Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

ICE Gets Arrest Figures Wrong For Operation Targeting Sanctuary Cities. Then It Gets Them Wrong Again.

Over two days, the immigration agency sent out a series of erroneous press releases trying to talk tough against cities like Seattle.

ICE wants to talk a tough game against cities like Seattle that have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.

Problem is, ICE doesn’t seem to know what its game is.

In a series of press releases Thursday and Friday, the agency repeatedly put out erroneous information about an immigration sweep in Seattle. Or Portland. Or maybe Tukwila.

Things started out in Portland, where, as the Oregonian reports, ICE announced on Thursday it had arrested 33 undocumented immigrants as part of Operation Safe City, a four-day campaign focused on jurisdictions that do not honor “detainer” requests—or requests ICE sends to local law enforcement holding on to people ICE wants to arrest. It was a pointed release, considering that just a week before, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had come to Portland to rail against sanctuary cities.

However, 15 hours after that release was put out, ICE retracted the figures. In fact, the Oregonian reports, the number arrested in Portland was four, a non-exceptional figure for the area.

“This was actually our normal fugitive arrests operation for the area,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley told the paper. “It’s something that we do every day.”

Rather than retracting the release about Operation Safe City altogether, though, the agency re-wrote it, this time saying that the 33 arrests were made in Seattle.

That set off a flurry of media coverage here, including in Seattle Weekly.

Yet, once again, the numbers were wrong. In fact, only one arrest occurred in Seattle; another 25 arrests occurred across Washington, including in Everett, Bellevue, and Tukwila. Another seven occurred in Oregon.

Speaking to Seattle Weekly, Haley says that the confusion arose from the fact that the ICE field office responsible for Washington, Oregon, and Alaska is based in Seattle.

The context of all this bluster is ICE’s crackdown on cities that don’t honor those detainers.

Detainer requests are requests made by federal authorities to local jurisdictions to hold on to people they arrest in order to give federal agents time to come to the jail and seize them; several courts have ruled that detaining someone not because of a crime they committed but because another government agency wants to get their hands on them is unconstitutional. Many jurisdictions have also concluded that honoring detainer requests makes cities less safe, because it gives people a disincentive to make contact with law enforcement.

When King County banned the honoring of detainer requests in 2014, Councilmember Larry Gossett said:

“I am very pleased with the passage of this legislation as it aligns our policies with recent federal rulings. Of equal importance, it maintains public safety by honoring criminal warrants, which is the norm for anyone in the criminal justice system, and moves us closer to treating all those being detained in our correctional facilities with the same level of justice regardless of their immigration status.”

More recently, the King County Sheriff’s Department was commended by a University of Washington human rights group for its strong language against working with ICE.

“Detainers and ICE warrants are not based on probable cause. They are not signed by a neutral judge or magistrate, but are typically signed by almost anyone authorized within ICE. They are not reviewed by any court. They cannot be served by local law enforcement,” reads a directive from Sheriff John Urquhart.

However, ICE maintains that not honoring retainer requests make cities more dangerous.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” said ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in the press release announcing Operation Safe City. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”

We’ll let you know if they retract that statement, as well.

dperson@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Parents in Kelowna lack confidence in the vaccination (Metro Creative Graphics Photo)
State health department approves Pfizer booster for kids ages 5-11

The move comes as COVID-19 cases are increasing in King County

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
Public health officials confirm case of monkeypox in King County

Health officials say the positive case does not pose a significant risk to public health

Patti Cole-Tindall (Courtesy of King County)
Patti Cole-Tindall is officially confirmed as the new King County Sheriff

After serving as the interim sheriff since January, the King County Council… Continue reading

World War II veterans in Auburn, Wash. File photo
Washington ranks 7th among states for number of World War II veterans

12,364 WWII veterans are living in the state, with a total population of 517,912 military veterans.

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

Most Read