Trump Administration: These Washington Counties Are 'Non-Cooperative' On Immigration Enforcement

Mar 22, 2017

The Trump administration is calling out cities and counties for their policies toward undocumented immigrants, and Washington state is well-represented on the list. 

Eleven Washington counties appear in a report the administration published Monday identifying jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

They have policies against honoring "detainer" requests by federal officials to hold someone in jail on suspected immigration violations. 

King County Council Chairman Joe McDermott called the list an "anti-democratic" attempt to pressure local governments to change their policies.

"It's actually trying to shame us," he said. 

President Donald Trump called for the report in a Jan. 25 executive order, saying the purpose was to "better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions."

ICE officials plan to publish a report weekly. 

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan called detainer requests an important part of his agency's work.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Homan said in a statement.

King County only honors detainer requests when immigration officials have a court order or in cases of people convicted of certain serious crimes. 

McDermott said ICE officials have never produced the paperwork necessary to meet the county's criteria for a detainer.  "In practice, we're honoring no ICE detainers," he said.

Snohomish County appears on a list of 10 "non-cooperating" governments that had the most detainer requests. The county received 12 requests during a one-week period covered by the report, according to ICE. 

That list is of limited value because immigration officials stopped requesting detainers in some, but not all, jurisdictions that do not comply. 

"If ICE truly felt that these offenders were a danger to society, they would establish probable cause and seek an arrest warrant, just like any other law enforcement agency," Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said in a statement.

"Since our policy to no longer honor detainer requests has been in place, ICE has produced zero warrants at our jail," said Trenary.

Snohomish County does not honor detainer requests without a judicial warrant or court order. Trenary said that policy is based on a 2014 federal court decision in Oregon.

"Not honoring ICE detainer requests has nothing to do with whether Snohomish County is a 'sanctuary' jurisdiction and has everything to do with following the letter of the law," he said.

Pierce County has the same policy, but was not listed anywhere in the report. ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An ICE official said there is "no known mechanism" for a federal judge to issue an arrest warrant in an immigration case, which is civil and not criminal. 

The report also highlights instances in which an undocumented immigrant was released from jail despite a detainer request, and lists the person's country of origin and a crime they are accused or convicted of.

The report identifies five such cases in Washington state during the week of Jan. 28 to Feb 3.