By Nellie Ferguson
“Inviting, equitable and safe.”
These words, used to describe a community, seemed tolerant and reasonable to the Shoreline City Council, but some residents at their recent meeting objected. At the meeting on Jan. 23, to vote on Resolution 401, Assistant City Manager Sean Norris was careful to define what the resolution was — and was not — before opening the meeting to public comment.
“Resolution 401 resolves Shoreline to oppose hate. Resolution 401 does not declare Shoreline to be a sanctuary city. There is no legal definition of what that is,” Norris said, also emphasizing that 401 was not a new policy, that it “re-affirmed Shoreline’s values, and that city staff had no reason to ask about immigration status.”
The meeting proved contentious, with both those for and against making their thoughts known. While some made unsubstantiated claims and voiced unfounded fears about immigrants, many others came to the defense of their undocumented neighbors.
Nigel Keiffer of Lake Forest Park, wearing the signature red “Make America Great Again” Trump hat, looked to the audience as he made his comment. “It is not an act of hate to enforce the law.” Keiffer called the resolution “nothing more than subterfuge to undermine the immigration laws of the United States.”
And to the City Council, “If you approve Resolution 401, you are nothing more than a subversive, and worthy of all the contempt that comes with that title.”
Taking to the podium after Keiffer was Winston Lee, president of the SCC Associated Student Government. He spoke in strong support of the resolution, expressing the desire to unite the community, build a better America and show leadership to other cities across the state.
“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Lloyd Holloway of Shoreline said, referring to Assistant City Mayor Norris’s statement about Shoreline not being a sanctuary city.
Nancy Morris was one of the first speakers in support of the resolution. She believed a lot of people had ungrounded concerns and fears about the resolution; Morris’s concerns were about the families she did not believe should be broken up. “We must avoid at all costs the trends of scapegoating toward immigrants that’s becoming a very normalized behavior in this country.” Morris implored the public to see the good in others.
Many public commenters at the City Council meeting used the term “illegals.” One international student at SCC, Chelsea Ip, finds the term offensive. “It makes them sound like you’re calling them imposters,” Ip said. “Unlawful,” according to her, was slightly better, “undocumented” being the best of the three. Worried about Trump’s recent restrictions placed on immigrants, Ip said, “He just let out his order yesterday. It’ll affect international students. We’re all worried it’ll affect our education. Some students that went home for break might have problems returning.”
Ip stated, “Trump will cause a lot of racism in our country,” noting it was obvious how he prioritizes “natives” over immigrants.
Lois Harrison, a Shoreline resident since 1955, confessed she was “shocked and shaken by the apparent feeling that immigrants are somehow lawbreakers [or] undesirable citizens.” Harrison told the council that most were hard-working families. Another supporter of the resolution, Dan Jacoby, asked, “How is this disrespectful of federal law? It’s not.”
After public comments had concluded, Councilman Keith Scully lamented that “this changes no policy. Why is this taking up an hour of council time?”
Councilman Keith McGlashan added that the resolution reiterated the council’s belief, and stated, “I do have a fear. Though ‘sanctuary city’ is not mentioned here, I do agree with some of the people in the audience that use the term ‘a duck is a duck.’ Particularly with our new administration. If it’s decided to pull funding from sanctuary cities, this resolution could be their ‘alternative fact’ that all of a sudden we are a sanctuary city.”
The mayor had this to say: “If there is one lesson I hope everyone got out of today, it’s that there is a dialogue that needs to happen. We are one community … We care about our neighbors, we care about our families, and that dialogue sometimes doesn’t occur when we disagree. And today I saw a very civil dialogue full of very passionate people on both sides. I applaud that, and hope that conversation continues.”
For Shoreline, that conversation will continue in an “inviting, equitable and safe” environment. Resolution 401 passed unanimously.