By Jack Mayne

Nothing in the recently passed Burien ordinance making the city an immigration sanctuary will run afoul of the recent order from President Trump regarding the punishment of sanctuary cities.

Simply put, nothing in Ordinance 651 (download PDF here) is in conflict with the President’s Executive Order, Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall said in a news release Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26.

Marshall says the city ordinance says that city police and city officials “will not inquire into a person’s immigration status, nor would local government officials have a reason to.”

The city attorney reiterates what was said at the recent Council meeting where the ordinance was approved.

“Nothing in Ordinance 651 restricts or impedes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from doing their jobs in Burien,” Marshall wrote.

“Burien officials, however, will not undertake a separate investigation into immigration matters. Such matters have nothing to do with the provision of local services, such as the issuance of business licenses or land use permits.”

Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta said the city knows public safety is a major issue for Burien residents.

“The confidence all members of our community have in dealing with our police force and city officials is an important aspect of ensuring that safety,” Tosta said. “A diverse, united community will help keep us all safe.”

The Burien ordinance requires Burien city staff and law enforcement personnel to not inquire about immigration status and is similar to what other cities and counties are calling a “sanctuary city” ordinance.

The city’s news release on Thursday said the goal of the ordinance is to send a strong message to our community that public safety is the primary concern, and “that it is safe for all our residents to contact law enforcement to report a crime. The policy does not allow or encourage undocumented individuals to commit crimes without punishment.”

The ordinance ensures that local police and city staff can focus on their jobs, “instead of handling immigration matters best left to federal immigration officers.”

On Jan. 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which states in pertinent part:

Federal law says local officials may not prohibit the “sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

The King County Sherriff’s Office’s has a long-standing policy of not inquiring into a person’s immigration status and city officials say the local ordinance “is intended to send a message that local officials will do their jobs and leave the job of the federal government to federal officials.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said on the PBS Newshour Thursday evening that sanctuary cities cannot keep violating federal laws to protect illegals. The City of Burien has stressed and statutes verify that the sanctuary designation does not permit or condone violation of any federal law. It merely says local officials and local police will not move in to enforce federal laws, that the enforcement of federal violations will be up to federal law enforcement agents but Burien Police will assist them if asked or required.

Here’s the full text of Burien’s Ordinance 651:


ORDINANCE NO. 651 ______________________________________________________________________________


WHEREAS, the City of Burien wishes to adopt an ordinance declaring the City of Burien a sanctuary city;


Section 1. Chapter Created. There is hereby created a Chapter 2.26 of the Burien Municipal Code entitled “Immigration Inquiries Prohibited” which shall read as follows:

Section 2.26.010 Findings. The City of Burien is a code city organized under RCW 35.02 and Article 11 Section 10 of the Washington State Constitution. Under its police powers, the City may exercise any power and perform any function, unless preempted by state or federal law, relating to its government and affairs, including the power to regulate for the protection and rights of its inhabitants. To this end, the City is dedicated to providing all of its residents fair and equal access to services, opportunities and protection. While precise figures are difficult to quantify, a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center report estimated that between one hundred forty thousand and two hundred ten thousand undocumented immigrants live in Washington state. Ensuring that all of the City’s residents have access to necessary services and benefits is essential for upholding the City’s commitment to fair and equal access for all residents.

The enforcement of civil immigration laws have historically been a federal government responsibility through the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Since 2002, matters of immigration law have been handled by the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Requiring local law enforcement agencies, which are not specifically equipped or trained, to enforce civil immigration laws forces local governments to expend their limited resources to perform traditionally federal functions.

A goal of this legislation is to foster trust and cooperation between law enforcement officials and immigrant communities to heighten crime prevention and public safety.

Since 1992, the King County sheriff’s office has embraced this goal and outlined Burien contracts pursuant to RCW 39.34 and BMC 8.05.010 shall not condition the provision of health benefits, opportunities or services on matters related to citizenship or immigration status. The Seattle-King County supporting policies in its operations manual, with which this ordinance is consistent.

Another goal of this legislation is to promote the public health of City of Burien residents.

On April 22, 2008, King County Superior Court affirmed the principle that our courts must remain open and accessible for all individuals and families to resolve disputes on the merits by adopting a policy that warrants for the arrest of individuals based on their immigration status shall not be executed within any of the superior court courtrooms unless directly ordered by the presiding judicial officer and shall be discouraged in the superior court courthouses, unless the public’s safety is at immediate risk. Shortly after the affirmation’s adoption, the King County Executive and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed to honor this policy.

