150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle area, Pew study finds

by: Ashli Blow Updated:

An estimated 150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue – according to a list released by the Pew Research Center.

The list – released on Thursday – finds that most of the United States’ 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas.

Based on 2014 estimates, the analysis shows that unauthorized immigrants tend to live where other immigrants live. Among lawful immigrants – including naturalized citizens and noncitizens – 65 percent lived in those top metros, according to Pew.

20 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of unauthorized immigrants

President Donald Trump ordered in January cuts in federal grants for cities that offer safe harbor for undocumented immigrants.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a promise that Seattle will remain a so-called sanctuary city even at the risk of millions of dollars in federal money.

>> Related: Mayor: Seattle could lose $85 million by remaining a sanctuary city

"Sanctuary city" is a broad term. It generally refers to a city in which rule restricting state and local governments from alerting federal authorities about people who may be in the country illegally,
according to the Washington Post. In Seattle, it means there is a city law that says police and government agencies do not ask the immigration status of people seeking services.

See video of the mayor's promise below.

The city council affirmed Seattle as a “Welcoming City” by passing a resolution that fosters inclusion.  

Murray said that the city of Seattle could lose $85 million in federal funds under Trump’s planned cut. The city operates on a $5 billion budget.

“Seattle is prepared to take any legal avenues that we need to, to ensure that immigrants, regardless of their documentations, remain in the city and that the U.S. Constitution is not violated. We will not, as we did in World War II, allow our police to be deputies of the federal government and round up the immigrants in this city. We will fight any attempt by the federal government to strip federal funding in this city,” Murray said.

The mayor first vowed after the election last year that Seattle would remain a city welcome to undocumented immigrants who need sanctuary.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of the 7th District, attended the announcement.

“We have some of the best immigration rights here in the country, here in our city and our state and we know that we can win even when the struggle seems hard,”
she said.

Jayapal founded the immigration rights group OneAmerica. She said Seattle was the first city in the nation to say it would not ask the immigration status of people seeking city services.
See video of that rally below.

Since Murray’s announcements on Seattle as a sanctuary city, the president signed an executive order that barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the United States. That order has been under legal scrutiny that began with a lawsuit filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

>> Related: Federal appeals court: Seattle judge's halt on travel ban remains

The lawsuit led to a U.S. District Court Judge in Seattle temporarily blocking the travel ban nationwide. Government lawyers argued to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this week that the ban was a "lawful exercise" of the president's authority, but the appeals judges refused to reinstate the ban.