Sheriff: Intricacies of immigration enforcement lost on Donald Trump

King County Sheriff John Urquhart told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don immigration enforcement is a tricky issue that Donald Trump can’t understand.
LISTEN: Sheriff Urquhart can’t really help Trump deport people

President-elect Donald Trump says he plans to deport 2 million illegal immigrants who are criminals.

“We’re getting them out of our country or we’re going to incarcerate,” Trump said on “60 Minutes.”

KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don asked King County Sheriff John Urquhart if that’s an accurate number.

“You gotta consider the source,” Urquhart said. “I have no idea where he comes up with that number. I’ve heard President Obama say there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country; let’s go with that. But I have no idea how many are so-called criminals.”

King County’s policy

Sheriff Urquhart says his deputies are not allowed to ask the status of one’s immigration — a policy that dates back at least 25 years.

“They’re not allowed to ask for a green card, they’re not allowed to ask if they’re in the country legally or illegally, they can’t ask anything about that,” he said.

Urquhart says this is nothing new with the Sheriff’s Office or the Northwest.

For example, Urquhart ran through a few scenarios. A dad is arrested for stealing baby food at a store — he’ll get a few hours or a night in jail. Deputies should not concern themselves with the man’s immigration status, even if they suspect he’s undocumented. In a second scenario, deputies arrest a man who is a known drug dealer working with the Mexican cartel and they suspect he’s undocumented.

“We better darn well be calling ICE. There’s a finesse to all of this that is totally lost on most people, not the least of which is Donald Trump.”

Deportation force

As for a federal deportation force, Urquhart says “knock yourselves out.” But deputies won’t be going door-to-door to inspect people’s papers.

“We are not an arm of the federal government,” he said. “We will not enforce federal laws including immigration laws. No police department in this part of the country can do that.”

In his first 100 Days, Trump promised to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities. Urquhart said that doesn’t really affect him as a cop, nor does it affect the Sheriff’s Office as it doesn’t receive too much federal funding.

“But I think it would have a significant effect on King County as a whole and maybe it would have a trickle-down effect on the Sheriff’s Office.”

He said it’s probably something the City of Seattle should be worried about.

Urquhart says it’s not entirely clear what a “sanctuary city” is, much less a sanctuary county. He imagines everyone’s definition is slightly different.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole echoed a similar sentiment and said the policies of the Seattle Police Department regarding immigration status will not change. Read more here.

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