This ordinance is intended to be consistent with federal laws regarding communications between local jurisdictions and federal immigration authorities, including but not limited to United States Code Title 8, Section 1373.

Section 2.26.020 Prohibition. Except as provided in this section or when otherwise required by law, a City office, department, employee, agency or agent shall not condition the provision of City services on the citizenship or immigration status of any individual.

  1. Nothing in this ordinance shall be construed to prohibit any City of Burien officer or employee from participating in cross-designation or task force activities with federal law enforcement authorities.
  2. The City of Burien personnel shall not request specific documents relating to a person’s civil immigration status for the sole purpose of determining whether the individual has violated federal civil immigration laws. The documents include but are not limited to: passports; alien registration cards; or work permits.
  3. The City of Burien personnel may use documents relating to a person’s civil immigration status if the documents are offered by the person upon a general, nonspecific request.
  4. The City of Burien personnel shall not initiate any inquiry or enforcement action based solely on a person’s:
    a. civil immigration status;
    b. race;c. inability to speak English; or
    d. inability to understand the deputy.
  5. The Seattle-King County department of public health, with which the City of Burien contracts pursuant to RCW 39.34 and BMC 8.05.010 shall not condition the provision of health benefits, opportunities or services on matters related to citizenship or immigration status. The Seattle-King County department of public health may inquire about or disclose information relating to an individual’s citizenship or immigration status for the purpose of determining eligibility for benefits or seeking reimbursement from federal, state or other third-party payers.

F. Except when otherwise required by law, where the City accepts presentation of a state-issued driver’s license or identification card as adequate evidence of identity, presentation of a photo identity document issued by the person’s nation of origin, such as a driver’s license, passport or matricula consular, which is a consulate-issued document, shall be accepted and shall not subject the person to a higher level of scrutiny or different treatment than if the person had provided a Washington state driver’s license or identification card. However, a request for translation of such a document to English shall not be deemed a violation of any provision of this ordinance and any subsequent ordinance. This provision does not apply to documentation required to complete a federal 1-9 employment eligibility verification form.

G. This section does not create or form the basis for liability on the part of the City, its officers, employees or agents.

H. Unless permitted by this ordinance or otherwise required by state or federal law or international treaty, all applications, questionnaires and interview forms used in relation to the provision of City benefits, opportunities or services shall be promptly reviewed by each agency, and any question requiring disclosure of information related to citizenship or immigration status shall be, in the agency’s best judgment, either deleted in its entirety or revised such that the disclosure is no longer required.

Section 3. Severability. Should any section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance, or its application to any person or circumstance, be declared unconstitutional or otherwise invalid for any reason, or should any portion of this Ordinance be pre-empted by state or federal law or regulation, such decision or pre-emption shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Ordinance or its application to other persons or circumstances.

Section 4. Effective Date. This ordinance shall be published in the official newspaper of the City, and shall take effect and be in full force five (5) days after publication.



______________________________ Lucy Krakowiak, Mayor


______________________________ Monica Lusk, City Clerk

Approved as to form:

______________________________ Lisa Marshall, City Attorney

Filed with the City Clerk: Passed by the City Council: Ordinance No.:
Date of Publication:

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

24 replies on “Trump sanctuary cities order has no effect on Burien ordinance, city attorney says”

      1. reLee – how would you feel about a town nullifying a different federal law ? Such as endangered species, gay marriage, etc. Would you be for the town deciding on its own which federal laws to obey and which to disregard?

  1. The cost of renting in Burien will go down when all those apartments North of 144th go empty over the next four years. Alturas will be a ghost town along with most of what’s North of there. Just think of all the senior housing that will become available and for who actually deserve it.

    1. Or the rent will continue to rise now that Jeff Bezos’ see all the vacancies just a short commute from the Google campus. I wouldn’t rush to decide who does or does not deserve housing, you may find someone else waiting to make that call against you.

    2. Why would Altura become empty? Even if Burien is not a sanctuary city, that does not mean automatic deportation of illegals who basically obey the law (other than the immigration law). Or am I missing something?

      1. Immigration law is still the law, and not to be broken or ignored much like theft or murder for that matter.

        1. Murder, torture and any number of other atrocities are just what many refugees are fleeing from in their home countries. With uncertainty of how they will be treated, they can be reluctant to approach officials on how to apply for citizenship. When we speak of illegals all the time as all being Mexicans connected to gangs, drugs, and the like, we do the people who have a great fear of being sent back to countries where there is great unrest and terror, the most heartless wrong. Most immigrants want to be a normal working person in a safe place. This is not just being a Pollyanna. This is my experience in knowing such people.

