We must support our ‘sanctuary state’

Immigration is a critical part of U.S. history, migrants provide more benefits than drawbacks, deserve asylum



Citizens sympathetic to migrant rights should read Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s letter about the mission of the state and how they can support legislators and laws that would protect immigrants.

KADE RUSSOM, Evergreen columnist

In a harbor far to the east, past a countrywide divide, there is a statue. It stands for many things, but an inscription at its base tells the purpose best: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

This is an often-quoted inscription on the Statue of Liberty, and it is a phrase we in Washington should not forget.

At 132 years old since its dedication, the Mother of Exiles was finished three years before Washington had even become a state. She has kept watch over New York Harbor and Ellis Island for over a century, welcoming all who would enter her home and call it their own. But even as she grows older, the ideas she represents remain timeless.

Our nation’s fidelity to those ideas hasn’t, unfortunately, aged as well in recent years.

President Donald Trump has always pushed for greater immigration control, factoring it into the rhetoric of his campaigns in many ways. His most prominent declaration was to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. Under his administration, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act was attempted to be dismantled, refugees were refused and deportations were undergone with greater federal support.

“No administration in modern U.S. history has placed such a high priority on immigration policy or had an almost exclusive focus on restricting immigration flows, legal and unauthorized alike,” according to a report by the Migration Policy Institute.

The Trump administration’s stance on this issue represents a shift toward policies detrimental not only to the founding ideals of the U.S. but on an economic and governmental scale as well.

To any disbelievers in the effect of this issue, consider that as of 2017, 13.7 percent of the total U.S. population consists of immigrants, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. They contribute a net benefit of over $35 billion to the companies they work for and communities they live in.

It is more costly to deport these people than to let them be.

Undocumented immigrants even cost the nation less than legal ones since they are incapable of entering government support programs, according to an article by The Balance.

The Trump administration’s stance has proven to be divisive politically, particularly on the enforcement of immigration policy. New York, California, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia all had to outline their positions on the requirements of their law enforcement to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

These states served as sanctuaries for immigrants — their noncompliance with ICE on a state level allows them to do so.

In response, Trump issued an executive order which allowed his administration to withhold federal grants as well as other resources in order to coerce these states into compliance. This order was contested by these states in court on multiple instances and their resistance of ICE persists.

Though it seems small, a divide between federal and state powers is easily seen here. It will take time, but at its current rate this divide could amount to a truly fracturing force given enough time.

Immigration is not only a tradition of American society but a foundational idea and a beneficial force. In Washington, our government surely agrees with that, having released a guide in order to support this belief.

“Effective implementation of the principles set forth in this guidance can help foster a relationship of trust between local agencies and immigrants that will protect the rights of all Washingtonians,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a letter included with a guide to immigration enforcement.

This guide explains what Washington agencies, including law enforcement and schools, can do under current policies while staying within the law. I advise all read and apply it to their work as well as they are able, spreading welcoming and acceptance to all people. Ferguson will speak about the multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration he has been apart of during a Foley Talk at 3 p.m. Thursday in Bryan Hall 308.

The systems we put in place to attain ideals are inevitably flawed, but we must pursue liberty in the U.S. for one and all who would call it home.

Failing to achieve an ideal is better than abandoning it completely. In Washington, we must continue to resist this policy of our current federal administration, lest it ruin what generations of immigrants have built.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information about the Foley Talk Attorney General Bob Ferguson will speak at Thursday in Bryan Hall.