Sheriff to meet with community leaders on immigration ordinance June 5


King County Sheriff John Urquhart will meet with Sound Alliance leaders and members on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. at Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines about a proposed immigration-related ordinance the King County Council is expected to consider in June.

Leaders of Sound Alliance, a coalition of religious congregations, labor unions, and other organizations, plan to ask Sheriff Urquhart to work with them to persuade undecided King County Council members to vote for the proposed ordinance and to support similar ordinances at the municipal level.

“As a result of King County’s current practices, our communities are not as safe as they could be, families are being broken up, and tax payer money is being wasted,” said Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto, minister of Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, where the meeting will be held. “Current practice is particularly bad for immigrant victims of domestic violence,” Kubal-Komoto said.

As part of the federal Secure Communities Program, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) authorities regularly ask local law enforcement to hold arrested individuals with uncertain immigration status, even if arrested for a low-level offense, until they can be picked up, transferred to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, and likely be deported.

The proposed ordinance, called the TRUST ordinance, would limit King County law enforcement’s ability to turn over individuals arrested for low-level offenses to ICE authorities. Individuals arrested and convicted of more serious offenses or with records of serious convictions would still be held.

At a Sound Alliance sponsored meeting regarding the ordinance in Kirkland on May 30, a crowd of more than 100 heard the story of an Auburn woman who contacted the police to report her husband for domestic violence, but as a result of her poor language skills, she was arrested instead of her abuser and was eventually transferred to the Tacoma detention center. Such stories are not uncommon, according to other speakers at the Kirkland meeting, and as a result, immigrant victims of crime and witnesses to crimes are often hesitant to contact the police, making it less likely that crimes that affect all King County residents will be solved.

Local religious leaders and immigration reform advocates at the Kirkland meeting told stories of families that had been broken up and lost their primary wage earners as a result of King County’s current practices.

Attendees at the Kirkland meeting also heard about a recent University of Washington study that showed that individuals subject to ICE holds spent an extra 30 days in jail on average and this extra jail time was costing King County $1.8 million a year in local tax dollars.

Nearly two-thirds of people recently subjected to ICE holds were not charged with a felony offense. Approximately one in eight were not charged with any crime. (Immigration Detainer Requests in King County Washington: Costs and Consequences, Katherine Beckett and Heather Evans, 2013). Current policy also disproportionately has impacted Latinos. More than one-fourth of Hispanics booked into King County jail were transferred to ICE authorities.

After listening to the negative consequences current practices have for King County communities, King County Council Member Jane Hague publicly agreed before the crowd to support the Trust ordinance.

Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church, where the meeting with sheriff will be held, is located at 25701 14th Place South in Des Moines.

Before working to support this ordinance, Sound Alliance has won recent victories in the areas of sustainable jobs and the environment, housing, health care, immigration, and civil rights. See iafnw.org/soundalliance/success-stories.


Comments

3 Responses to “Sheriff to meet with community leaders on immigration ordinance June 5”
  1. John OLeary says:

    So I suppose the real question, is do we support the rule of law or not? Do our borders, law and sovereignty have any meaning? As a retired law enforcement official it would be difficult for me to call for political support of this type of lack of enforcement.

    If the conduct is illegal why make enforcement more difficult? I could point to studies that show many state prison systems are crowded with illegal immigrants who have committed serious felonies. While there may be some additional front end expenses for housing misdemeants waiting to transfer to ICE, substanial “savings” are recovered by not having to investigate additional crimes which some offenders may commit or the burden of social services cost to many communities. I agree, many hardship and heart wrenching stories come out of deportation. It seems maybe there is a price to illegal immigration. It appears more difficult to quantify how many innocent victims could be saved by following the law.

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  2. Cindy says:

    I agree with Mr. O’Leary.

    King County Sheriff John Urquhart has the obligation to uphold the law, ALL laws unilaterally.

    When a law enforcement agency starts picking and choosing which laws it upholds and which to ignore you are left with a police ‘state’ not law enforcement.

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  3. Cindy says:

    Part of obtaining a Green Card is a clear criminal history.

    Before obtaining permanent residence in the U.S., you will have to provide U.S. immigration authorities with police reports from every place where you have lived at least one year since you turned 16. If you have no police record, you will need a statement from the police attesting to that.

    This proposal violates immigration laws … it implies that if they are here illegally they should be treated differently from those who are here legally and are arrested for a crime.

    It imposes a double standard that benefits those who are here illegally over those who are here legally and have gone through the proper channels and commit crimes.. subjecting them to the loss of their Green Cards.

    Illegals should be treated better than those who come in legally through the appropriate channels?

    How can they say it is disproportionately targeting Latinos when Latinos make up the largest group of illegal immigrants?

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