City of Seattle files Freedom of Information Act requests for information relating to Trump immigration order

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced during his 2017 State of the City address that, under the direction of City Attorney Pete Holmes, the City of Seattle will file a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with multiple federal agencies regarding President Trump’s immigration Executive Order targeting immigrants and refugees. The requests are being sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“President Trump’s Executive Order has created widespread confusion and fear in immigrant communities across the country,” said Mayor Murray. “Seattle has been here before with the internment of Japanese Americans 75 years ago—we will not go back to those dark days. We will seek to determine the Administration’s definition of ‘sanctuary cities’ and the enforcement actions the federal government may take against us.  We will also seek detailed information about the Administration’s changes to travel and immigration policy including the DACA program. It is the government’s duty to provide clear and accurate information to all residents and we are prepared to take action to get those answers.”

The FOIA requests seek details related to President Trump’s Executive Order 13768 announcing that “sanctuary jurisdictions” will not receive federal funds and which gave immigration authorities greater discretion in immigration policy, detainment, and deportation.

The Executive Order has been characterized as vague, with limited public information available. The FOIA requests call for the federal agencies to provide Seattle all records and plans pertaining to the intent and enforcement of the order in a timely manner. Federal law requires that the agencies respond within 20 days.

 During his State of the City speech at Idris Mosque, Mayor Murray said:

“In today’s atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, let me reaffirm my commitment that we will remain a welcoming city for all. Under my direction, along with City Attorney Pete Holmes, in response to the Administration’s actions and rhetoric regarding immigrants and refugees, today Seattle will send a series of Freedom of Information Requests to multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. We believe that the rule of law is on our side, and we will take legal action if the federal government does not answer our requests in a timely manner.”

Additionally, last week Mayor Murray directed the City of Seattle to join an amicus brief in Darweesh v. Trump, seeking an injunction against Trump’s Executive Order banning foreigners from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States. Seattle joined several cities from across the country on this brief, noting the ban’s impact on safety, the economy and security. The case stems from the detainment and threatened deportation of Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi national with a valid travel visa, after he arrived in the United States.


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State of the City: Homelessness Response Consolidated Action Plan

Mayor Ed Murray will be temporarily activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to accelerate and coordinate our response to the homelessness crisis in Seattle.

Led by Director of City Operations Fred Podesta, activating the EOC will utilize a successful model to manage coordination of both internal departments and external partners to more urgently provide services and lower barriers to housing for people living on our streets. While work at the EOC will be centered around accelerating the work of Pathways Home and getting individualized services to people living outside, the collaborative model will also foster innovative ideas to address this crisis. Work at the EOC will include:

  1. Accelerating the implementation of Pathways Home, the City’s plan to address homelessness and the guiding principles of getting individualized services to people living unsheltered and getting them inside quickly.
  2. Launching the Navigation Team, a specially trained group of outreach workers and Seattle Police officers. Navigation Team members will go into unauthorized encampments throughout the city to help identify and implement individual solutions that break down barriers preventing unsheltered people from moving indoors.
  3. Addressing trash and associated public health hazards to provide a safer environment for both people living unsheltered and the community at-large. People living in unauthorized encampments are more vulnerable to crime and abuse, making this work critical to their safety.

The Seattle EOC’s established mission is to minimize the impact of emergencies and disasters on the community through coordinated planning, information-sharing and resource management between all City departments, partnering agencies and the public. In this case,  the City is using the coordination, communications and tracking tools of the EOC, and applying it to the work we are doing to address the critical needs of people living outside. This model provides a daily check-in on issues and solutions, engaging all of the participants in focused tactics and nimble response.

Why is the City doing this?
Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis with many causes. Those living on our streets face tremendous challenges, from the loss of a job or home to severe mental health or substance abuse disorders, that the City is working to help address.

The impact this crisis has on the individuals experiencing homelessness as well as the broader community is a growing challenge. Originally, the State of Emergency on Homelessness was intended to invoke greater help from our state and federal partners, but over a year later, we are still waiting for that needed support.

