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Burien voters to decide city’s ‘sanctuary city’ status

BURIEN, Wash. — A citizens’ initiative to overturn the city of Burien’s sanctuary status will now go to the voters in November. The decision came in a 6 to 1 vote by the Burien City Council on Monday night, the second meeting in a week on the issue.

Once again it was standing room only in Burien, one week after an explosive four-hour meeting left the council deadlocked over the city’s sanctuary status. It all began with a petition started by an anti-illegal immigration group called, Respect Washington.

The petition, which has garnered more than 3,600 signatures, claimed Burien’s sanctuary city policy “threatens the safety of every Burien citizen…” The council was asked to revoke Burien’s sanctuary status or give the decision to the voters. If they chose not to act, Respect Washington threatened to sue the city.

The council adjourned last week’s meeting without making a decision, opening the city up to a lawsuit. A second meeting was then announced for the following week. This week, dozens more spoke against the petition, a handful spoke in favor. Many called the petition hate speech, and called authors racists. Those who spoke in favor of the petition, said the sanctuary city status puts the city at risk of losing federal funding.

“I helped build this country, my family helped build this country, my family is in the military. Let us ask you City Council, citizens of Burien, whether you are for it or against it. Just ask yourself what community are we trying to build,” said one man speaking against the petition.

“Please for the safety, for the true safety of this community, please give the citizens the chance to reject this sanctuary misadventure so we can protect the budget of this city,” said another in favor of the petition.

Heated public comment was heard for two hours, before the council went to discuss their options, overturn the city's sanctuary status or send the proposition to the voters. Before council members were allowed to give feedback, Mayor Lucy Krakowiak moved to take a vote on the measure after another council member moved to end discussion before it had begun.

One council member called the mayor’s action “childish,” before being forced to vote. One council member abstained, all others voted in favor of the proposition going on the November 7, 2017 ballot.

After the vote, the mayor called a second recess and left the chambers. Some council members stayed behind to share their comments with the audience.

 King County Sheriff John Urquhart sent out this tweet Monday night:

Proposition 1 would overturn Ordinance No. 651, adopted by the City Council on Jan. 9, that prohibits Burien city officials, including police, from inquiring into the citizenship, immigration status or religious affiliation or to work with federal immigration authorities to arrest people solely on their immigration status.