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CITY OF YAKIMA

LEGAL
DEPARTMENT
200 South Third Street, 2nd Fl. | Yakima, WA 98901

P: 509.575.6030 | F: 509.575.6160

MEMO RA ND UM
January 4, 2017
TO:

Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council


Cliff Moore, City Manager

FROM:

Cynthia Martinez, Senior Assistant City Attorney

SUBJECT:

Sanctuary City Inquiry

There is no formal definition for the term, sanctuary city, and the concept may mean
something different depending on who you ask. Generally, the term is used to refer to American
cities, counties or states that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by limiting
cooperation with federal immigration authorities1. Sanctuary policies can be mandated
expressly by law or practiced unofficially. There are reportedly 300 sanctuary cities in the US.2
Most sanctuary legislation applies to law enforcement and prohibits officers from asking those
they come in contact with about their immigration status. Some cities have chosen to extend
polices to city employees and contractors. The City of Yakima has not adopted sanctuary
legislation or official policies.
The Yakima Police Department does not inquire about the immigration status of victims
or defendants during the investigation process because it is widely believed that making such
inquiries may cause distrust and lead individuals not to report crime. For the most part, a
persons immigration status is irrelevant during the course of a criminal investigation.
Attached is a legal memorandum, several Washington city ordinances and policies
relating to sanctuary city status. It is unknown how many Washington cities have adopted these
types of ordinances.3 The City of Burien recently considered different sanctuary city ordinances.
Lisa Marshall, the City Attorney in Burien, prepared the attached excellent overview
memorandum on the topic. Please see exhibit A and B. The City of Burien voted on Option H,
which is contained in the supplemental material Exhibit B, however the full council was not
present during the vote and although a majority of those present voted to approve, it was not the
four votes necessary to pass the ordinance pursuant to RCW 35A.12.120. Apparently some
news agencies reported the measure had passed, when it actually didnt.
Also attached is information pertaining to, sanctuary schools. Public schools in the
United States have an obligation to provide education to those in the country regardless of
1

The Economist Explains: What are sanctuary cities? - The Economist, November 22, 2016
Opinion: The Business President Should Leave Sanctuary Cities Alone - NBC News, by Victoria Defranscesco
Soto, December 2, 2016
3
MRSC Inquiry.
2

Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council


Cliff Moore, City Manager
January 4, 2017
Page 2
immigration status. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982). Some schools have adopted a policy
limiting immigration agents access to school records. See attached Exhibit F.
I also researched the terms, safe city, and, refuge city.
interchangeable with the term, sanctuary city.

These terms are

Exhibits Attached:
A. Burien Legal Memorandum entitled Sanctuary City Options: includes background and
legal framework and 6 local examples
B. Burien Supplemental Legal Memorandum: Includes 3 additional local examples
C. City of Olympia Sanctuary City Resolution
D. City of Seattle Executive Order
E. King County Council protects public safety and health by ensuring all residents have
access to services, Council News Article, Update May 5, 2015
F. Sanctuary School Information