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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Olympia: Washington's newest sanctuary for immigrants

The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)/
The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.

There's a new sanctuary city in Washington.

Olympia's City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to make it a sanctuary for immigrants. The city will not ask people about their immigration status and won't give the federal government information on residents' legal status.

Olympia is among several places to reiterate support for immigrants after the presidential election.

Thurston County, which includes Olympia, is not an official sanctuary. But the county passed a "welcoming community" resolution this week according to county spokesperson John Tennis.

Tennis: "Immigration has been a cornerstone of the county, the state and really the nation's development throughout history. And I think the county wants people to know that it is a welcoming community to all residents regardless of what their immigration status is."

As part of the “welcoming communities” resolution, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office will not detain people in the country illegally, unless they have felony or serious convictions.

Some cities, like Shoreline, are speaking out in other ways. Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts spoke out against discrimination and hate speech this week and said he hopes other cities do the same. At least eight cities have signed onto Roberts’ stance, including Everett, Bothell and Skykomish.

The official sanctuary areas in the Northwest also include Seattle, King County, and Portland, Oregon. The city of Burien will vote on sanctuary status on December 19.