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Pierce County Council takes up illegal immigration issue

Post by David Wickert on May 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
May 19, 2010 3:45 pm

The Pierce County Council may weigh in on the illegal immigration debate by urging government agencies to check the legal status of their workers.

On June 1 the council will consider a resolution urging the state and local governments in Washington to adopt the federal E-Verify employment verification system to determine the legal status of potential hires. Lakewood and Pierce County already have adopted that system.

The resolution also urges the United States government to “guard the nation’s borders against unlawful alien entry” and urges governments at every level to “facilitate” federal enforcement of laws governing illegal aliens and to change laws that “through insufficient document verification or other processes, assist aliens in maintaining an unlawful presence in the United States.”

You can read the text of the resolution below.

Councilman Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, co-sponsored the measure with Councilman Shawn Bunney, R-Lake Tapps. Both are running for higher office – Muri for Congress and Bunney for the state House of Representatives.

Muri said illegal immigration is a budget issue for Pierce County government. According to the resolution, last year the county received about $380,000 from the federal government to cover costs associated with 2,100 illegal immigrants detained at the Pierce County jail.

That’s just 30 percent of the county’s actual cost for arresting, booking and incarcerating illegal aliens until they’re transferred to the federal government’s Northwest Detention Center, Muri said.

Pierce County is the latest local government to take up the contentious issue of illegal immigration. The Tacoma City Council is considering a resolution opposing Arizona’s controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants.

“The whole issue of illegal immigration has come to the top of a lot of our thought processes,” Muri said.

Here’s a draft of the resolution the County Council will consider:

  • A Resolution Encouraging Measures to Ensure That Government Spending Benefits Lawful Citizens And That The Borders of The United States Are Secured Against Illegal Entry.

    Whereas, unemployment in Pierce County for April of 2010 was 10.8 percent according to the Washington State Department of Employment Security; and

  • Whereas, it is a proper function of government to seek to secure full employment for its citizens and to ensure access to jobs for citizens; and

    Whereas, it is estimated that there were between 100,000 and 200,000 unauthorized immigrants in the State of Washington in 2008 (“A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States”, Pew Research Center, April, 2009); and

    Whereas, the Federation of American Immigration Reform estimates, as of 2008, that there were 225,000 aliens unlawfully present in Washington State; and

    Whereas, a 2004 State Auditor Report regarding federal funding for unallowable Medicaid services provided to undocumented aliens found that, from January 2003 through December 2003, 14,553 undocumented aliens received services through the Washington State administered Medicaid program for a total of $90,590,401 and for the same period in 2004, 15,890 undocumented aliens received services costing $103,698,442; and

    Whereas, in 2009, Pierce County only received $379,837.00 in partial compensation from the United States government for costs associated with 2,100 immigration holds in the Pierce County jail; and

    Whereas, social benefit and criminal justice costs associated with aliens unlawfully present in the United States are placing financial burdens on governments at all levels at a time of economic uncertainty, widespread job dislocation and financial pressures; and

    Whereas, governments at all levels in Washington State have not developed adequate mechanisms to assist the federal government control aliens unlawfully present in the United States; and

    Whereas, the United States government has not addressed the problem of aliens unlawfully present in the United States with sufficient vigor to stem the problem; Now Therefore,

    BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of Pierce County:

    Section 1.  The United States government is urged to guard the Nation’s borders against unlawful alien entry and to fully enforce federal laws concerning the conduct of aliens unlawfully present in the United States.

    Section 2. The State of Washington and agencies of Washington State, including municipalities, are urged to adopt laws incorporating the federal E-Verify system of document verification into their hiring and contracting protocols.

    Section 3.  The State of Washington and agencies of Washington State, including municipalities, are urged to facilitate, where possible and lawful, the federal enforcement of laws concerning the conduct of aliens unlawfully present in the United States and to amend those laws and ordinances that, through insufficient document verification or other processes, tend to assist aliens in maintaining an unlawful presence in the United States.

    ADOPTED this  day of  , 2010.

    ATTEST: PIERCE COUNTY COUNCIL

    Pierce County, Washington

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