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Pullman City Council urged to act against immigration bans

By Chelsea Embree Lewiston Tribune

PULLMAN – The city council chambers were packed to standing room only Tuesday night as two community members spoke against immigration bans issued by President Donald Trump.

The two urged action from the Pullman City Council regarding the orders, which ban travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and suspend refugee admissions. No action was taken on the public comment items, but the council discussed immigration later Tuesday as part of a list of priorities for local state representatives to consider.

Keyla Palominos, who described herself as an “undocumented” student at Washington State University, said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy signed by President Barack Obama protects her from deportation and makes her eligible to work in the United States. That could be taken away with one signature by Trump, she said. And while Trump’s immigration order doesn’t affect her directly, she felt compelled to speak out against it.

“There are steps the city of Pullman can take to protect immigrant communities,” Palominos said. “The first step is to ensure the local law enforcement does not cooperate with federal immigration services.”

Palominos also asked the council to “stand in solidarity” with the Muslim community and oppose a faith-based registry.

Though the council does not take action on public comments, Mayor Glenn Johnson said Pullman has a “safe” and “very diverse” community.

“This is a community that we want to support our residents,” he said.

Eric Fejeran, chairman of the Whitman County Democrats, asked the council to designate Pullman as a sanctuary city.

“Issue and broadly publicize a statement welcoming all from around the world to come and live in our beautiful, welcoming city,” he suggested to the council.

Councilor Nathan Weller noted that he and Johnson have spoken at the Pullman Islamic Center, and that they take related issues “extremely seriously.”

“It’s encouraging to see so many people coming in solidarity and support,” Weller said.

Later Tuesday, Weller suggested to the council that immigration issues be considered for the city’s list of priorities for state legislators.

“This is going to affect our community,” Weller said. “I know several Sudanese researchers up at WSU. This is something that is extremely important for us to continue to look at.”

Johnson said after Tuesday’s meeting that the federal legislative committee of the Association of Washington Cities, of which he is a member, later this week will discuss a broader policy request to promote diversity in Washington cities. The proposal includes a call to respect the perspectives and beliefs of all Washington citizens.

Immigration will be one of many items included on the draft list of legislative priorities that the council will vote to adopt as early as next week.

In other business Tuesday:

The council unanimously approved a training program for Pullman police to use Narcan in instances of opioid overdoses. The drug can be administered nasally and causes no harm when taken, unlike other opioid blockers like fentanyl, said Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins.

Narcan has been used more frequently in response to nationwide increases in opioid-related deaths, Jenkins said, adding that two such deaths occurred in Pullman last fall. WSU student Alex Callaway, 27, died in October from an overdose of opioids and alprazolam, a sedative. And officials are awaiting toxicology results for a suspected fentanyl overdose, Jenkins said.

Regional representatives from Avista presented a report on the ongoing project to replace Pullman streetlights with LED lights.

In every town affected by the project, “there’s been some customer feedback, positive and negative,” said Landen Grant, project manager for Avista. He encouraged residents to contact Avista with any concerns, noting the company can check the installation of the new lights and install fixtures that help dim the light.

The LED lights, which use as much as 50 percent less energy and last longer than standard bulbs, could save Pullman as much as $100,000 on its lighting bill, said Public Works Director Kevin Gardes.

The Avista project has extended to Moscow and has been met with more mixed feedback there, said Les Macdonald, director of Moscow’s public works department. Macdonald said the city is in discussions with the company about possible alternatives, but noted no decisions have been made.

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Embree may be contacted at cembree@lmtribune.com or (208) 669-1298. Follow her on Twitter @chelseaembree.

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)2017 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)

Visit the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho) at www.lmtribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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