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Declaring ‘Seattle will not be bullied,’ city sues Trump over sanctuary executive order

SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said his office filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration, claiming its recent executive order targeting sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.

The Trump order threatened to strip federal funding from cities that refused to assist the federal government in immigration enforcement.

At risk could be millions of federal dollars flowing into the Seattle city government.

“Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration and today we are taking legal action against President Trump’s unconstitutional order,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “We have the law on our side: The federal government cannot compel our police department to enforce federal immigration law and cannot use our federal dollars to coerce Seattle into turning our backs on our immigrant and refugee communities. We simply won’t do it.”

Many millions of dollars are at stake. In a news release, the city said it anticipates at least $55 million in federal funds to support operating expenses in 2017, more than $99 million in capital project support in 2017 alone, and approximately $2.6 million from Department of Justice grants in 2017.

Murray called the president’s tactics a form of bullying and he believes the executive order is illegal.

“Apparently the Trump administration and their war on facts has now become a war on cities,” said Murray.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration called for an end to sanctuary cities, saying the Justice Department could deny grant money to cities like Seattle, which do not share information between local police and federal law enforcement about undocumented immigrants.

On Wednesday, Murray filed suit in U.S. District Court, claiming in part the executive order cannot force the city’s police department to enforce federal immigration laws.

Flanked by supporters, the mayor and City Attorney Pete Holmes said their offices are hearing from a very worried immigrant population.

“Basically we’re dealing with communities that are really afraid and we’re dealing with a situation where it’s very hard to plan budgets when you have inconsistent statements that are threatening our own budgets and our own cities, so the time to act is now,” said Murray.

Another concern said Murray is that crime is actually dropping in Seattle’s immigrant communities, contradicting U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ claim that sanctuary cities are to blame for an increase in crime.

Now city officials worry undocumented immigrants might be hesitant to call police when they are in trouble for fear of being deported.

“Local governments do not enforce federal law,” said Holmes. “We are prohibited from doing so, and moreover, even if we did, given this administration that would like to commandeer our resources and enforce federal law, we would face civil liability, ironically, under federal law.”

Murray added that he hopes a federal judge will declare the Trump’s executive order unconstitutional outright.

The city is also getting legal help from other cities and counties across the country who have also filed suit against the administration.