King County Sheriff’s Office Immigration Policies Praised in UW Report From Human Rights Center

King County Sheriff’s Office Immigration Policies Praised in UW Report From Human Rights Center
September 28, 2017



(SEATTLE, WA.) — A new research memo issued Wednesday by the University of Washington Human Rights Center titled, “Don’t Ask, Do Tell,” praises the policies adopted by the King County Sheriff’s office.

The report analyzes local law enforcement policy guidelines regarding collaboration with federal immigration agencies.

The full report, found here notes that three jurisdictions in Washington State – the King County Sheriff’s Office, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and the Bellevue Police Department – have policies specifying the difference between a “judicially signed warrant” and an ICE administrative warrant.

The report says, “In response to the courts’ criticism [on ICE detainer warrants], ICE has increasingly issued its own administrative warrants to accompany detainers.” The memo explains that ICE administrative warrants “are not the same as criminal warrants, which typically require a finding of probable cause that is reviewed and signed off by a neutral judge.

ICE agents write and sign administrative warrants themselves and because they are not signed by a judge, they are insufficient to meet the Fourth Amendment concerns laid out by the courts, according to the report.

Background on King County Sheriff Department policy ICE warrant policy

In March of this year, Sheriff John Urquhart was contacted by the Northwest Immigration Rights Project regarding rumors of a local police officer arresting someone in downtown Seattle and delivering him to the ICE detention facility in Des Moines.

That particular rumor turned out to be false, but it revealed that some deputies were not distinguishing between judicially-signed warrants and ICE administrative warrants, according to a recent statement from the sheriff’s office.

In response, Sheriff Urquhart ordered the policy changed and sent out the following directive:

Sheriff’s deputies are not to stop, arrest, detain, or transport anyone for any length of time because they get a NCIC “hit” on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant or detainer. To do so is a violation of the 4th Amendment related to Search and Seizure, and therefore is a violation of that person’s constitutional rights.

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.

If a deputy has probable cause to believe someone is in this country illegally, they still cannot be stopped or detained. Simply being present in the U.S. without lawful immigration status is not a crime. It is a civil violation.

There are some criminal immigration violations and occasionally you may get a hit on a valid criminal warrant signed by a Federal judge. The warrant should name at least the court that issued the warrant, and can be verified through DATA, like we would do with any other judicially issued arrest warrant.

John Urquhart, Sheriff



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