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This is the second post in a series on immigrants in Washington state.
During this year’s legislative session, the Washington state Legislature will join the debate over immigration enforcement by deciding whether to enact the Family Unity Act (HB 1716).
This act would respond to the issue of local police detaining non-citizens for immigration officials after they are due to be released. Between 2012 and 2014, Washington state assisted in the issuance of 10,853 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. The majority of these detainers were imposed on individuals who were either never convicted of a crime or who had merely committed minor offenses such as traffic violations.
This collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and immigration agents from ICE can compromise community safety, use up scarce resources, and interfere with the rights of immigrants in their custody. The Family Unity Act would prohibit local sheriffs and police from using their resources to enforce federal policies.
The Family Unity Act would help our communities and economy by:
Immigrants are an integral part of Washington state, adding to its cultural richness and economic vibrancy. By passing the Family Unity Act, legislators will ensure that local law enforcement agencies are dedicated to their primary duties of serving and protecting the public instead of facilitating immigration enforcement. Ultimately, this will make Washington state safer and bring greater security and stability to the immigrant members of our communities.
For more information on the economic contributions of immigrants in our state, read the first post in this series.
The Budget & Policy Center staff would like to thank Toby Guevin, Associate Director of Civic Engagement with OneAmerica, and Ann Benson, Directing Attorney with the Washington Defender Association (WDA) Immigration Project, for their contributions to this post.