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Report: Collaboration between King County (Seattle, WA) jails and ICE results in unfair and costly impact

March 28, 2013 (1 min read)

"A study released by the University of Washington today offers detailed analysis of the impacts of King County jail’s collaboration in the immigration enforcement policies and practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. ... Specifically, the UW report, written by Katherine Beckett, Ph.D. and co-author Ph.D. candidate Heather Evans, focuses on the use of immigration detainer requests, also known as “ICE holds.” ICE holds are placed on individuals booked into the King County Jail whom ICE believes are not U.S. citizens and whom ICE seeks to investigate for possible placement in removal proceedings. To date, King County has not exercised its authority to limit the circumstances under which it will submit to ICE detainer requests. Consequently, county officials routinely detain community members on behalf of ICE. In addition to prolonged detention, these practices also result in county residents being funneled directly into ICE custody upon their release, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime, the seriousness of any conviction, or other circumstances. 

The report confirms both the experience of immigrant and refugee communities and the criticisms advocates have been leveling at ICE and local governments that collaborate with them in these practices. Namely, the report highlights that the current King County practice of submitting to all ICE detainer requests:

•    extends the time in jail for individuals subject to them by an average of nearly 30 days,

•    disproportionately impacts Latinos -more than one-fourth of Hispanics booked into King County jail were transferred to ICE upon release,

•    and costs King County and local municipalities nearly $2 million dollars in 2011 alone. 

Additionally, the report documents that ICE practices are not prioritizing the apprehension of individuals with serious criminal convictions for removal. Contrary to the agency’s stated priorities, ICE’s enforcement dragnet is, in reality, targeting a much broader proportion of our immigrant and refugee communities. The report finds that nearly two-thirds of the people flagged by ICE were not charged with a felony offense when booked into jail and approximately one in eight were not charged with any crime at all before being handed over to ICE’s custody." - NWIRP, Mar. 27, 2013.