The City has already implemented many initiatives and new resources in the last three years, led by Pathways Home, the plan to create a more integrated homelessness services system based on individualized services and measurable goals. This plan has the core mission of breaking down barriers to moving people inside. As part of the effort to tailor services, the City launched the Navigation Team, will be opening a new Navigation Center, and is implementing the Bridging the Gap plan to address the immediate needs of 3,000 people living on our streets. More than $100 million has been budgeted for this work over two years.

How is this different from what the City is already doing around homelessness?
We are capitalizing on the EOC’s successful, proven unified structure that brings all players into the same room to coordinate efforts and ensure an efficient operation. This structure also has many resources in place that facilitate quick and clear coordination, communication and execution of duties. Using the EOC model, the City will tap into all of its resources to align our efforts around the current principles of Pathways Home, and to foster more innovative solutions to the homelessness crisis.

How is this different from a typical EOC activation (e.g., related to severe weather or other acts of nature, massive public events, etc.)?
While employing the EOC for the homelessness crisis is unconventional, aiding those living on our streets requires the kind of coordinated, citywide effort the EOC is designed to facilitate. This activation will be open-ended, as the City works to address this crisis from many angles, and will include daily check-ins with all representatives, followed by on the ground work to help people living on our streets.

 Who is involved?
Like other events where the EOC is engaged, all City departments will have some role, whether leading specific programs or simply providing resources to the effort. City deparments already partner both internally and externally with stakeholder agencies and organizations, and social service, shelter and housing providers to help people living on our streets move inside. The EOC has been a successful model to coordinate with internal and external partners such as King County, Public Health, WSDOT, Washington State Patrol, the United Way of King County and other service providers.

What are the goals of this effort?
The City’s strategy, Pathways Home, is guiding all the work we do to move people into housing, which is our ultimate goal. With this in mind, the goals of the EOC activation include helping those living outdoors move into shelter as quickly as possible by developing an individual pathway to housing based on their needs. The activation will support the Navigation Team, which focuses on solutions for individuals, helping people living unsheltered move to safer alternatives and connect them with services to ensure their stability.

Additionally, the City will continue to focus on collecting trash on public property to reduce the associated public health hazards in unauthorized encampments and in the community. This work will be done based on the principles laid out in Bridging the Gap, which detailed that new protocols for encampment cleanups must ensure the civil rights of residents are respected.

Is the City still using the Pathways Home plan?
Yes. The City is focused on making the support system more efficient and effective to move people into housing as quickly as possible and offer individualized services. This plan is called Pathways Home and it includes six strategies that revamp the entire service delivery system. We are working with shelters to increase emergency shelter capacity and expanding access to those services. See for more.

How long will the City be using the EOC?
The City is committed to helping people move indoors as quickly as possible. We will use the EOC as long as it is needed.

What is the cost?
City departments will utilize existing resources for this effort. It is not anticipated that new funds will be required for this coordination. However, Mayor Murray announced an effort to double the funding to address homelessness during his State of the City speech, to significantly accelerate and expand the City’s work under Pathways Home.

For more information on the City’s homelessness response, visit:

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State of the City: New Sugary Beverage Tax to Fund Eliminating Educational Disparities

Mayor Ed Murray proposed major new investments in education to eliminate the opportunity gap between white students and African American/Black students and other historically underrepresented students of color. These investments are based on recommendations from the Education Summit Advisory Group. To fund these recommendations, Mayor Murray will propose a local tax on sugary drinks including some forms of soda, energy drinks, juice and sweetened teas. The proposed ordinance would impose a two-cents ($0.02) per ounce tax on distributors of sugary drinks.

Several other cities have implemented similar taxes to fund critical issues such as education, and have found additional health benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said soda taxes are “the single most effective remedy to reverse the obesity epidemic,” and a similar tax in Berkeley, Calif. reduced the consumption of sugary drinks by 20 percent.

The proposed tax is expected to raise $16 million per year to fund programs recommended by the Education Summit Advisory Group.

 Who Would Pay?

  • The tax will be levied on distributors of sugary drinks in the City.
  • The tax applies to all distributors regardless of the size of the business.

What Products Would be Subject to the Tax?

