SEATTLE - Eighty-four foreign nationals were arrested during a three-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.
In Washington State, 52 people were arrested during the operation.
ICE said the operation targeted undocumented people with criminal records on the run, previously deported people who have re-entered the U.S., and immigration fugitives.
The numbers of arrests in various Washington state counties were as follows:
- King 19
- Snohomish 9
- Adams 3
- Benton 3
- Cowlitz 3
- Clark 3
- Lincoln 3
- Thurston 2
- Grant 2
- Whatcom 2
- Chelan 2
- Mason 1
Of those arrested during the three-state operation, which ended Monday 60 had criminal histories, including prior convictions for sex crimes, drug offenses and domestic violence.
ICE said a previously deported Mexican national charged with child rape — who was recently released by local authorities despite an immigration detainer — is among those arrested.
What's a detainer? A "detainer" requests that a local law enforcement agency notify ICE as early as 48 hours before an illegal immigrant is released from criminal custody. The detainer also asks that local enforcement briefly maintain custody of the illegal immigrant for DHS to assume custody for removal purposes.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, referred to court rulings that jails honoring detainers violate the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to the pending child rape charge, that Mexican national had convictions for assault, domestic violence, and immoral communications with a minor.
KIRO-7 showed King County Sheriff John Urquhart the arrest announcement by ICE.
"They've picked up very dangerous people, good for them. They should not be in this country. But then they're pointing the finger at local authorities for not recognizing these detainer orders," said Sheriff Urquhart.
He looked through the list of convictions for some of the foreign nationals arrested. According to ICE, the most serious conviction for 19 of the foreign nationals was DUI, 7 had assault convictions, 4 had convictions for larceny or theft.
"To portray these people as the worst of the worst, which is what they're trying to do, that's beyond the pale," said Urquhart.
Urquhart thinks ICE is trying to pressure local law enforcement to honor detainer requests. "They want us to do their dirty work," said Urquhart, "We're not going to do something that is unconstitutional and that's what they're asking us to do."
KIRO-7 asked ICE for an interview and did not receive a response.
The people who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the U.S. Those not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for deportation.
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