Burien Council may vote on ‘Sanctuary City’ status, CARES Monday night; Quiet Skies Coalition seeking support

« Back to Events
This event has passed.
Burien Council may vote on ‘Sanctuary City’ status, CARES Monday night; Quiet Skies Coalition seeking support
December 19, 2016 7:00 pm
December 19, 2016 10:00 pm
December 15, 2016
Burien City Hall
Google Map
400 SW 152nd Street, Burien, WA, 98166, United States

The Burien City Council may vote on whether to declare Burien a ‘sanctuary city’, as well as whether to extend the contract with CARES Animal Control or revert to King County at its upcoming Monday night meeting on Dec. 19.

Download the agenda/packet here (PDF file).

Recently, Highline Public Schools issued a ‘Statement of Support‘ about the ‘sanctuary’ status, and the City of Olympia’s council earlier this week voted unanimously to declare itself a ‘sanctuary’ (read more here).

Also, the Quiet Skies Coalition is requesting attendance from residents concerned about airport noise (read more here).

Here’s Burien’s proposed sanctuary city ordinance (on p. 119 of the packet):

Here’s some background info presented by City Attorney Lisa Marshall (starts on p. 121 of the packet):

At its regular meeting on December 5, 2016, the City Council directed the City Attorney to present approximately five sample sanctuary city ordinances or resolutions for the Council’s consideration. This memorandum addresses the background and legal framework surrounding sanctuary cities, as well as provides several sample documents for discussion by the Council at its December 19, 2016 regular meeting.

I. Sanctuary Cities – Background and Legal Framework
What is a sanctuary? While there is no official definition of sanctuary city, the term has generally been accepted to mean that local law enforcement and municipalities will not alert federal authorities about people in their cities who lack legal status, nor will municipalities actively seek out such individuals. There are reportedly 300 sanctuary cities in the U.S.

Why are cities becoming sanctuary cities? Cities are declaring themselves sanctuary cities for the following reasons: first, it is not the job of local law enforcement to regulate and enforce immigration laws; it is the job of the federal government. Second, the federal government’s practice of issuing immigration detainers without probable cause has been declared by federal courts to be unconstitutional. Third, local law enforcement o icers want to encourage the reporting of crime by victims and witnesses. Inquiring into a person’s immigration status would result in a decrease of such reporting. Finally, local communities wish to provide se ices to all citizens without inquiring into or conditioning such services on immigration status.

Notably, cities declaring themselves sanctuary cities typically have their own police departments and most sanctuary city policies are aimed at law enforcement. Here,the King County Sheriffs Office (KCSO) with which the City of Burien contracts for police services has, since 1992, followed a policy of not inquiring into a person’s immigration status. The Council’s discussion is whether to reemphasize this policy with respect to law enforcement and whether to extend the policy to City employees and contractors.

What are immigration detalners? Are they legal? Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the federal agency responsible for deportation of individuals who are not in the country legally. As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), every person booked in a city or county jail has their fingerprints run through an FBI and ICE database. Accordingly, ICE has immediate access to the location of undocumented individuals throughout the country. As early as 2008, ICE has been requesting that local law enforcement and jails hold undocumented inmates beyond their release dates in order to give time to the agency to send representatives to take such individuals into federal custody. The legal conundrum presented by holding a person past his release date is not minimized when the request (“detainer request”) comes from the federal government; holding someone without a court order (and without probable cause) is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

So far, federal courts have agreed with local jails and law enforcement, 3 and have denominated federal immigration detainers that lack probable cause as “requests” with which local jails and law enforcement need not comply. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s (ILRC) detainer map, 5 states, 514 counties, and 38 cities are refusing to comply with immigration detainers.

Can the President withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities? Probably not. Two principles of federalism preclude the withholding of federal funds in order to coerce states (and therefore cities) to comply with the federal government’s wishes. The first principle holds that the federal government cannot unduly coerce state action by leveling a financial “gun to the head,”4 and the second principle holds that federal o icials cannot “commandeer” state officials to do the work of the federal government.

