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The Bellingham city council finds as follows:

A. The city of Bellingham is a city of the first class organized under Chapter 35.22 RCW, Article 11, Section 10 of the Washington State Constitution, and the charter of the city of Bellingham as amended. Under its police powers, the city may exercise any power and perform any function, unless preempted by state or federal law, relating to its government and affairs, including the power to regulate for the protection and rights of its inhabitants and to maintain authority over its internal resources and policies. To this end, the city has dedicated itself to providing all of its residents fair and equal access to services, opportunities, and protection and to maximize public safety for the entire Bellingham community.

B. The enforcement of civil and administrative immigration laws is a responsibility of the federal government. Since 2002, matters of immigration law have been handled by the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Requiring local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of civil immigration or administrative laws forces local governments to expend their limited resources to perform traditionally federal functions and diminishes the effectiveness of local law enforcement whose mission is to ensure public safety for the entire community. The Bellingham police department has adopted policies and practices that ensure equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public, regardless of immigration status. Such policies and practices are intended to serve the entire community; to recognize the dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status; to instill confidence in the Bellingham police department; to increase the effectiveness of the department; and to avoid legal exposure associated with improper detentions given the complexity of immigration law. The policies and practices of the Bellingham police department related to immigration have been reviewed and revised starting in May 2006 to further these goals.

C. The goals of this legislation are to affirm and foster trust and cooperation between law enforcement officials and immigrant communities, to heighten crime prevention and public safety, and to reaffirm the city’s commitment to equal access to city services, all so that families and persons may continue to be productive members of the Bellingham community. All Bellingham residents should be confident in seeking the assistance of law enforcement, regardless of their civil immigration status, and confident in their ability to receive city services without inquiry into their civil immigration status to the fullest extent permitted by law. This chapter is intended to be consistent with federal laws regarding communications between local jurisdictions and federal immigration authorities, including but not limited to United States Code Title 8, Section 1373, and shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with such laws. [Ord. 2017-02-008 § 2].

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