The Washougal City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting the Arizona immigration law and urging Washington state lawmakers to pass similar legislation.
The council approved the resolution 5-2, with council members Molly Coston and Paul Greenlee in opposition. The resolution encouraged state representatives in the 15th and 18th legislative districts, who represent the city of Washougal, to sponsor and enact immigration law similar to the law in Arizona.
Councilman Jon Russell, who sponsored the resolution, said illegal immigration affects everyone, from large metropolitan areas to cities of 13,500, like Washougal. Public safety, health care and education take the brunt of the financial burden resulting from illegal immigration, he said.
“It’s important for local municipalities to let their legislators know how they want them to vote in Olympia,” Russell said.
Greenlee said he voted against the resolution because he doesn’t believe weighing in on an Arizona law is city business. He considered the resolution partisan politics.
“This strikes me as outside the scope of the city and, frankly, outside the scope of the state of Washington,” Greenlee said. “It’s not up to the state of Washington to support or oppose a law in the state of Arizona. …And it’s certainly not city business to support or endorse a law in the state of Arizona.”
Coston could not be reached for comment.
Russell said a citizen approached him and asked the council to voice its position on the immigration law. Russell discussed the idea with Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel and they agreed the council should take a stance, Russell said. Russell said the decision was not motivated by his current bid for an 18th Legislative District seat.
“I certainly do support Arizona’s right to defend their borders,” McDaniel said. “I would also support the Washington state Legislature if they passed a similar law.”
The Arizona law, which is set to go into effect July 29, requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally. Being in the country illegally will be a state crime under the new law.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The federal government will also ask a judge to grant an injunction to block the law from taking effect later this month.
Russell said the lawsuit is a political maneuver by the White House. McDaniel called the lawsuit a mistake.
“I’m embarrassed that our federal government is suing a state,” McDaniel said. “I think they should be ashamed.”
Other cities across the country have shown their support by passing similar resolutions, including Long Beach. The Woodland City Council considered a similar resolution last month, but the resolution failed 4-3.
Russell said he watched the discussions and decisions in other cities before suggesting a resolution at the council workshop June 28. The council discussed the issue at the workshop and took action near the end of Tuesday’s regular meeting.
“One of the things we learned from Woodland is when you go out and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ it hypes the issue and you’re not able to have a common sense discussion,” he said. “So we didn’t make a big production out of it before we did it.”
Russell said a handful of people commented on the resolution at the workshop — most supporting the action — but nobody spoke up during the public comment portion of the Tuesday council meeting.
Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or email@example.com.