ACLU Hails Passage of King County Immigration Ordinance

News Release: 
Monday, February 26, 2018
Today the King County Council adopted a new ordinance to ensure that King County’s limited resources are not spent collaborating with the Trump Administration’s aggressive deportation agenda. The Immigration Ordinance preserves the privacy and civil liberties of our County’s residents by barring the use of King County employees’ time and resources facilitating immigration detention and deportation.
“The passage of the Immigration Ordinance sends a message that King County residents, regardless of immigration status, shouldn’t be afraid to access local services,” said Enoka Herat, ACLU of Washington Police Practices and Immigrant Rights Counsel. “If the County becomes an extension of the federal immigration system, noncitizens are less likely to report crime or appear as witnesses, making us all less safe.”
The ordinance is important because the Trump Administration has prioritized the deportation of 3 million people regardless of criminal history or ties to the community. It targets refugees, the Muslim community, and even legal immigrants. It has increased immigration enforcement by 40%.
“Detention and deportation separates families and harms communities. When a person is arrested by ICE, detained, and deported, children lose their parents, employers lose their workers, friends and loved ones are separated, and fear spreads through the community,” said the ACLU-WA’s Enoka Herat. “And, enforcing federal immigration law is not the business of local government.”
The Immigration Ordinance passed by the Council protects the rights of immigrants in several ways. It:
  • prevents the use of County funds and resources on federal immigration enforcement;
  • makes clear that King County cannot deny anyone county services based on immigration status, unless required by law.
  • prohibits King County employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status or whether a person has violated civil immigration laws;
  • requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to get a judicial warrant to access non-public parts of King County’s property or databases;
  • bars King County Jail staff from collecting “place of birth” information, which is used by immigration agents to begin investigations for detention and deportation.
  • ensures that immigrants in County custody know their rights. It requires that noncitizens facing ICE interviews in King County Jail be informed of their Constitutional right to remain silent. This is critical because ICE agents, unlike police, are not required to inform people that they have the right to remain silent;
  • directs the County to establish a fund to provide legal representation for indigent immigrants in deportation proceedings and to create a fund to support citizenship services and English classes.
The ACLU-WA thanks the many community groups and people who have called for this ordinance and the King County Council members who have made the County a national leader in safeguarding the rights of immigrants in the community.