By Jack Mayne
Burien, SeaTac police and King County Sheriffâ€™s deputies were told recentlyÂ 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 Sheriffâ€™s office policy, Sheriff John Urquhart said Friday (March 4).
He told his officers â€“ and those who work as local police officers for Burien and SeaTac â€“ they are â€œnot to stop, arrest, detain, or transport anyone for any length of timeâ€ even if there is a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) listing on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant or detainer.
â€œTo do so is a violation of the Fourth Amendment related to search and seizure, and therefore is a violation of that personsâ€™ constitutional rights,â€ Urquhart told his 721 sworn officer force.
â€˜Not a crimeâ€™
â€œDetainers and ICE warrants are not based on probable cause,â€ the sheriff said. â€œThey 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.â€
â€œSimply being present in the U.S. without lawful immigration status is not a crime. It is a civil violation,â€ the sheriff said, adding that even if the officer has â€œprobable cause to believe someone is in this country illegally, they still cannot be stopped or detained.â€
Urquhart said there are times when â€œyou may get a hit on a valid criminal warrant signed by a federal judgeâ€ and the â€œwarrant 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.â€