An executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday could halt federal funding to Langley if the city council decides to adopt sanctuary city status.
Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, which are municipalities that do not cooperate with immigration officers in detaining or holding illegal citizens, could cost the city $1.4 million in road-improvement funds from 2017-2022, according to Mayor Tim Callison.
“It would prevent us from making the kinds of infrastructure investments that the city council instructed us to make in the transportation plan,” Callison said.
There is $488,600 of federal funding in the city’s 2017 budget, according to Stan Berryman, city public works director. Callison also said a federal grant that offsets Langley police patrol costs and reimburses officers for overtime hours could be affected, totaling between $7,000-$10,000, Callison estimated.
The city has received and spent $3 million in federal funding in the past 10 years on road improvements.
The prospect of Langley becoming a sanctuary has been considered by the city council since November, when two Langley residents proposed the change. Advocates of the proposal have shown up in force during two city council meetings on Dec. 19 and Jan. 17, though none against the policy have spoken publicly. The city’s ethics board proposed that the city council avoid adopting a sanctuary city status in favor of a resolution that would protect city officials and the city council from violating their oaths of office, a proposal that was seconded by the city’s attorney, Mike Kenyon of Issaquah-based Kenyon Disend.
While none in opposition of the status have spoken publicly, residents against the proposal have contacted city officials and the city council via email.
Callison said the argument against becoming a sanctuary city is now much stronger since Trump followed through with his threat to halt federal funding to those cities that have adopted the position. He declined to give his personal feelings on the subject.
“When people started talking about us becoming a sanctuary city, there was a belief that Trump was going to cut it (federal funding) off,” Callison said. “Now it’s confirmed.”
Emerson and City Councilwoman Rene Neff remain supporters of adopting the sanctuary city status, but are also in favor of ratifying one of two proposed resolutions recommended by the ethics board.
One option recommended Callison issue an executive order to clarify the city’s ethical principles and values, while a second recommend the city council use similar language but also pass a resolution that reaffirms it. Emerson also said that by following the ethics board’s recommendation, the conversation for Langley becoming a sanctuary city can continue.
They are also conscientious of the possible impacts it might have if city officials are held accountable, who are potentially “in jeopardy of going to jail,” Emerson said.
Councilman Bruce Allen said he would not vote for Langley becoming a sanctuary city because he feels it is not necessary.
“The city is already a sanctuary city,” said Allen, referring to the city’s ethics code and the fact that Langley police do not inquire about immigration status. “All we need to do is put up a resolution, not an ordinance. We don’t need an ordinance because that puts us in a legal position.”
“It puts me in a place where I don’t want to be,” he added.
Ursula Shoudy and Thomas Gill of the Langley City Council could not be reached for comment by press time Friday afternoon.