OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate today voted 29-20 to prohibit discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status.

Senate Bill 5165, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), adds citizenship or 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.

This type of discrimination is experienced by documented and undocumented immigrants alike, 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 various settings such as education, housing, public accommodations and employment.

“We’re hearing from communities that people are not at ease; they live in fear and sometimes are even afraid to bring their kids to school,” said Saldaña. “By clarifying our law against discrimination, we hope people will feel more secure participating fully in their communities.”

The bill will now be considered in the House of Representatives.