South Sound News

UW report says research shows bias against immigrants held in Pierce County jails

The University of Washington Center for Human Rights released a report Wednesday critical of Pierce County's handling of immigrant and Latino detainees.

The report, "Unequal Justice: Measuring the Impact of ICE Detainers on Jail Time in Pierce County," says people getting detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement spend more than three times as long in Pierce County jails compared to other defendants who have similar charges.

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A detainer request is used by ICE or the Department of Homeland Security when agents believe someone in jail has the potential to be deported.

Compliance by jails is voluntary, but defendants can be held up to 48 business hours longer.

The report also says Latinos in Pierce County are much more likely than any other group to be targeted by ICE agents.

"Where ICE is at the doorstep of the jail, it impacts dramatically the experience of people in the jail itself," said Tim Warden-Hertz of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

KIRO 7's Rob Munoz talked to Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, who said he wished the department was contacted for the study and that he also feels the number were extrapolated.

"I think, sadly, this was bad social science," Pastor said.

Pastor reiterated that his agency will follow legal processes and requests from a legitimate federal agency. He also said only 0.6 percent of their detainees are subject to ICE detainer requests.

Pastor added that his department does and has worked with the Hispanic community because they need their help in solving crimes.

"We will allow them in and take a look at people, and if they wish to get a judicial order, we will observe the judicial order. That's what we see as lawful," Pastor said.

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