IRLI Files Response to Open Borders Lawsuit Challenging Initiative to Repeal Spokane’s Sanctuary Law

Press Releases

August 16, 2017

Ensuring the safety and security of the American people

(Washington, D.C.) – This week, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and its co-counsel Richard M. Stephens of Stephens & Klinge LLP, filed a response brief opposing a motion for declaratory judgment (attached here) on behalf of their client Respect Washington, a grassroots anti-illegal immigration organization, in a lawsuit brought by open borders groups in Washington State to prevent Respect Washington’s anti-sanctuary initiative from being placed on the City of Spokane’s ballot this November. Just last week, IRLI and Mr. Stephens successfully assisted Respect Washington in forcing the City of Burien, Washington to place an anti-sanctuary initiative on the November ballot.

In 2014, the Spokane City Council enacted two ordinances aimed at protecting illegal aliens. The first, Ordinance C-35164, prohibited the Spokane Police Department from engaging in so-called “bias-based profiling” that relies on actual or perceived characteristics, including “citizenship status,” of an individual suspected of unlawful activity. The second, Ordinance C-35167, prohibited City employees, including law enforcement officers, from inquiring into the immigration status of any person or otherwise engaging in activities designed to ascertain the immigration status of any person. It also, among other things, forbid the Spokane Police Department from investigating, arresting, or detaining an individual because of immigration status.

Recognizing the dangerous impact on public safety that these two sanctuary ordinances would have on the City of Spokane and its residents, Respect Washington quickly submitted the language for what would become Proposition 1 to the City Clerk. Specifically, the proposal submitted would amend Ordinance C-35164 to remove the reference to “citizenship status” and repeal C-35167 entirely.

Upon learning of Respect Washington’s intent to dismantle its recently enacted sanctuary laws, the City Council subsequently passed an ordinance adding requirements for filing an initiative petition, clearly seeking to undermine the group’s efforts to restore the rule of law. Despite this politically-charged move, the Spokane County Auditor nonetheless certified the group had attained a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot, and the City Attorney determined that the proposal did not violate the newly-minted initiative rules aimed at destroying their progress. Consequently, having exhausted its efforts to thwart the will of the people, in February 2016, the City Council passed a resolution officially placing Proposition 1 on the November 2017 ballot.

True to form, the open borders lobby picked up where the pro-illegal alien City Council left off, challenging the veracity of Proposition 1 despite the initiative being rightly placed on the ballot. On July 27, several open borders groups filed suit, asking the Spokane County Superior Court for a declaratory judgment that Proposition 1 is invalid and an order prohibiting the County Auditor from placing it on the ballot.

In IRLI’s brief filed this week, among other things, IRLI asserts that the Plaintiffs lack standing to bring the suit, that the City Council’s changes to the laws governing initiatives do not impact Proposition 1, that Proposition 1 falls squarely within the legislative initiative power granted to the people of Washington, and that the Proposition is consistent with the rules of professional conduct and state laws regarding the treatment of immigration status information.

Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s Executive Director, commented, “The Plaintiffs’ lawsuit serves as yet another example of the lengths to which the open borders lobby will go to not only undermine the rule of law, but the will of the American people. The City Council followed the law and placed Proposition 1 on the ballot; the Plaintiffs should accept this outcome rather than engaging in tactics to subvert the democratic process.” Wilcox continued, “Sanctuary policies threaten public safety and put the needs of criminal aliens above those of law-abiding citizens and legal residents, often endangering the very communities that the Plaintiffs proclaim to protect. They should be focusing on making all individuals they represent more, instead of less, safe.”

For additional information, contact: Jade Haney • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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