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Washington City Council to Consider ‘Sanctuary City’ Label

A town in south-central Washington is being asked by residents to declare itself a sanctuary city. The move would have the municipality join with the surrounding Yakima County which is already listed as a sanctuary jurisdiction.

The City Council of Yakima announced that it has place the sanctuary city issue on its agenda for Tuesday night after at least two resident asked the City to take on the status. The agenda item states an explanation of “the term ‘sanctuary city’ will be presented after two residents late last year asked the council to decide if Yakima is a sanctuary city,” the Yakima Herald reported on Monday.

Resident Kelly White, asked the council to implement a “Sanctuary City Ordinance,” according to the minutes of a December city council meeting. She asked the council to “stand against bigotry and prejudice” and called for the implementation of the ordinance. During her comments she also ask the council to “uphold women’s Page 3 of 10 rights; assure that Planned Parenthood will remain open; full LGBTQ inclusion; protection of religious freedom; commit to criminal justice reform and rebuild trust between police and communities of color; increase mental health funding; zero tolerance on racism, discrimination, and raids conducted by Immigration Customs Enforcement; assure that victims of discrimination and/or harassment have full access to City services; outsource the Equity Study; add subtitles to City Council meetings; pledge to stand in solidarity with our most vulnerable communities to reaffirm Yakima’s commitment to the values of inclusivity, respect, and dignity.”

The other resident requesting the status was not mentioned in the City’s minutes from that particular meeting.

Breitbart Texas obtained a report from Yakima City Attorney Cynthia Martinez that will be presented to the council at Tuesday’s meeting. She explains there is no “formal definition for the term ‘sanctuary city’,” in the memo to be discussed at the council meeting.

“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 authorities,” Martinez wrote.

It appears the presentation by the city in Tuesday night’s meeting will not include the potential loss of federal law enforcement funds that could come from declaring itself to be a sanctuary city. As reported previously by Breitbart Texas, existing law already allows the DOJ to cut of federal grants managed by the department to any jurisdiction that is not “100 percent compliant” with immigration requests from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Representative John Culberson (R-TX) worked with the DOJ over the past year to force the enforcement of 8 U.S.C. § 1373. This is an existing law passed during the Clinton administration meant to require 100 percent cooperation from local and state jurisdictions in order to receive DOJ grant funding.

“99 percent is not good enough,” Culberson stated. “These jurisdictions must cooperate 100 percent in order to qualify for these DOJ grants. They must choose between protecting illegal aliens and receiving federal funds.” She explained the policies can be mandated by the jurisdiction or can be practiced unofficially.

The Center for Immigration Studies has already listed Yakima County with more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions that was presented to the DOJ by Rep. Culberson last year. Martinez references the 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in her memo.

From that list of more than 300 jurisdictions, 10 have been certified by the DOJ to not be in compliance and therefore not eligible for grants in the 2017 distribution process that begins this month.

Those jurisdictions certified as not being in compliance are:

  • The State of Connecticut
  • The State of California
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Cook County, Illinois
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Clark County, Nevada

The DOJ states these jurisdictions received 65 percent of the awards by the OJP in FY2015 through March 2016.

“It is not just future funds that are at risk for these sanctuary jurisdictions,” the chairman stated. “The DOJ can force them to reimburse funds received from these grant programs in the past. This means, the State of California could be forced to repay the more than $3 billion in grants received over the past 10 years.”

City Attorney Martinez explained in her memo that other terms can also be used. Those include “safe city,” and “refuge city,” she explained. She attached samples of policies adopted by other jurisdictions in the state of Washington including Burien, Olympia, Seattle, and King County.

Martinez wrote that the City currently prohibits law enforcement officers from asking the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses. She did not address the issue of immigration detainers at the city jail for illegal immigrants who are arrested and charged with crimes.

Breitbart Texas reached out to the City of Yakima and the Yakima Police Department for clarification of its immigration detainer policy. A response from those contacted was not immediately available.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.

Sanctuary City Definition Memo – Yakima City Attorney by Bob Price on Scribd

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