From Seattle Times: Burien is about to become a so-called sanctuary city — joining Seattle and King County — after the City Council voted narrowly late Monday to bar city employees from asking for documentation of a person’s immigration status.
The ordinance passed on a 3-2 vote, after Burien Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar left the meeting at 10 p.m., without voting. Councilmember Nancy Tosta, who supported the sanctuary city ordinance, said that Krakowiak frequently leaves meetings at 10 p.m., after they’ve gone on for three hours. Krakowiak and Edgar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The scope of the change is limited because Burien does not have its own police department. The city relies on the King County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement, and that agency has long had policies restricting deputies from holding people strictly based on their immigration status. King County has also, since 2009, barred employees from asking about a person’s immigration status.
Olympia passed a similar resolution, declaring itself a sanctuary city, last week.
There is no set definition of what it means to be a sanctuary city, but Burien’s ordinance is broadly similar to the county’s, and is meant to limit local officials from enforcing federal immigration laws.
“We recognized the concern and fear that many people in our community are feeling within the current political climate, and we had letters come in expressing a desire for the council to take an action,” Tosta said. “Several of us believed it was important to make a statement to our community showing our values as a council.”
Burien’s ordinance says that civil immigration enforcement has traditionally been a federal responsibility and that shifting the onus to local agencies drains their limited resources. Part of the city’s goal, it says, is to foster trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
Debates over sanctuary cities have intensified since the election of Donald Trump in November. Trump has vowed to take federal funding from cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. But many urban centers, Seattle included, have doubled down, reaffirming that local law enforcement will not ask about someone’s immigration status, except in rare scenarios.
“We have a new administration coming in who has directly targeted numerous groups of people,” Burien Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said, of the president-elect. Berkowitz had proposed a more expansive resolution, modeled on the law in San Francisco, but that was defeated 4-1.
Katie Hiedeman, a Burien resident who pushed for the sanctuary city ordinance, said that about 30 people spoke at the meeting in favor of it, with only a few opposed, before the vote, which happened after 10:30 p.m.
She wanted the ordinance passed for practical reasons — so that people, perhaps concerned about their immigration status, won’t be afraid to talk to police if they’re a victim or witness to a crime — and as a show of support. “These people have been in our community for maybe decades,” Hiedeman said. “Their children go to our schools, they go to the stores we shop in, they’re at the parks, they’re on our kids’ soccer teams, they are ingrained in our communities.”