OLYMPIA – Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to prohibit discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status into law.

Senate Bill 5165, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), will add citizenship and immigration status to the list of characteristics protected by Washington’s Law against Discrimination. The change prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status unless a distinction or differential treatment is required by a state or federal law, regulation or government contract.

Documented and undocumented immigrants alike experience this type of discrimination, including people living and working in Washington with authorization. This bill protects anyone perceived to be a noncitizen, regardless of their actual immigration status, and would help prevent discrimination in numerous settings such as education, housing, public accommodations and employment.

“People in our communities report living in fear, sometimes even afraid to take their kids to school,” said Saldaña. “We want this clarification of our law against discrimination to make people feel welcome and safe participating fully in their communities.”

Saldaña credited Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) and Rep. Christine Kilduff (D-University Place) for shepherding the bill through the House.

“Washingtonians should feel safe and welcome regardless of their citizenship status and country of origin,” said Valdez. “It’s our responsibility as lawmakers to protect anyone who is already vulnerable to discrimination simply because they may look like they don’t have legal status and come from somewhere else.”

“Washington has a proud tradition of welcoming all people to our state,” said Kilduff. “SB 5165 updates our laws by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of immigration and citizenship status.  No one in our state should be denied a job, credit, or a bus ride because of who they are or where they were born.”