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Burien mayor talks sanctuary city status after fatal shooting

Last month, two teens were killed in Burien. Gang violence is believed to be a factor. (KIRO 7)

In the wake of a tragic, fatal shooting that claimed the lives of two teens, Burien’s Mayor Jimmy Matta is asking all community members to help find the shooters — whether they are documented immigrants or not.

RELATED: 2 teenage girls shot, killed in Burien

“Anybody that shoots someone, or does something like that should be locked up and have the book thrown at them,” Matta told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

The shooting appears to be gang related. Residents in the area report there have been shootings every year.

Matta says some youth in the area have turned to gangs. It’s become a problem in Burien — a sanctuary city.

Critics, such as Dori, argue the sanctuary city status isn’t helping despite its aims.

In theory, people who are undocumented should feel comfortable reporting crime to police if they are in a sanctuary city. But Burien police remain searching for suspects after the recent shooting.

“What’s happened in Tukwila has come over to this area where there is this fear,” Matta said. “People are scared that if they step out there, the police department is working with immigration. We have a national immigration system that is broken, that needs to be fixed. So when one of our children is killed in our community, status is not the issue we are debating. We want to make sure these criminals are brought to justice.”

“We are not pursuing immigration law here,” he said. “What we are doing is making sure that the people who shot these two girls are brought to justice and are locked away.”

Burien sanctuary city

Matta argues that debating sanctuary city issues after such a shooting misses a bigger, more important point. The primary goal should be to find the suspects and bring them to justice. He has spoken with residents who object to Burien’s sanctuary city status. He says they agree with this sentiment.

“We are pleading to the community, regardless of our political views and perspectives on what we think should happen, that’s not the subject,” Matta said. “We need to make sure we come together and protect our community. If you see something is about to come down, call 911. If you are undocumented, call 911. We want these people brought to justice.”

“I think when we talk about immigration nationally, there are some hard sentiments on both sides,” he said. “It has just divided our communities really bad … At the end of the day, we are so lucky to live in a country that is free, that we can voice our opinions and concerns … Everybody, this is our country, it’s our cities and we got to love each other as community members and neighbors.”

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