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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways letter opposes deportations due to traffic violations

Traffic enforcement is often cited as one of a community’s strategies for achieving Vision Zero. But a traffic violation should not lead to someone being deported.

That’s the message of a letter signed by a coalition of groups working with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. This doesn’t mean the city should give up on Vision Zero, of course. It means the city should focus on other tactics, like designing safer streets and using automated enforcement. Seattle Bike Blog agrees.

Here’s the full text:

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The undersigned members of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition release the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement on 2/21/17 that a forthcoming executive order may expand deportable offenses to include traffic violations.

Advocates for safe streets have tired of hearing the trivialization of traffic violence as “just a traffic violation” or “no more important than a speeding ticket.” Traffic violations can lead to death and serious injury, especially for vulnerable users of our streets. People walking and biking are frequently the victims of such injuries, and seniors, children, and people with disabilities are disproportionately at risk.

However, as one of the coalition of groups that make up Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we forcefully reject the Trump administration’s plan to pursue deportation for undocumented immigrants who have committed minor traffic offenses. Individuals in low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately killed and injured by traffic violence on our streets. Now, the primary victims of this violence may also be unfairly targeted by biased and punitive enforcement.

We refuse to allow Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to eliminate all serious and fatal traffic injuries by 2030 — to be perverted into an excuse to round up and deport our undocumented neighbors and friends, just as we have previously denounced racial profiling committed in the name of traffic safety.

The undersigned seek to work with, not against, the very communities now under attack by the xenophobic and racist policies of the federal government. We declare unequivocally that Vision Zero must not be used as a cover for raids, racial profiling, or other unjust attacks on our fellow Seattleites.

We support the following actions to address traffic violations while minimizing biased enforcement:

  1. Focus on engineering.  Enforcement is not at the core of Vision Zero.  Engineering is at the core.  Understanding which street designs kill people and which street designs don’t is at the core of Vision Zero.  The safest traffic stop is the one that never happens.
  2. Explore restorative justice options for traffic violations. For example, people speeding in school zones in Finland have a choice to pay a substantial fine, or to appear at the school to explain their actions before a panel of school children.
  3. Continue to provide more transportation choices.  Traffic stops don’t happen on a bus, in a protected bike lane, or on a sidewalk (except in rare cases).  When we make driving the only practical choice, we expose vulnerable people to unnecessary risk.
  4. Rely primarily on speed cameras near schools to enforce traffic violations.  Speed cameras don’t require a traffic stop to do their job, they are always on (so they enforce less selectively), and they issue citations based on objective criteria rather than the judgment of an officer.  Cameras should be distributed equitably across the city.

Member groups of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition (listed below)

  • Beacon Hill Safe Streets
  • Central Seattle Greenways
  • Duwamish Valley Safe Streets
  • Licton Haller Greenways
  • Maple Leaf Greenways
  • Pinehurst Greenways
  • Queen Anne Greenways
  • Rainier Valley Greenways
  • Wallingford Greenways
  • West Seattle Bike Connections

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9 responses to “Seattle Neighborhood Greenways letter opposes deportations due to traffic violations”

  1. Steven Lorenza

    Sigh. For so many reasons.

  2. Dave

    How about a white-driver quota for police? Lean hard on the (in my neighborhood) Ridgefield and West Linn techies and realtors in their Audi A7’s who need the iPhone surgically removed. Let the blue proletariat beat up their quota of native-born parasite class overprivileged reckless drivers.

    1. Law Abider

      How about instead of pushing racial quotas either way, we just encourage SPD to provide more traffic enforcement across the entire city…full stop.

  3. Jort Sandwich

    So, let’s not stop at the school zones, let’s put the speeding cameras everywhere in Seattle.

    It’s against the law to speed, no matter where you’re speeding. Put the cameras on every corner and automate the enforcement 100%.

  4. Dave

    Speaking of school zone safety, how about cell phone user stings by police? In the school district I live in that would be about 75% of parents dropping children off.

    1. Ryan Packer

      After July 23 this will be easier.

  5. Erik

    If someone is here illegally and they have a traffic violation, the REASON isn’t the traffic stop it’s the fact they are not here legally. Quit with the doublespeak. Why would someone expect to be able to stay here when they don’t have a legal right to?

    1. A lot of undocumented people were brought here as children and didn’t choose their situation; deporting them to countries they don’t even remember living in is terrible “solution” for everyone. But current Federal laws and policies are emphasizing this, essentially making these people pawns as they try to scare other people into compliance (to whatever extent current laws aren’t a simple matter of gridlock and current policies a simple matter of animus).

      Even for people that have intentionally overstayed visas… there are enough people in this situation that deporting them all would be inhumane, impractical, and very disruptive. Putting all these people in total fear of any interaction with police or local officials empowers organized crime and makes us all less safe.

  6. Greg

    I understand (and happened to support) the sentiment of being practical on the question of immigration (getting rid of all the undocumented isn’t going to happen, so you have to figure out how to make the population we have now work out), but wonder how practical the abandonment of traffic enforcement (which when you think about it is what they’re really requesting in the short run at least) really is? Would be nice to know how much of the disincentive to bad driving the limited level of enforcement we have now is before giving up on the idea of enforcing traffic laws at all.

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