The immigration debate that started nationwide just weeks ago has reached the local levels in the cities of Carnation and Duvall. Residents of both cities spoke out at their city councils’ meetings, both held Tuesday, Feb. 7, to urge their elected officials to declare their cities, Welcoming Cities.
A Welcoming City (or county), according to the Welcoming America website (https://www.welcomingamerica.org) is one that joins the organization and plans, commits, builds community, and sustains “immigrant-friendly, welcoming communities.” King County, and the cities of Seattle and Tacoma are listed as welcoming organizations.
Neither Carnation nor Duvall took formal action on the citizens’ requests last week, however, for lack of information.
Carnation City Manager Phil Messina said he had heard from citizens regarding Carnation becoming either a sanctuary city or a welcoming city, but he needed to learn more about the specific implications of each, specifically in regard to future federal funding. Neither sanctuary cities nor welcoming cities have legal definitions yet.
However, he added, “We don’t ask for immigration status when people sign up for utilities, or a building permit. It’s just not a question we ask.”
In Duvall, Mayor Will Ibershof told citizens at the meeting, that he had also gotten phone calls from many people on the issue but “In evaluating this, I thought there was a significant risk to the city of Duvall.” He noted that in past years, the city has received nearly $10 million in federal funding for its Main Street projects.
As an alternative, he proposed a resolution declaring the city of Duvall to be “a welcoming, inclusive and safe community for all who live, work and visit here,” and the council and mayor to be “committed to joining with the people of Duvall in opposing hate, violence, or any acts of intolerance committed against our community members.”
Several council members suggested changes to the resolution language, such as specifically including immigration status in the list of items that individuals should not be harassed for; others included “faith, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability, housing status, economic status, or other social status.”
The Duvall City Council will revisit the resolution at a future meeting. Carnation City Council members will also discuss the issue again Feb. 21.