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Tossed immigration initiative in Spokane will get emergency appellate review

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 30, 2017, 10:07 p.m.

A last ditch effort to get an immigration ballot initiative before Spokane voters in November will be heard Thursday by an appeals court commissioner. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
A last ditch effort to get an immigration ballot initiative before Spokane voters in November will be heard Thursday by an appeals court commissioner. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

An appeals court commissioner will hear an 11th hour plea Thursday afternoon to return the “sanctuary city” initiative to the November ballot.

The Tacoma-based group Request Washington has requested an emergency stay of last week’s court order tossing the initiative, which would permit Spokane police to ask whether someone is a U.S. citizen. The deadline for a decision is Tuesday if the question is to come before voters this year; otherwise the issue will not be eligible for a hearing until 2019.

The initiative has a troubled past in Spokane, first losing its sponsor and then raising legal questions at City Hall about whether the language accompanying the ballot measure was biased. Supporters said a city law prohibiting police from asking about immigration status made Spokane a “sanctuary city,” though lawmakers have pushed back against that assertion and federal guidelines don’t appear to apply to the local policy.

Six groups, many of them serving Spokane’s immigrant and refugee population, sued earlier this summer to keep Proposition 1 from the ballot, calling it a racist policy that doesn’t comport with the city’s values.

Commissioner Monica Wasson will hear arguments via telephone Thursday at 3 p.m., her office said Wednesday morning.


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