Dad facing deportation after calling Tukwila police for help

When a man called police last week to report someone suspicious on his property, officers ended up turning him into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As Wilson Rodriguez remains in the northwest immigration detention center, Tukwila Police Department tells KIRO 7 that arresting him was essentially an accident.

Here's what to know now.

When this happened

Thursday morning around 5:30 a.m. in the 4000 block of of Tukwila, Rodriguez, an undocumented immigrant, called police for help.

According to police, 32-year-old Rodriguez was calling because he saw someone suspicious hanging around his property. But within an hour, officers brought Rodriguez to ICE offices. He was taken to the northwest immigration detention center, where he faces imminent deportation.

What police say

The Tukwila Police Department is trying to reassure those in the immigrant community that it will not respond to “administrative warrants” coming from ICE.

The Tukwila Police Department tells KIRO 7 News this was essentially an accident -- and this happened because a warrant from ICE came down in a format its officers had never seen before.

"As per policy, our officers do not inquire as to the nationality or immigration status of suspects, victims, witnesses or others nor do they access immigration databases to make such checks. Race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status are of no bearing on the decision to make arrests. In this particular case, officers were informed that there was a warrant, verified that the warrant was valid and transferred the individual named in the warrant over to the issuing authority," the department wrote 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."

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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."

Tukwilla PD says is taking measures to make sure something like this does not happen again.

About Rodriguez

Wilson Rodriguez has three young children, and they were all born in the United States, according to an attorney. Rodriguez moved to the United States when he was 18. He's built a life for himself working as a carpenter.

KIRO 7 News talked to Rodriguez's attorney, who says the father is an active church member who gives back to his community. He does not have a criminal record, the attorney said.

The attorney is trying to file motions to get Rodriguez's case reopened. The warrant, which police referenced, stemmed from a 2004 court hearing about his immigration status that he missed in Texas, according to the attorney.




What advocacy groups say

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.

“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.

About King County's sanctuary jurisdictions

Seattle and King County recently doubled down on defiance of the Trump administration’s demand to cease being sanctuary jurisdictions. President Trump has threatened to withhold money from sanctuary jurisdictions like Seattle and King County because they don't routinely help the feds track undocumented immigrants.

McDermott, Mayor Jenny Durkan, and City Attorney Pete Holmes held a news conference in December reaffirming Seattle and King County as “welcoming municipality.”

Leaders claim to be in compliance with a law that the DOJ says they're violation of. Read more about the law in question here.

"While this president plays to dividing Americans in every way he can, King County will remain a safe place no matter where you're from, how you got here, or why you left," said McDermott.
Interpretations vary for the term "sanctuary cities." It generally refers to rules restricting state and local governments from alerting federal authorities about people who may be in the country illegally, according to The Washington Post. In the Seattle area, it means there is a city law that says police and government agencies do not ask immigration status of people seeking services.

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