Will Burien repeal its protections for undocumented residents?
Will Burien repeal its protections for undocumented residents? SB

In January, the seven-member Burien City Council voted to prohibit Burien city employees, including police, from asking residents about their immigration status.

Tonight, the same city council will consider repealing those protections.

Earlier this month, a group called "Respect Washington" submitted enough signatures to the city to place the "sanctuary city" repeal on the November ballot. Now, the Burien City Council has two options: Repeal ordinance 651 tonight or pass a resolution allowing it on the ballot.

Passing ordinance 651 in the first place was by no means a simple process. The City Council originally voted in favor of the ordinance last December by a slim 3-2 margin, but the City Attorney ruled the vote invalid because two of the council members—Burien mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar—left the meeting early. In order for the ordinance to pass, a majority of the council members had to vote in favor of it, the City Attorney said.

In January, the Burien City Council voted on the ordinance again, but took the term "sanctuary city" out of the ordinance itself. "Sanctuary city" is a term that encompasses a number of different policies, but usually refers to some degree of municipal protections for undocumented residents.

"For me this is primarily about public safety and the community feeling free or safe to interact with the officials that they see without fear of deportation," Burien City Council member Nancy Tosta told The Stranger at the time.

At the second vote, the measure won 4-3.

Immigrant rights groups and community members have since railed against repealing protections for undocumented Burien residents under the Trump administration's immigration crackdown.

"This ballot initiative is a mistake that, if passed, would make all Burien communities less safe," OneAmerica executive director Rich Stolz said in a statement. "Public safety demands that all communities feel safe approaching law enforcement if they are the witness to, or the victim of, a crime. By stripping Burien residents of the assurance that local police will not act as federal immigration officers, this initiative would place an undue burden on local police officers and reduce their effectiveness."

I'll be in Burien tonight, covering the vote. Watch this space for more.