Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed an executive order that seeks to ensure state resources are not used to enforce federal immigration policies.
Inslee said his order reaffirms the state’s commitment to tolerance and clarifies that state workers’ roles are to provide services for residents, not to ascertain their immigration status.
“This executive order makes clear that Washington will not be a willing participant in promoting or carrying out mean-spirited policies,” Inslee said.
The order says the State Patrol and other agencies cannot detain people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws.
President Donald Trump has said he wants to expand the number of deportations of people in the country illegally. The administration announced Tuesday that any immigrant in the country illegally who is charged with or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority.
The three-page order signed Thursday by Inslee notes immigrants’ economic impact on the state, stating that undocumented immigrants made up nearly 5 percent of the state’s workforce in 2012, paying more than $301 million in state and local taxes.
“If all undocumented immigrants were removed from the state, the state would lose $14.5 billion in economic activity, $6.4 billion in gross revenue and approximately 71,197 jobs,” the order reads.
The order says that the Washington State Patrol and state agencies with arrest powers cannot detain people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws.
We will remain a state that doesn’t utilize state employees as agents of the federal immigration services.
Gov. Jay Inslee
Inslee said that the order does not interfere with federal law, saying that if there is a federal criminal arrest warrant, “we will honor it.”
But he said that the state will not collect data on state residents “beyond what is legally required or necessary to carry out specific agency duties.”
“We will remain a state that doesn’t utilize state employees as agents of the federal immigration services,” he said.
Nick Brown, Inslee’s general counsel, said that the order gives guidance to state agencies following a month of confusion over what their role is when it comes to immigration issues.
“It doesn’t dramatically change existing state law or existing state policies, but it does bring some needed clarity around those issues,” Brown said.
The Washington executive order is similar to an executive order signed earlier this month by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that expanded that state’s edict from law enforcement to all state agencies. Like Oregon, the Washington order pre-emptively forbids state cooperation on any potential future effort to create a registry to identify people based on religion.
Inslee has been a vocal opponent of Trump and supported the lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson that has led to a temporary halt of the president’s travel ban aimed at immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations.