Against the onslaught of rowdy xenophobia in the form of executive orders, one city has risen to meet the Trump administration and other regressive forces head on.
On Jan. 1, Seattle became the first major city to map out a serious effort toward a $15 minimum wage. Employees at the city’s largest businesses — about 70,000 low-wage workers — saw their wages increase to $15 per hour. Seattle hopes to reach a $15 minimum wage for all workers by 2021. (North Carolina’s minimum wage is $7.25, less than half of Seattle’s goal.)
Next, on Jan. 30, the Seattle City Council adopted a resolution affirming Seattle as a “welcoming city.” The resolution states that the city would reject a federal government agreement requesting Seattle police officers partake in immigration enforcement. The city vows to serve all its residents, regardless of immigration status. (About a year from the end of his term as governor, Pat McCrory signed into law HB 318, which prohibits NC counties or cities from limiting cooperation between the local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.)
On Feb. 1, the finance committee of the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo, a leading lender for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The vote followed Trump’s order to the US Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (The proposed construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would threaten the lands and even the lives of people in eight counties across eastern North Carolina.)
Most recently, on Feb. 3, a federal judge in Seattle ordered a national block on enforcement of Trump’s executive order that bans travel to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries. (According to the Charlotte Observer, US Reps. Robert Pittenger, George Holding and Richard Hudson — all North Carolina Republicans — offered complete support for stopping refugees and other immigrants from countries allegedly considered to be high-risk for terrorism.)
Seattle shows us that individual cities can authorize change in the face of bullying federal legislation and independent of state policy.