Seattle pays to house illegal immigrants in hotels in other Washington cities

Feb 7, 2024 | Political News

The City of Seattle has agreed to pay for another three weeks of rooms for illegal immigrants staying at a Western Washington hotel, even though the location is not in the city limits.

Last month, after the illegal immigrants from Venezuela protested outside of Seattle City Hall during a city council meeting demanding housing, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell paid for a week of hotel rooms for the group.

The office of the Mayor of Seattle told the Discovery Institute’s Jonathan Choe in a statement, “To address this immediate humanitarian need, the city of Seattle will pay for a temporary stay of three additional weeks (check out February 26) at a hotel in response to the homeless migrants that requested assistance in Seattle.”

The statement did not specify which hotel, but until now the illegal immigrants have been staying at the Quality Inn in Kent, Washington.

Jamie Housen, director of communications for the mayor, added, “We expect to fund this through dollars allocated in this year's budget for migrant issues (OIRA-802-A).”

He added, “Today we are closely following the Washington state legislative session where Governor Inslee has proposed spending 8 million toward this issue. Given that this is a regional, state, and national issue we are looking to our King County, Washington state, and federal partners to develop and support sustainable long-term solutions given that city resources for this response will be quickly exhausted.”

“The city of Seattle is committed to helping migrant families and individuals connect with the regional state and federal resources and supports to assist them in navigating the asylum process and finding housing resources, and our office of immigrant and refugee affairs is partnering with community groups serving migrants as part of that effort.”

The bill for the rooms was supposed to be paid by a non-profit, but the hotel’s general manager told KOMO News that payment was never made.

The hotel owners told Choe that the mayor committed to 60 rooms at $100 per night for a week, which would total $42,000. An additional three weeks could cost the city another $126,000, even as the city faces an almost quarter-billion dollar budget deficit. This deficit caused the mayor to implement a hiring freeze last month as city programs are expected to be cut.

The move sparked concern that more illegal immigrants from other cities would come to Seattle to make similar demands.

According to Choe, this current group of illegal migrants has bounced around from Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila to various motels in the region before making a plea for help from Seattle.

Director of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Hamdi Mohamed, advocated for housing for the illegals at the council meeting saying, “The city heard the need of the community of asylum seekers who were in really desperate circumstances, and the city decided to provide emergency shelter. The mayor is working right now in conversation with the governor’s office and the county executive’s office to join us in supporting this emergency funding and work toward a more sustainable solution.”

Mohamed added that the city and state are counting on the federal government to bail them out. “I'm hoping that we will have more of a sustainable solution, and of course, we can't do that without our federal partners, as well, so we'll continue to engage with them, too.”

Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales said during the meeting that she wants to find emergency shelters in Seattle and work for the illegal immigrants, but had no updates to share when KOMO News followed up with her about the logistics, given that there is not enough housing for the homeless in the Emerald City.

According to Washington’s Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, there have been 993 applications for service since Oct. The majority of those were in King County.

369 of the migrants are from Ukraine, 166 are from Afghanistan and 69 are from Syria.