In just a few days, Burien city councilmembers will weigh in on a petition that seeks to repeal their sanctuary city ordinance.
The special meeting set for Monday evening is in response to this controversial petition that claims the sanctuary city policy threatens the safety of Burien citizens.
The policy prevents city officials from asking someone about their immigration status
Craig Keller and a group called Respect Washington spearheaded the petition effort, and collected the 3,643 signatures needed to move it forward.
As a result, city council must take one of the following actions at Monday's meeting: do away with the sanctuary city policy as the petition asks, or pass a resolution that would put the issue on the November ballot for a city-wide vote.
"They have two choices next Monday night, July 31," said Keller, who said Respect Washington will file a lawsuit if the city fails to take action.
So why is Keller opposed to Burien being a sanctuary city?
"Because it's a protection racket for illegal activity, and as a law-abiding citizen and someone who wants a safe community and doesn't want criminal elements influencing our police force, I can't stand it," he said.
But Keller isn't actually a Burien resident. He lives in West Seattle.
That's not sitting well with supporters of the sanctuary city policy, who say they plan to show up in large numbers for Monday night's meeting at city hall.
"The sanctuary ordinance that we pushed to get in this city is a result of wanting to have an inclusive community. And so the group that's coming in that's not from our community, it's really troubling to see that they're using the national rhetoric at a local level to create divisiveness among all of us. That's the last thing we need as a community," said Pedro Olguin.
Olguin is part of a group called Burien Represent that's working to fight the repeal effort. He's also running for Burien City Council.
"We're asking the community to turn out, come out, to stand up for what's morally right," he said. "I think Burien has a good morale compass, and at the end of the day, whether this repeal gets on the ballot or not, I believe Burien residents will do the right thing."
Olguin and other supporters of the sanctuary city ordinance feel that Respect Washington and its petition are anti-immigrant. But Keller insists that's not the case. He says illegal immigration is what concerns him.
"Legal immigrants support this effort. I want to make that really clear," said Keller. "It's silly for those people to say we're anti-immigrant. We're not."
If city council chooses to have the measure placed the November ballot, it must submit a resolution.to King County Elections by August 1.
Respect Washington has already successfully petitioned to get a sanctuary city repeal effort on the November for voters in the City of Spokane.
Next year, Keller said they hope to replicate the effort on a larger scale, targeting Seattle's sanctuary city ordinance and the state at large.
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