Langley: inclusive or exclusive? The outcome is unclear


This month Langley City Council members, purportedly representing one of the most progressive citizenry in Washington State, may finally reveal the actual character of Langley. Are we a “place of total inclusion” that welcomes all people, as implied on the city’s website and proclaimed from ubiquitous Inclusive Langley posters? Or, are we a city bowing to federal pressure to round up vulnerable individuals, destroy families and deport contributing members of our society?

I say “ most progressive” because our citizens voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, because hundreds of Langley citizens signed a petition supporting an inclusive ordinance, because testimony has been overwhelmingly in favor of an ordinance.

March 2017, the council took a step toward inclusiveness by passing an “Inclusive Langley” resolution. However, a resolution provides no legal protection for Langley police and staff.

The mayor has declined to publicly release the city attorney’s legal opinion of the ordinance, citing attorney/client privilege. Meanwhile, cities in our region continue to pass strong protective ordinances, supported by police and city attorney’s opinions.

Given the aggressive deportation tactics of the federal administration, we are witnessing the fabric of dozens of small towns being torn apart by the deportation of innocent residents.

Our police will eventually be asked to contribute to these deportation efforts, in effect to unconstitutionally fulfill the mandates of the federal government. When this occurs, without this ordinance in place, our police will have no legal standing to resist. Our police need this legal protection. Otherwise, we will watch our officers turn in neighbors, employees, parents of children in our schools, and the moral responsibility for these actions will collectively weigh upon all of us.

The council’s decision will be broadcast nationally. For better or worse, Langley news is regional and sometimes national news. The reputation of our purportedly inclusive city is in the balance. Which headline will we wake up to see? “Langley, Washington codifies protections for all persons,” or “Langley, Washington abandons their most vulnerable residents.” Either way, all South Whidbey residents and the national media are closely watching. Either way, it portrays our collective character. Are we inclusive or exclusionary?

Our vulnerable residents, police, city staff, and tourism efforts need this ordinance. I hope this month Langley shows the country it truly is the inclusive city it aspires to be.