'Seattle is a welcoming city:' Mayor Murray signs Executive Order embracing immigrants

Syrian refugees enjoyed their first American Thanksgiving meal in downtown Seattle on Thursday, embracing Mayor Ed Murray's Executive Order declaring Seattle as a welcoming city to immigrants and refugees. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order on Thursday, reaffirming Seattle as a welcoming city in honor of Thanksgiving Day.

The order states that City employees will not ask about the status of residents and all city services will be available to all residents.

“Except for our native peoples, we are all from someplace else,” said an a tape video message from his office.

“Seattle has remained a welcoming city even during these difficult times when immigrants and their role in our country is under attack,” said Mayor Murray.

The order also creates an Inclusive and Equitable City Cabinet that will coordinate city efforts to protect the civil liberties and civil rights of Seattle residents.

Additionally, the City will set aside $250,000 to address the needs of unauthorized immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools and their families.

“I want to thank the people of this city for embracing everyone regardless of where they were born and making sure Seattle remains that welcomes everybody,” said the Mayor Murray.

This came as very welcome news to a group of Syrian refugees who were having their first American Thanksgiving meal at the Impact Hub in downtown Seattle.

About half a dozen families that have been designated as refugees dined on the traditional Thanksgiving fixings as well and authentic Syrian dishes.

“This is all beautiful,” a refugee named Marhal said through an interpreter. “That people come together and help each other out.”

Marhal and his family of five escaped the bombing in Homs, Syria by way of Jordan and were given refugee status.

“We felt terrorized, we felt very, very afraid and we had to leave,” said Marhal.

The meal was organized by an ad-hoc group of volunteers who wanted to show what they called Seattle’s welcoming spirit.

“I think all the people that have come out here today is a testimony to the fact that people want to say openly, 'you are alright with us, you're welcome here and we've got your back,'” said Ellin Spenser, one of the lead organizers.

“The prophet Mohamed said, ‘he who does not thank people does not thank God,'"said Hazim Mohaisem, one of the volunteers. “What you see here is human decency.”

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