and providing justice and closure for their victims[.]”
Invoking the memory of Kittitas County, Washington Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson, allegedly killed by an illegal alien in March, local radio host Dori Monson went further, describing the sanctuary bill as “pure insanity” and condemning Inslee for “spitting on the graves of every person who has been killed by illegal immigrants … [and] spitting on the women who have been raped by illegal immigrants.”