          1. I support lawful and earned citizenship, I do not support the disregard of laws in place to legally enter another sovereign nation. There are programs, policies and assistance available to enter and stay in the USA, I believe they should be followed is my position on the matter. Laws make a civilized society so we are all are treated equally and chaos does not reign. How can that reasonable position be argued against by a rational thinker who loves democracy?

        2. I see your point, but should we not draw a distinction between those who were brought here as children (and therefore are illegally here) but do not break additional laws, and those who are here illegally who do break additional laws (such as DWI, shooting people, etc.) ?

        3. Q A
          Desperate refugees forced from their home who sneak into this country trying to find work to support their families you equate with murderers. You sound like Trump.
          And I suppose when you drive to Portland you never exceed the speed limit and become a law breaker like those murderers.

          1. That’s quite a stretch to say all illegals equate to murderer’s, and in addition last time I watched the news Mexico was not run by a dictator and therefore your insistence they are refugees is quite the exaggeration.

          2. Q A
            I agree it is a stretch. You did the stretching saying “Immigration law…much like theft or murder…”
            In too much of Mexico (and other Latin countries) the army and police are corrupt and the citizens are terrorized by cartels. Seeking refuge from that would make them refugees.

          3. Out of 758,400 square miles in Mexico there’s not a safe region to move to? Head North all you want but be honest about your intentions and follow the law, not doing so sets a bad example as you illegally jump the border.

    3. Sounds like some of you didn’t actually read the post. The only thing the so-called Sanctuary City status means for Burien is that our police will not be doing the Feds job for them.

      1. It’s a sad state of affairs when law enforcement doesn’t combine resources for the good of law and order. What’s next, the police can’t give me a ticket in Oregon because I live in Washington?

          1. Oh I can see it now! QA for President! Sorry I can’t show you my tax return, it’s being audited! 🙂

  2. If you come to this country and are working to become a citizen, we want you here and will be glad to help. If you come to this country and do nothing GO HOME.

  3. Now if we can work on who is shooting up Burien every week..And I mean every week! Some of the property shoots don’t even get posted..Place is just plain nasty…After dark it’s Dodge City..

  4. I am much more concerned about the druggies that have taken over Burien. I was in the area between the old library and the skate park/community center last night from 5:30-6pm and saw groups of homeless/drug addicts (not sure because several had cell phones?) people who were visibly high on something. There were open exchanges going on. One woman came running up to the car next to me, jumped on the hood and rolled off onto the ground. This was in the parking lot at the community center! There are kids taking theater classes inside that building, surrounded by drug addicts right outside the doors. They loiter in the breezeway between the buildings. Why is this allowed? They try to get in the building to use the bathroom, so the doors have to be locked at all times. Being down on your luck and homeless is very different from being a drug addict who will do anything for their next fix. Shameful. This is a much bigger issue for Burien than being a sanctuary city IMO

  5. I find the entire mess going on now with immigration absolutely ridiculous. If government in the last 30-40 years had the nerve to develop and maintain a rational and enforceable immigration policy like all other civilized nations, this would NOT be occurring now. Trump happens to be the “man of the hour” because he’s the only person seen as brave enough to tackle this mess. Granted, the new measures could have been instituted more graciously, BUT AT LEAST SOMETHING IS FINALLY BEING DONE.
    Clearly, our nation needs immigration reform. Anytime a person is allowed entry for whatever reason, the US has no system in place to figure out if they over-stayed their Visa for example or left to return home as promised. How lame is that?
    I’m sure ALL of us in the US want undocumented people who commit crimes out of here. I’m sure all of us prefer not supporting undocumented people in our country who don’t work/contribute to our society but have no issue using our education and healthcare systems with a sense of entitlement . Read up on the numbers. Undocumented persons use proportionally more of our social services than citizens of the same age.
    I am not a mean, uncaring human being as most of you think. I am simply a rational citizen who sees the writing on the wall. What has been occurring for the last several decades is not sustainable. We are not a country with unlimited resources. The negligence in dealing with our immigration issues has made the present situation much worse than it should be.
    And don’t get me going regarding all the protesters—follow the money. Who has a stake in preserving the status quo? Guess who’s leading the protest as I write at SeaTac airport? My favorite socialist Kharma Sawant!!

Comments are closed.