OLYMPIA, Wash. (Mar. 1, 2015) – A Washington bill that would ban the state from using resources to assist with enforcement of some federal immigration programs, effectively nullifying them, has passed two House committees.

Titled the Washington Family Unity Act, HB1716 prohibits state law or local enforcement agencies from holding any person solely on the basis of an immigration detainer, and bans them from entering into agreements to assist ICE with immigration enforcement.

HB1716 passed the House Committee on Public Safety 5-4 on Feb. 20. The bill moved on to the Committee on General Government & Information Technology where it also passed on Feb. 23. The vote total wasn’t readily available.

The bill now moves on to the House Rules Committee where it must pass before going on to the full House for consideration.

If ultimately passed, the legislation would bar state and local law enforcement in Washington from providing several modes of assistance to federal immigration enforcement. It would:

Prohibit a law enforcement agency (LEA) from detaining any person on the basis of an immigration detainer or administrative warrant after the person becomes eligible for release.

Prohibit denial of bail solely on the basis of an immigration detainer or administrative warrant.

Prohibit a LEA from assisting an immigration agent or expending state or local resources to comply with an immigration detainer, administrative warrant, or other noncriminal immigration enforcement.

Prohibit a LEA from entering into an agreement that permits the LEA to enforce federal civil immigration law.

The legislation rests on the well-established anti-commandeering doctrine. The Supreme Court has consistently held that the federal government cannot compel states to cooperate with enforcement or implementation of its programs or mandates. The findings section of HB1716 builds on this legal principle.

The legislature finds that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government. The undertaking of immigration enforcement by state and local law enforcement agencies undermines their ability to carry out their primary missions, can result in constitutional violations, and puts local jurisdictions at risk of incurring liability.

Should HB1716 pass, Washington would become the third state implement such a law, along with California and Connecticut. With state-level resistance to federal marijuana prohibition reaching historic levels, this represents an expansion of the nullification movement on the left.

“Look, we don’t believe that progressives are with us on many issues, like health care and gun control,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director said. “And conservatives often aren’t with us on issues like hemp and marijuana. But the fact is, the federal government doesn’t have the authority to compel states to do virtually anything, and people on both sides are learning to say ‘No.’”

Boldin said he considered this an educational tool for activists.

“The most successful nullification efforts in modern times, marijuana and hemp farming, have come from the left,” he said. “This happens because even when the feds push back, they continue on with what they want to do in their states anyway. The right should learn from this and take the same approach on issues important to them.”



Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


Maharrey Minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.