By GENE JOHNSON
SEATTLE (AP) — Immigration agents rounded up 84 people — including 60 with criminal records — during a three-day operation in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, authorities announced on March 30.
The operation ended on March 27 and targeted criminals residing in the United States illegally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Seattle field office said in a statement.
It was the region’s biggest immigration roundup in recent memory. Last summer, agents arrested 19 people in a similar sweep in northwestern Washington state.
Those arrested included 77 men and seven women from 12 countries, the vast majority of them from Mexico.
Nineteen had drunken driving convictions, and 14 had been convicted of assault, sex offenses or domestic violence.
Some will be prosecuted for illegally re-entering the country while the rest face deportation proceedings.
“This operation highlights our commitment to promoting public safety through the pursuit of targeted criminals residing in the U.S. illegally,” Bryan Wilcox, acting field office director ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Seattle, said in the release.
Among those arrested was Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a participant in a federal program designed to protect from deportation those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Rodriguez Dominguez was brought to the U.S. from Morelia, in Mexico’s Michoacan state, at age 5.
Last December, he entered a diversion program following a drunken driving arrest and had attended all his court dates and required meetings, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which publicized his arrest earlier.
The organization suggested Rodriguez’ arrest represented an erosion of protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program amid President Donald Trump’s call to boost deportations.
ICE said it targeted him because of the DUI. The Department of Homeland Security can terminate DACA status if it determines someone is a risk to public safety.
Rose Richeson, an ICE spokeswoman, said she did not have information on whether anyone else arrested in the operation had participated in DACA. She referred an inquiry to Sharon Rummery, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who also said she did not have the information.
Also among those arrested was a previously deported Mexican man who had been charged with child rape, and who was recently released from custody by a local jurisdiction despite a detainer request by the agency. ICE said he was arrested in the Seattle area, but the agency declined to release further information about him.
Many jurisdictions in the Northwest refuse to honor immigration detainer requests after a federal court in Oregon ruled in 2014 that it’s unconstitutional to hold people without a warrant after they would have otherwise been released.
An immigration detainer — essentially a request that a local jail hold someone in custody until ICE can pick them up and begin deportation proceedings — is not backed by a probable cause finding and doesn’t satisfy that legal requirement, the court said.
Since then, ICE has changed its policies, and it’s changing them again next month to require its immigration detainer requests to be accompanied by an “administrative arrest warrant,” backed by a statement of probable cause from an ICE agent which has not been reviewed by any court. Some jurisdictions say that’s still not good enough.
Sheriff Ty Trenary, of Snohomish County in Washington state, emphasized that point last week after acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said it “undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety” when jurisdictions don’t honor detainer requests.
“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,” Trenary said in a written statement. “Since our policy to no longer honor detainer requests has been in place, ICE has produced zero warrants at our jail.”
Richeson said the agency does not need a judicial warrant because its actions are administrative, rather than criminal, proceedings.
Nineteen of the arrests were made in King County, which includes Seattle, and 13 were made in Washington County, Oregon. Four were made in Anchorage, Alaska.