Seattle Mayor Seeking $250K to Protect Illegal Immigrants from Deportation

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Friday announced aspects of his $250,000 plan to help children from immigrant and refugee families navigate what could be a different environment after President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

Murray promised in November, in the wake of Trump’s election, to set the money aside for students from families with undocumented immigrants.

“The rhetoric and the promises of the incoming administration are a threat to Seattle’s economy and to Seattle’s workers,” Murray said Friday.

The mayor outlined several efforts on which the $250,000 will be spent, including certain services for immigrants of all ages.

Some details are still being worked out, and the Seattle Foundation is asking for private donations to supplement the taxpayer money.

The foundation hopes to raise at least $250,000 and is getting the push started with $25,000 of its own money, spokeswoman Mary Grace Roske said.

Part of the city’s funding will be used to hold multiple community-education forums at Seattle Public Schools buildings and other venues, Murray said.

Organizations with legal expertise will offer information to immigrant students and their relatives, he said.

The forums will cover topics such as the importance of power-of-attorney documents and who to call for help when someone is in danger of being detained by immigration authorities, the mayor said.

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Furthermore, the city will provide immigrant-rights training and technical assistance to Seattle Public Schools teachers, counselors and administrators, he said.

And attorneys from the Northwest Immigrants Rights project will respond to calls from students and parents in danger of being detained.

Together, those efforts will be called the Family Unity Project and will eat up about half of the city’s $250,000, said Benton Strong, spokesman for the mayor.

Strong said city officials are working closely with Seattle Public Schools officials.

The city will spend some of its remaining funding on counseling and peer-support groups for middle and high school students from immigrant families, Murray said.

He specifically mentioned Muslim students and students authorized to live and work in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Some of the remaining funding will also be used to make sure people of all ages can easily report incidents of hate speech and violence, the mayor said.

The city’s Office of Civil Rights will be responsible for taking the reports via phone, email and a web form that’s not available yet, Strong said.

The form will allow people to quickly document incidents such as hate-related vandalism by uploading photos as part of their complaints.

Additionally, the money will help the city host an immigrant rights and education event on Jan. 20, the day Trump is inaugurated president, Murray said.

The event at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall will include citizenship-application aid and other legal assistance for immigrants and training for community members on how to help immigrant neighbors.

The mayor later urged Seattle groups of all kinds, including neighborhood and religious groups, to spend time on Jan. 20 trying to make the city’s civic life better.

In hailing the plan, City Councilmember M. Lorena González mentioned that her own parents came from Mexico.

“Seattle is and always will be a welcoming city to our immigrant and refugee neighbors,” she said. “Undocumented youth are some of our most vulnerable neighbors and friends.”