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State House passes bill to strengthen sanctuary status for illegal immigrants


On the same day President Trump threatened to start shipping immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities, lawmakers in Olympia took another step forward to solidify Washington’s sanctuary state status.

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The state House passed a bill that — among other things — prevents state and local agencies from sharing information with the federal government for civil immigration enforcement. That includes cases involving immigrants here illegally, but who have not committed any serious crimes.

“We want to make sure that they are protected, taken care of, and that they can thrive in our state, so that our economy can continue to thrive,” said Democratic Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self. “This is about making sure … that our resources are being spent to take care of our Washingtonians.”

Republicans were highly critical of a measure in the bill that prevents local police from sharing information with federal immigration authorities, something Republican Representative and Seattle police officer Morgan Irwin is a threat to public safety.

“Sharing information saves lives,” he said.

Irwin pointed to the recent killing of Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson by an illegal immigrant as an example of how dangerous not sharing information can be. That concern was echoed by others on the floor, including Republican Rep. Tom Dent.

“I was in Ellensburg. I attended the funeral of a friend, a family man, a community member, and a law enforcement officer — it was so devastating to me as I watched his one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter sit down in front of me,” said Rep. Dent. “We are a nation of laws, and we need to remember that.”

Democrats stressed those who commit crimes would still be prosecuted. More than that, they emphasized that this was about making sure immigrants in Washington’s schools and work force feel safe, and are willing to talk to police, even if they are here illegally.

In the end, it passed in the House along party lines, and now returns to the Senate. Next, the Senate will have to approve some of the minor tweaks made in the House.

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