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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.

Burien looks to San Francisco's sanctuary city policy, one of the boldest yet

The Burien City Council is set to review various “sanctuary city” proposals Monday. The move aims to protect immigrants and keep local police out of immigration enforcement.


When the council took up this issue at a meeting in early December, council members appeared pleasantly surprised at the large and diverse turnout.

Many Burien residents spoke in support of a sanctuary ordinance, including Jennifer Fichamba. She’s a school counselor, born and raised in Burien. Her emotions rose as she talked about discrimination toward her students and her own family.

Fichamba: “Because of the color of their skin. Discrimination has become all too common. By becoming a sanctuary city we are sending a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.”

The council is now expected to review a menu of options for a sanctuary policy. They all aim to tell immigrants that their legal status is not the city’s concern.

The question before the council seems to be how strong of a position to take. One option on the table is to sign on to a letter of support.

Another is what one council member described as the “gold star” approach. That would follow the model of San Francisco and not only declare a sanctuary city but also reiterate protections for women’s rights, religious freedoms and the environment, among other things.

Year started with KUOW: 2006