Immigrant detained by ICE after calling police for help

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The Tukwila Police Department is trying to reassure those in the immigrant community that it will not respond to "administrative warrants" coming from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This comes after an immigrant who called police for help Thursday ended up being turned over to ICE agents.

The Tukwila police department tells me this was essentially an accident -- and it happened because a warrant from ICE came down in a format its officers had never seen before.

I'm told its deputy chief spent a long time today reaching out to other police chiefs in our area, making sure other departments are also aware of what they could be seeing from ICE.

The incident has advocates for immigrants worried.

“Every time people hear about this, they're going to wonder, well, if I call another police department is the same thing going to happen to me?” said Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Thursday morning around 5:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of South 148th Street of Tukwila, an immigrant from Honduras called police for help.

The police department’s spokesman said he was calling because he saw someone suspicious in and around his property.

But within an hour, officers brought the man to ICE offices.

The man's neighbors say what happened isn't right.

“It’s sad. It's sad. It's just unfortunate that he thought he was doing the right thing, and at the end of the day he was detained for that,” said Angela Canady, who lives in the same block.

In a Facebook post Saturday, Tukwila police said they didn't realize at first what the warrant was, saying, "Officers believed that they were executing a valid order from a judge in the form of a criminal warrant."

They realized later it was an administrative warrant from ICE. It worked to reassure the immigrant community, saying in the same post, "We will not be responding to these types of warrants from u.S. Immigration and customs enforcement moving forward."

And, "It is vital that every member of our community feel safe and comfortable calling the police for help. This is why we became police officers in the first place."

But Barón says Tukwila police and all law enforcement agencies in the area should already be aware.

“It’s good obviously that they're changing the policy and they're not going to do this again, but I have to say I'm disappointed and -- a little disturbed they didn't know about this,” Barón said.

He mentions the attorney general's "Guidance Concerning Immigration Enforcement" issued in April 2017, where the AG does discuss new detainer forms from ICE called "administrative warrants."

“I think it's profoundly damaging and troubling that this occurred,” Barón said.

KIRO7 reached out to the attorney of the man who was detained, but didn't get through Saturday night.

According to the Seattle Times, the attorney says his client has three kids here, all born in the U.S., and no criminal history.

The Times says he left Honduras to escape "rampant gang violence" that had killed a family member.

Tukwilla police said it is taking measures to make sure something like this does not happen again.

About the Author