  • The ordinance defines sugary drinks to include liquids with a specified amount of caloric sweetener, syrups and powders that are used to prepare sugary beverages, including:
  • Sodas (such as Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew)
  • Energy and sports drinks (such as Monster, Red Bull, Gatorade, Powerade)
  • Fruit drinks (such as Sunny D)
  • Sweetened teas and ready-to-drink coffee drinks (such as Arizona, Starbucks)
  • The ordinance exempts such beverages as 100% fruit juice, in-store prepared coffee beverages, infant formula, medicine, and would NOT apply to “diet” beverages.

 What Programs Will Receive Funding from the Revenue Raised by the Tax?

  • Revenue raised through this tax will be primarily focused towards funding the recommendations from the Education Summit Advisory Group. These recommendations are aimed at reducing disparities between white and African American/Black students and other historically underrepresented students of color.
  • As part of these programs, investments will be made for Birth-to-Five programs such as expansion of the Parent-Child Home Program.
  • Additional investments will be made to expand healthy food access through the “Fresh Bucks” program.

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State of the City: New Investments in Eliminating Educational Disparities

Mayor Ed Murray announced a series of new investments in education, based on recommendations that came from over a year of community engagement, aimed at addressing disparities between white students and African American/Black students and other historically underserved students of color. The City will raise revenue to provide on-going investments in enhancements to birth-to-five programs, before-and after-school opportunities, family engagement, addressing disproportionality in discipline, summer learning, school-based mentoring, and added college and career readiness programs.  It also includes a significant one-time expansion of the 13th Year Promise Scholarship.

The on-going investments (two-year totals) include:

  • Promoting Family Engagement and Collaboration – $2.7M
    Expand opportunities that increase parents’ ability to support their child’s learning and increase educators’ ability to authentically engage parents. Add funds to schools for parent engagement activities and parent advocates.
  • Enhancing Before and After School Opportunities – $35K (2018-19 School Year)
    Increase wraparound programs that occur outside of regular school hours including STEM learning opportunities, partnerships with Seattle Parks and increasing funding to community based organizations.
  • Expanding School-Based Mentoring – $581K
    Match a caring adult with every child who is struggling to keep up with school requirements. Increasing funding for successful programs like My Brother’s Keeper to additional middle schools and ensure all students have the support they need to succeed.
  • Reducing Disproportionality in Discipline – $1.5M
    Build a positive school culture and support student social-emotional development. This will include coordinated parent, student and teacher outreach so that students having issues at schools can receive personalized case management. Funding will also be made available to train teachers and staff on how to reduce discipline disparities.
  • Increasing Innovation School Investments – $3.8M
    Develop a tiered approach to intervention with students who are performing below grade-level to equalize the playing field. This funding will expand the number of middle and high schools getting flexible funds—a model that asks the school to creatively meet the needs of their students. Programs can include: social/emotional support, college and career planning, experiential learning, more rigorous curricula and culturally relevant curricula.
  • Growing Summer Learning Programs – $2M
    Provide struggling students with additional academic time to catch up with their peers, free and nutritious meals, and high quality enrichment experiences. Programs funded could include cultural or gender specific programming for summer enrichment activities.
  • Adding Workplace-Based Learning Programs – $2M
    Foster post-secondary success and workplace preparedness by providing stipends for students to experience career opportunities.
  • Supporting Educator Workforce Diversity – $841K
    Create opportunities for instructional assistants to earn their teaching certificates. Funding will provide more support for diverse assistants to gain credentials needed to join the teaching corps, facilitating an easier pipeline process.
  • Expanding Birth to 5 year Investments – $4M
    Expanding programs to care for and prepare children with social and academic skills, setting them up for academic success in school.
  • 13th Year Investment – $5M (one time investment)
    The 13th Year Promise Scholarship provides scholarship and payment assistance – along with college readiness classes – to graduates from select Seattle Public High Schools for the first year attending any of the Seattle Colleges.  The new funding will help create an endowment to help expand the program, managed by the Seattle Colleges.

Ongoing Collaboration:
Mayor Murray has also challenged the City to create strong relationships across all sectors – business philanthropy, higher education community based organization, parents, students and educators – so the vision of an equitable Seattle can be achieved. The City and Seattle Public Schools will be convening an education roundtable with community and business partners to knit together a shared public and private vision for ending the opportunity gap together.

