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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes Commend Federal Court Ruling That Trump Administration Cannot Withhold Federal Funds from Cities and Counties that Welcome Refugees and Immigrants

Seattle (August 1) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes today commended a 2-1 decision by the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a district judge’s ruling that the federal government cannot withhold federal funding from cities and counties in retaliation for policies that support immigrant and refugee communities. In its decision, the Court ruled that this administration’s policy is unconstitutional.

“We have the law – and justice – on our side. This ruling is a victory for welcoming cities everywhere and confirms that the administration’s actions violate our Constitution,” said Mayor Durkan. “As we mark this victory for our City, we have no illusions: the administration’s threats to welcoming cities like ours will continue, and these threats will do nothing to make our communities safer. We will not allow our City and our state to be bullied by the President and Attorney General Sessions, who continue to threaten our shared values of inclusion, opportunity, and diversity. We will keep working together to ensure that immigrants and refugees are made to feel welcome here in our community, and can continue to believe in and have access to the promise of America. That includes ensuring that we have the resources in place to protect immigrants and refugees who are unjustly being put at risk.”

“I’m pleased that the 9th Circuit recognized that the Trump Administration can’t bully jurisdictions into selling out their immigrant communities,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. “Seattle is proud to be a Welcoming City, and we won’t be threatened into abandoning our principles.  We are closely evaluating this ruling and considering its implications for our own lawsuit, City of Seattle v. Donald J. Trump.”


November 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to 29 U.S. cities, including Seattle, arguing that they may be violating federal law through their efforts to protect immigrants and refugees as a Welcoming City.

December 2017: Mayor Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes respond in a letter to Attorney General Sessions defending Seattle’s status as a Welcoming City.

January 2018: Mayor Durkan responds to threats from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to subpoena King County for its commitment to protecting refugees and immigrants.

February 2018: Mayor Durkan issues a mayoral directive to ensure the City is prepared for any and all requests by ICE authorities. All ICE requests are now directed to the Mayor’s Office Legal Counsel, including requests for access to non-public areas in City buildings and venues as well as for data or information about City employees, residents, or workers.

April 2018: The Department of Justice issues a new threat of a subpoena claiming Seattle is “enact[ing] policies that thwart the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration law” and intentional in their “effort to undermine public safety and the rule of law.” Mayor Durkan responds defending the City’s actions and showing Seattle respects the rule of law.