The first principle is articulated in Chief Justice Roberts’ landmark opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius, Id. In that case, Roberts struck down the Medicaid extension of the Affordable Care Act because the Act greatly expanded Medicaid to millions of additional patients. Roberts reasoned that under the Spending Clause, a “contractual” relationship exists between the states and the federal government, which prevents the federal government from altering the “terms” of an agreement (e.g. expanding Medicaid to millions of additional patients) then threatening to yank funding for failing to comply with such revised terms. He reasoned that Congress cannot create a funding condition that is unrelated to its original funding purpose and that is so coercive that it amounts to a “gun to the head” of the states. Existing federal funding for cities is not connected to immigration. It is less connected than existing Medicaid funding was to the ACA Medicaid extension. The only case in which the Supreme Cou allowed conditional funding was the federal government’s threat to take away 5 percent of highway money if states didn’t raise the drinking age to 21. 6 Accordingly, it is unimaginable that federal funding of any kind could be withheld for a city becoming a sanctuary city.

The second principle, the “anti-commandeering” principal, was articulated by Justice Antonin Scalia in 1997 in Printz v. U.S. The Printz decision struck down provisions of the Brady Act that required state and local law enforcement officials to do background checks of firearm purchases. Scalia concluded that Congress cannot force state officials into service to execute federal laws. Requiring state (and city) officials to enforce federal immigration laws is no different from requiring them to enforce firearm purchase regulations.

II. Sanctuary Policies – Local Examples
Items 1-F below explain existing policies, resolutions, and ordinances from other jurisdictions. The policies, or sample policies themselves, are labeled Exhibits A-F and follow Section II.

  1. Exhibit A: “Sanctuary” policy currently in place: Exhibit A is a Fact Sheet containing the Don’t Ask policy of the King County Sheriffs Office (KCSO). KCSO officers and employees currently follow a policy of not inquiring into a person’s immigration status, and they refrain from asking questions intended to illicit a response concerning such immigration status. This policy has been in place since 1992. The policy is followed by all City of Burien police o icers, who are KCSO employees. Under the City’s interlocal agreement with the KCSO, the KCSO indemnifies and defends the City of Burien for actions against the City of Burien Police Department and its police officers when the officers are following KCSO policies and procedures. Requiring Burien o icers to deviate in any way from KCSO policies-including but not limited to pursuit policies, use of force policies, or the Don’t Ask policy set forth in Exhibit A-would be a legal risk to the City. Accordingly, it is recommended that the City Council not adopt a policy applicable to law enforcement that deviates from or adds to the policy set fo h in Exhibit A.
  2. Exhibit B: Expanding the KCSO Don’t Ask policy to City employees, officers, and contracts. Exhibit B is a resolution which, if passed, would extend the policy currently practiced by KCSO to City employees and contractors. City employees and contracts currently do not inquire into a person’s immigration status; the City provides services to individuals without knowing of a person’s immigration status. Adoption of the resolution set forth in Exhibit B would formalize this unwritten policy.
  3. ExhibitC: Exhibit C is the Statement of Solidarity written by the Highline School District. The City Council-whether or not it wishes to declare Burien a sanctuary city-may wish to pass a motion in support of this Statement of Solidarity.
  4. Exhibit D: Exhibit D is King County’s Ordinance No. 393, adopted on 11/10/2009. It repeats the policy of the KCSO regarding inquiring into a person’s immigration status or engaging in activities to ascertain person’s status, and also extends the policy to all County employees and to the King County Department of Health. The policy also prevents the withholding of any County benefits or opportunities on the basis of a person’s immigration status. As is the case with Exhibit B, adoption of this policy would formalize the City’s unwritten policy of not inquiring into a person’s immigration status and of providing services to all citizens irrespective of legal status.
  5. Exhibit E: Exhibit E is the City of San Francisco’s Sanctuary City legislation, except the name 11Burien” has been substituted for 1’San Francisco.” Red text and brackets appear where the language is unique to San Francisco and not to Burien, but I left the text in place to allow you to review it as it appeared in the original.
  6. Exhibit F: Exhibit F is the City of Seattle’s sanctuary city policy. Please note that the language in Section l(B) of Exhibit F may authorize Seattle police officers to engage in conduct not authorized by KCSO. If the Council wishes to pursue this option, the KCSO should be consulted prior to adoption.


As we’ve previously reported, the city is currently already under the ‘sanctuary’ status of King County, since Burien Police contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Also, Senior Writer Jack Mayne shared his thoughts on a recent Podcast, which you can listen to here.

Also, if you haven’t yet taken our Poll on the ‘Sanctuary City’ proposal, please do so below:

Should the City of Burien declare itself as a 'sanctuary city'?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...