SeaTac, Burien Police ordered by Sheriff not to enforce federal ICE warrants
By Jack Mayne
Burien, SeaTac police and King County Sheriff’s deputies were told recently that ICE immigration warrants are not enforceable because a federal court does not issue such warrants.
Asking any person about their immigration status is a violation of a long-standing Sheriff’s office policy, Sheriff John Urquhart said Friday (March 4).
He told his officers – and those who work as local police officers for Burien and SeaTac – they are “not to stop, arrest, detain, or transport anyone for any length of time” even if there is a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) listing on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant or detainer.
“To do so is a violation of the Fourth Amendment related to search and seizure, and therefore is a violation of that persons’ constitutional rights,” Urquhart told his 721 sworn officer force.
‘Not a crime’
“Detainers and ICE warrants are not based on probable cause,” the sheriff said. “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.”
“Simply being present in the U.S. without lawful immigration status is not a crime. It is a civil violation,” the sheriff said, adding that even if the officer has “probable cause to believe someone is in this country illegally, they still cannot be stopped or detained.”
Urquhart said there are times when “you may get a hit on a valid criminal warrant signed by a federal judge” and the “warrant should name at least the court that issued the warrant, and can be verified … like we would do with any other judicially issued arrest warrant.”