To implement this action plan, Mayor Murray announced the partnership and financial contributions of key members of the philanthropic community, in addition to a measure to raise revenue. Contributors include:

  • Seattle Foundation
  • Casey Family Programs
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Raikes Foundation
  • Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

In November, the City received recommendations from the Education Summit Advisory Group and began working to implement programs which will effectively address the achievement gap. The City is already working to address systemic inequity in 2017 by increasing summer learning programs to serve an additional 200 students including investing in culturally relevant programs, expanding My Brother’s Keeper to five additional middle schools and implementing the innovation school model in a high school.  The Department of Education and Early Learning will work to dovetail the additional program investments announced today with ongoing work to end disparities in education.

These recommendations resulted from a community engagement process that heard from more than 2,000 community voices and culminated in the first citywide Education Summit in more than 25 years.

The City remains committed to working with our partners in Olympia to pass a statewide funding plan for basic education that ensures that all students, no matter their zip code or background, have equal opportunities for success.


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State of the City: Our Best – Seattle’s Commitment to Young Black Men

Our Best is the City of Seattle’s first ever initiative focusing specifically on improving life outcomes for young Black men. The initiative represents a focused investment by Mayor Murray that aims to address the disproportionate impact of institutional racism on Black people, and particularly young Black men. Ensuring that all Seattle residents have access to opportunity requires focused approaches to dismantling racial disparities, removing barriers and transforming systems that have hurt our most marginalized communities. By investing in a staff position and structure around Our Best, Mayor Murray seeks to ensure the mission becomes embedded in our City’s DNA and becomes a lasting model.

Mayor Murray launched the Youth Opportunity Initiative to ensure that every young person in Seattle has access to opportunities and resources that allow them to transition successfully to adulthood.

Rooted in the key pillars of the Youth Opportunity Initiative, Our Best is an explicit commitment to programmatic and systems changes the ensure young Black men have access to opportunity. Specific goals include:

  • Close opportunity gaps in Seattle Public Schools by increasing the percentage of black male high school graduates and postsecondary attainment.
  • Advance economic mobility by increasing the number of Black males gaining access to and engaging in meaningful employment opportunities.
  • Increase the percentage of young Black men experiencing good health.
  • Reduce the percentage young Black men entering the criminal justice system.
  • Close mentoring gaps for young Black men and boys by recruiting more Black men to service as mentors for young Black men.

Through the Youth Opportunity Initiative, the City has already invested in several strategies aimed at supporting young black men to be their best for themselves, their families and their community, including Career Bridge, the Zero Detention Program, My Brother’s Keeper and more.

With the launch of Our Best, the City is also committing to:

  • A robust new mentoring recruiting and training campaign for black men.  In Seattle, there are not enough black men mentors, leaving many mentor programs ill-equipped to support young black men in culturally responsive ways.  Our goal with this new commitment of the Our Best program is to double the number of black men mentors.
  • Convening the Our Best Advisory Council to advise the Mayor and City leaders on a long-term strategy to support young black male achievement.
  • Creating a new Special Advisor to the Mayor focused on black male achievement to work full time across departments, with the Advisory Council and with the many community leaders who have already been working in this area.

Our Best is all of ours. And the fight for young black men is a fight for Seattle, and our region.

Aligned with the Race & Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), Our Best builds on the administration’s existing investments in and record of addressing life outcomes for young Black men and represents the culmination of a series of actions by Mayor Murray, including:

  • Establishing a Youth Opportunity Cabinet which includes Dwayne Chapelle (Department of Education and Early Learning), Catherine Lester (Human Services Department) and Brian Surratt (Office of Economic Development) in 2016 to ensure coordination and alignment across the numerous City departments to maximize impact of City investments.
  • Mayor Murray signing onto Cities United (2013), a collective of mayors across America who united to end violence in their cities.
  • Mayor Murray signing onto President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (2014), a national call to action for cities to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and men of color.
  • The Mayor’s Youth Opportunity Summit (2015), an all-day convening with youth and young adults that specifically focused improving outcomes for young men of color.
  • A series of community listening sessions with young Black men led by the Mayor’s Bloomberg-funded Innovation Team (I-Team).

To learn more about Our Best, visit:

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