Fortunato introduces updated immigration cooperation bill amid border crisis

‘We can’t afford to be a sanctuary state anymore,’ says Fortunato

Amid a national frenzy over immigration during the Trump administration, Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order that barred cooperation with federal immigration authorities for certain state agencies. Washington then became one of 11 “sanctuary states” with the passage of Senate Bill 5497 in 2019.

That same year, Washington was rocked by high-profile crimes committed by illegal aliens, including the murder of a police officer in rural Kittitas County during the 2019 legislative session and the brutal rape of a disabled woman in King County, whose assailant was released due to the state’s sanctuary policy.

After meeting with victims and federal immigration authorities, state Sen. Phil Fortunato introduced legislation in 2020 to close the dangerous loopholes in state law and pushed Inslee and King County leaders to act.

Fortunato, the son of Italian immigrants, has contended, “We can’t do anything about illegal immigration since that is a federal issue, but we can do something about illegal criminals in our jails.”

Now, he’s introduced Senate Bill 6320 that would repeal Washington’s sanctuary status and other laws that have shielded violent criminals in the state illegally, including administrative barriers at courthouses, prohibiting arrests of unauthorized migrants at court facilities, and model policies developed by the state Attorney General aimed at, “limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law…”

“The impacts of illegal immigration in our state were bad enough when Democrats pushed to make Washington a sanctuary state,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “Proponents continue to conflate the issue and try to pigeonhole anyone who is opposed to illegal immigration as anti-immigrant. It’s nonsense. With the influx of millions of new unauthorized migrants and our state’s well-known status, the reality is that we can’t afford to be a sanctuary state anymore.”

Fortunato notes that not only is Washington’s policy a public-safety problem, but the financial costs are also adding up.

“We just had reports that the state gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to illegal aliens during the COVID-19 spending spree,” Fortunato said. “There’s no accountability and that’s the problem. If violent criminals are intersecting with state courts and law enforcement, we should be doing everything we can to cooperate with federal immigration authorities to get them off our streets, not giving them taxpayer money and shielding them from deportation.”