An unlikely duo has formed an alliance to declare Kennewick an “inclusive community” that honors the diverse contributions of all residents, including undocumented immigrants.
Kennewick Councilman Bob Parks introduced a resolution developed by Latino civic leader Leo Perales to make the declaration when the council met Tuesday.
The council voted 4-3 to study the idea at a future workshop with members of the diversity commission.
The Parks-Perales resolution is one of several requests to local city councils this week asking elected leaders to support immigrants and refugees in light of a pair of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump.
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Pasco issued a statement on immigration Monday, asserting city services are not contingent on a resident’s immigration status.
The Richland City Council was expected to field a request Tuesday night by Tri-City Democrats to embrace a statement of support for area immigrants and refugees.
No local jurisdiction has declared itself a “sanctuary city,” the designation for municipalities that declare they will not lend official support to enforcement of federal immigration laws. Nor are they considering it.
Parks and Perales working together to promote inclusiveness in Kennewick is an unexpected pairing.
The two were on opposite sides of a dust-up last year when Parks re-posted an Internet meme on his personal Facebook account, expressing support for Trump’s border wall plan, angering local Latinos.
Perales was part of the coalition that pushed Kennewick to respond to the outcry, ultimately leading the city to form the diversity commission.
The two men say they’ve found common ground in the “inclusive community” concept, which Perales began developing shortly before the November presidential election.
If me and Bob can put together a resolution that passes, that sends a message. It brings the whole thing full circle.
Leo Perales, Latino civic leader
Perales has been seeking allies on city councils. He found a receptive ear in Parks, who told the Herald he agrees with much of what Perales is advocating, though not all.
Perales said the concept differs from sanctuary cities in its broader interest in all city services, not just law enforcement. The resolution states the city does not discriminate on the basis of many factors, including immigration status.
Parks intends to edit language in the draft resolution that says Kennewick “will not honor or enforce federal immigration laws,” he said.
He wants to clarify that Kennewick will enforce immigration law when criminal activity is involved. He will also explicitly state that Kennewick is not a sanctuary city.
“I think we should come out and say we’re not,” he said.
Parks and Perales both acknowledge the shock value of their collaboration, given last year’s Facebook fracas.
“We agree on a lot of things,” Perales said Tuesday.
The two plan to share the “inclusive communities” resolution with the larger community.
“We’re going to take this show on the road. we’re going to do the Badger Club and do some TV interviews,” Parks said.
I don’t know if cities are supposed to be critiquing federal immigration policy.
Bob Thompson, Richland mayor
Perales hopes the unlikeliness will sell the resolution across the Mid-Columbia.
“If me and Bob can put together a resolution that passes, that sends a message,” Perales said. “It brings the whole thing full circle.”
The Tri-City Democrats planned to ask the Richland City Council on Tuesday to endorse E Pluribus Unum Tri-Cities, a statement of support of area residents “who may be feeling uncertain about the road ahead” in light of the president’s executive orders.
“We stand together for our rights to safety, dignity, and respect. We will not accept hate in our community. We will work together to create a culture of inclusion and build the community we all want to live in,” it says in part.
Richland Mayor Bob Thompson said he had not been approached about endorsing any statements of support for refugees or immigrants, and he was skeptical whether it is an appropriate role for the city.
“I don’t know if cities are supposed to be critiquing federal immigration policy,” Thompson said.
On Monday, Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell said immigration status is not a requirement for its 73,000 residents to access any municipal services.
The city, like some council members, has been getting questions in light of the ongoing national dialogue, Zabell said. That led city officials to develop a policy statement.
We cannot enforce federal laws. I work for you and for (City Manager Dave Zabell). I don’t work for the president or Congress.
Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger
People should expect to be asked for personal information in certain situations, but in no way will a community member be asked about or required to provide documentation of immigration status.
A driver stopped by police for a potential traffic violation must provide their license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
A resident wanting to open a water and sewer account must show they are authorized to do so for that property, which requires establishing identity. And a participant in a recreational program must give their name and a form of payment to register.
Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said officers will help other law enforcement agencies if requested, but they will not be arresting on federal crimes.
“We cannot enforce federal laws,” Metzger told council members. “I work for you and for (Zabell). I don’t work for the president or Congress.”