My Immigration Policy
When we talk about immigration, it's important to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration.
Legal immigration levels are determined by the federal government; they are not the something the Seattle City Council can or should interfere in.
Illegal immigration is a concern in Seattle as it is in many other large cities. Illegal immigration brings with it some good things and some bad things. Good things include workers who want to work hard to feed their families. Bad things include a minority of bad folks (criminals) who are coming in with the good Another issue is the impact on our economy. Undocumented workers do create jobs and pump money into the economy. However, since they often have to work "under the table" they have contributed to the growth of a large underground economy, both in Seattle and Washington State. While this system is good for some (it saves employers money on labor and paperwork, for instance) it is hurting legitimate employers who follow the rules and hire only documented workers. It also deprives local, state, and federal government of revenue from business taxes.
What's the right way to address illegal immigration?
Undocumented workers have put down roots in our city. They have children who go to school here. They are honest hardworking members of the community. It seems wrong to deport them to a place their children have no familiarity with. The City cannot simply defy federal law or obstruct the efforts of federal agents, as the Mayor and some CMs have suggested. We can, however, advocate for a slower, more thoughtful, approach that does not tear our community apart.
I would support a gradual, phased-in program of penalizing employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Alternately, I might support an incentive-based system for employers who do not hire such workers. The idea here is not to punish the workers but to disincentivize employers who benefit from the underground economy. Without the advantage to be gained from having a tax-free, paperwork- free workforce, employers won't hire undocumented immigrants. Without under-the-table jobs waiting for them in Seattle, these workers won't come here.
I support an amnesty program for undocumented workers who have put down roots here. I also support stronger federal efforts to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country. Ultimately, though, immigration policy is the province of the federal government in Washington. It is not within the City Council's power to change. We can make an appeal to compassion in Washington, D.C., but in the meantime, City officials should cooperate with federal officials in enforcing the law.