January 31, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Trump:
Democratic Members of the Washington State Legislature share your desire to protect our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. However, we unanimously object to the Executive Order dated January 27, 2017, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” because it makes us less safe, harms our economy, and contravenes core American values.
This executive order threatens the foundational values of our state and nation, including freedom from religious discrimination and our unique identity as a country established by courageous immigrants.
Governments derive their power from the consent of the people.
We do not consent.
Implementation of this order has already been suspended in several federal courts including the US District Court for Western Washington. Its constitutionality and lawfulness will be the subject of debate and further challenges.
It will have significant impact on Washington state. Our state is home to world-renowned businesses, a vibrant tourism sector, and major agricultural markets. A large number of the workforce in these businesses is from other countries. These workers need our immigration laws and policies to allow smooth transitions within the global workforce.
Immigration deeply impacts our labor workforce. Here in Washington state, more than 17% of our labor workforce was born in other countries. Immigrants own more than 15% of small businesses, and account for more than $1 billion dollars in annual economic activity in our state.
Our state is also home to world-class educational and medical institutions. The students and scientists in these institutions contribute to lifesaving medical and engineering technologies, cutting-edge research, and ensure a robust future for Washington. We cannot shut the door on these scientists and call that protecting the nation from terrorism.
Last but not least, many Washingtonians hold dual citizenships, and have spouses who have different citizenship. Many Washingtonians are also legal permanent residents, enjoying many of the same rights and duties as citizens. These people and their families deserve to remain united.
Refugees are already the most stringently vetted group of immigrants – they are people who are fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children. These Washingtonians contribute to our workforce and economy. We reject efforts to divide Washingtonians and Americans based on religion or national origin.
Excluding these workers, businesspersons, students, scientists, legal permanent residents, tourists and family members serves no productive purpose for our state. The harmful effects of this order outweigh any illusory benefits.
It was not so long ago that John F. Kennedy, under attack for his Catholic beliefs, said, “I believe in an America…where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” That America must not be cast aside in the name of security.
We encourage you to defend our nation and values against the actions of those specific individuals who attack our democracy and coveted freedoms. We call on you to comply with federal court orders addressing this issue. Excluding valued members of society puts all Americans’ safety and prosperity at risk.