Mayor of Seattle says city will remain a legal sanctuary for immigrants despite Donald Trump's win

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The Independent US

Seattle will serve as a “sanctuary” for immigrants despite the election victory of Donald Trump and will use existing legislation to protect non-native citizens, the city’s mayor has promised.

Mayor Ed Murray said he would defend the Washington State city’s liberal stance on immigration even if it came at the expense of losing federal funding, which will be allocated by the Trump-led government from 2017.

So-called "sanctuary cities" have long been a point of contention in the US immigration debate, with Republicans taking a tougher stance against them.

“We're a nation of immigrants. Continuing to be a sanctuary city is the most American thing we can do,” Mr Murray wrote on Twitter. “We are a city that will build bridges and not let walls be built.”

The president-elect’s campaign was strongly characterised by anti-immigrant sentiment and he promised to block funding for cities that refused to cooperate with his policies.

As part of the "Blue Wall" of more Democratic-leaning West Coast states, Washington voted decisively against Trump in the election.

Seattle city legislation passed in 2003 prevents police officers or other officials from asking about an immigrant’s legal status without a reasonable suspicion they have committed an offence or been deported in the past.

The law's supporters claim it improves public safety as it enables undocumented migrants to interact with the authorities without fear of being detained. 

Mr Murray has a long history of liberal campaigning, having supported same sex marriage and passed a municipal law on minimum wage that made Seattle’s the highest in the country.

Speaking to journalists after the results were called, he expressed concern that the Trump campaign “demonstrated outright misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia and nationalism, racism and authoritarian tendencies.”

However, he urged citizens to build bridges with supporters of Mr Trump, saying they were people who were “struggling” because of economic inequality.

“Regardless of tonight’s national results, tomorrow Seattle will remain a city guided by the values of equality, inclusion and openness,” said Mr Murray in a statement issued in response to the election result.

“Tomorrow we will continue to support women, we will welcome as neighbours our Muslim brothers and sisters, and tomorrow black lives will still matter. Our city will remain strong because of our diversity, not in spite of it.

“In Seattle, our results show a city ready to lead in building a more equitable and progressive future.

“As we look forward, we will challenge our people to live up to our values, to ensure we build on the foundation that was laid tonight and that we foster the equitable, inclusive world we envision.”