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Mayor Durkan and Councilmember González Stand with Asylum Seekers, Condemn Trump Administration’s New Rules That Punish Families Seeking Refuge

Seattle (November 15, 2018) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Councilmember M. Lorena González strongly condemned the Trump administration’s new rules that attempt to end longstanding humanitarian laws welcoming immigrant and refugee families and individuals fleeing violence and persecution at the United States-Mexico border.

The new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) laws essentially suspend established protections for those who qualify for asylum arriving at our southern border. These new laws do not impact asylum seekers that are already in the United States and pursuing an asylum claim.

“This President claims to be acting in the interest of national security, but he is abandoning America’s standing in the world and stoking fear. This is irresponsible rhetoric meant to tap into fear and hate,” said Mayor Durkan. “Seattle has welcomed asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees for decades. We strive to be a city that values and advances equity and justice, and extends a hand to those in need, rather than turning them away. I am proud to stand with these incredible women in opposition to the administration’s unconscionable rule changes.”

“President Trump’s proposed change to the terms for refugees seeking safety and asylum from violence by restricting where one can seek asylum is repugnant,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “Rather than continuing to pursue divisive policies designed to foment fear of refugees, the President should turn his efforts towards passage of meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform that members of the immigrant civil rights movement have been demanding for years. The City of Seattle is home to thousands of asylum seekers and their families, and we will continue to stand with those families and with the global community in recognizing the human rights of Central Americans seeking refuge from violence.”

In February, Mayor Durkan and Councilmember González announced a mayoral directive that requires all requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be directed to the Mayor’s Office Legal Counsel. Additionally, an effort was launched by the City to review policies and practices to confirm Seattle’s compliance with established City ordinances and protect our communities. As a Welcoming City, Seattle is firmly committed to ensuring the health and safety of our immigrant and refugee neighbors.

“With this poem I stress the notion that in order to work for a more inclusive, just, and peaceful world we must first imagine it. ‘Mythic’ begins with the whimsy of a child’s imagination and moves through the things, war, hunger, that limit human potential,” said Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State Poet Laureate. “If we can’t verbalize the world we wish for, we cannot strive for it.”


A country with borders of bread
A country where laws taste like milk
A country where I walk without fear
A country where walls don’t bring tears
A country where hope is not fiction
A country where huger is thin
A country where children don’t rot in jails
A country whose flag waves its goodwill
A country whose heart is its coin
A country where war is never on point
A country where the day begins with song
That is where I want to belong

“The International Rescue Committee Seattle is strongly opposed to the administration’s latest decision to deny safe haven to families seeking asylum,” said Nicky Smith, Executive Director of IRC Seattle. “This cruel decision amounts to a blanket ban on vulnerable families fleeing horrific violence and persecution in search of safety in the United States, clearly violating domestic and international law. The administration should instead be focused on addressing these root causes in the Northern Triangle, where humanitarian organizations like the IRC are on the ground working to alleviate suffering.”

The new DHS rule does not apply to asylum seekers who are already in the United States and in the process of pursuing an asylum claim. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) offers several resources to support our immigrant and refugee neighbors. For more information on OIRA’s programs, please click here.

“In 1975, my family fled Vietnam seeking the safety of the U.S. Many governors then, as Trump is now, attempted to block our arrival into their states, demanding that we, families and children, instead be forced to return to violence, persecution, and even certain death,” said OIRA director Cuc Vu. “Thankfully, then-governor of Washington Dan Evans stepped up, even reminding his peers that all people should be treated with respect and dignity and welcomed us to this state. My family and I are alive and thriving because fair-minded elected officials recognized our humanity. That’s why I’m proud to join Mayor Durkan and Councilmember González in opposing the Trump administration’s continuing attacks against basic decency and our asylum laws.”

The City of Seattle has signed on to the Refuge for Families Campaign, which is leading a humanitarian response to raise awareness and provide aid to migrant caravan participants at the U.S.-Mexico border.