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Burien forced to reconsider its sanctuary city status

The Burien City Council voted to follow in Seattle's Sanctuary City footsteps. (Michael Allen Smith, Flickr)

It came down to five signatures. Now the Burien City Council is faced with a choice: Repeal the city’s sanctuary city status, or pass the decision to voters.

The decision is forced. Respect Washington turned in enough petition signatures — King County Elections has verified them — to create Burien Initiative 1, according to the city. That initiative aims to repeal Burien’s Ordinance 651 which establishes it as a sanctuary city.

RELATED: Sheriff John Urquhart says “sanctuary city” doesn’t mean anything

Respect Washington turned in 4,953 signatures. King County verified that 3,648 were valid — the required number is 3,643.

The Burien council now has two options:

  • Adopt the ordinance proposed in the petition — an immediate repeal of the city’s sanctuary status.
  • Submit a measure to the county elections office to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot. Burien voters will then decide for themselves if the city stays a sanctuary.

If the city council wants to place the measure on the ballot, it has to act quickly — the deadline is Aug. 1. The council is holding a special meeting before then to vote on the matter.

Burien is one of many jurisdictions in Washington with the title of “sanctuary.” King County is a sanctuary county, for example. So are Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties.

Seattle is also a sanctuary city. Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Seattle has doubled down on its sanctuary city status. It is also suing the federal government over one of the president’s executive orders. That order targets sanctuary cities, threatening to remove federal funding.

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