Undeterred by promises made by President-elect Donald Trump that thousands, if not millions, of illegal aliens will soon be deported, a group of students at Western Washington University asked the Bellingham City Council to declare the city a sanctuary for illegal aliens. Members of a club for illegal immigrants and their advocates, known as the WWU Blue Group, admitted that the election of Donald Trump has made them uncertain about their future in the United States. Trump has vowed to deport criminal aliens, such as members of gangs.
Before the WWU Blue Group spoke to the council, a report by the Bellingham Herald said that a a local resident addressed the council to denounce the provision of sanctuary to illegal aliens. Thomas Paine addressed crimes such as murders committed by illegal immigrants for his concern. Paine mentioned the case of Kathryn Steinle. Steinle was stabbed to death by a male Mexican illegal immigrant who had several felony convictions and had been previously deported five times. Her death caused an outcry that eventually may lead to the adoption of the so-called “Kate Steinle” law, which would impose a mandatory five-year-sentence on any illegal immigrant who returns illegally after being deported.
According to the report, Blue Group President Victoria Matey asked the city council to prevent the arrest of illegal immigrants by federal authorities. Matey said she recognized that federal funding to the city could be rescinded as a result of her request. Speaking to the council, she said that there is fear in her community. However, she said of her group “... we are unafraid, and we are unapologetic.” She claimed that those opposing her come from a “place of hate. A place I don’t understand.”
In an interview with King5 News, Maria Prieto reacted to statements Trump made last year. “My family, we are good people, said Prieto. “We’re not criminals. We’re not rapists, nothing like he said.” She added that she was horrified that she and other illegal aliens would be lumped together with those who have committed violent crimes.
Currently, Bellingham prohibits its municipal police officers from detaining anyone solely on a suspicion of the immigrant status. However, Whatcom County Sheriff’s department operates the jail and shares information about inmates with agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The sheriff’s office does not arrest anyone on ICE detainers.
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