Tag Archives: Northwest Detention Center

Spokane decides to outlaw immigration detention by police

illegal immigration

From NBC News: The city of Spokane has agreed to change its policies to make clear that police officers will not question or detain people to enforce federal immigration laws. That’s part of a final settlement the city reached Tuesday in federal court with the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The case stems from a 2014 traffic accident when the vehicle of Gabriel Gomez was struck by a minivan that failed to yield the right of way.  A Spokane police officer responded and contacted the U.S. Border Patrol to ask whether the agency had any interest in Gomez.

The officer issued a ticket to the other driver and then let that driver leave the scene. However, the officer detained Gomez until the Border Patrol arrived and took him into custody.

“I have lived in this community for many years, and to suddenly have the police turn against me after being a victim in the accident really turned my life upside down,” Gomez said in a press release. “I want to be able to trust the police.”

City officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.  Spokane is Washington’s second-largest city with about 210,000 residents.

Gomez was eventually transferred by immigration officials to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where he remained until he posted bond. Gomez is seeking legal status to remain in this country, the ACLU said.

The lawsuit contended the officer unlawfully detained Gomez for purposes of investigating his immigration status and prolonged his detention to assist federal officers. The lawsuit also alleged that city policies unlawfully authorized officers to take such actions.

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to modify its policies to clarify that police officers “shall not contact, question, delay, detain or arrest an individual because s/he is suspected of violating immigration laws,” the settlement said.

ACLU Washington issued this statement on their web site:

“This is an important step towards ensuring that all community members receive equal treatment from police officials,” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP). “The changed policies will help the City to move forward in working to serve all the community members, regardless of their perceived immigration status.”

“We’re pleased that the City has recognized the need to change its policies to prevent such unfair treatment of immigrants in the future,” said Enoka Herat, ACLU of Washington Police Practices and Immigrant Rights Counsel.

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Judge lowers bond for illegal alien tracked down by ICE after speaking to media

illegal

Why isn’t the illegal alien using his money to apply for citizenship? Does he purposely want to tear his family apart? Course he could return to his native Mexico and his family.

From Seattle Times: An immigration judge Thursday sharply reduced the bond for Baltazar Aburto Gutierrez, whose November detention by immigration-enforcement officials raised concern that he was being retaliated against for speaking to the news media.

Judge Charles McCullough set the bond at $5,000, down from $25,000. Aburto Gutierrez has money to pay and expects to do so Friday, said his lawyer, Stephen Robbins, after a courtroom hearing at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where Aburto Gutierrez is being held.

When the Mexican immigrant delivers the bond, he will be released and plans to return to his Pacific County home, Robbins said. “He’s very relieved and very happy,” the attorney said of his client.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested Gutierrez, 35, early on Nov. 27 as he was heading to Okie’s Thriftway Market in Ocean Park for coffee and eggs. Recounting the arrest by phone from the detention center last month, the shellfish worker said he had just gotten off work.

“You are the one from the newspaper,” he said an ICE officer told him after seeing Aburto Gutierrez drive in.

The Mexican native, who said he has lived in Pacific County for 15 years, concluded that ICE was retaliating against him for talking to The Seattle Times about the earlier arrest of his longtime girlfriend.

Aburto Gutierrez has no criminal record, an ICE arrest report provided by his attorney confirms.

In a phone call last week, Gov. Jay Inslee told acting ICE Director Thomas Homan he was worried about the “chilling effect on free speech.”

Homan, however, said retaliation was not the reason for Aburto Gutierrez’s arrest. ICE officers had met him in June as they arrested his girlfriend and turned over the couple’s children to his care, the acting director said. By November, officers realized the children had left for Mexico to be with their mother and no longer needed Aburto Gutierrez’s care, Homan said.

That information came in as a tip on Nov. 16, according to the ICE report, which makes no mention of the Nov. 9 Times story in which Aburto Gutierrez’s account of his girlfriend’s arrest appears. The story, about ramped-up ICE enforcement in Pacific County and its impact on Donald Trump voters and other locals, attracted international attention.

Soon after, two ICE officers set up “surveillance” at Okie’s, knowing that Aburto Gutierrez usually came to the store everyday between 7:30 and 8 a.m., according to the arrest report. They got their man at 7:50.

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Tacoma should spend $440,000 a year to defend residents facing deportation, task force says

amanda dias ups photo

Amanda Diaz: Wants to spend taxpayer dollars on illegal aliens/Photo from University of Puget Sound website

How about no.

From Seattle Times (by Candice Ruud): A task force created to focus on the needs of immigrants and refugees (aka illegal aliens) in Tacoma has recommended the City Council spend $440,000 per year to establish a legal-defense fund for Tacoma residents detained at the Northwest Detention Center.

The money would pay for two attorneys and two paralegals who would represent people facing deportation, said Amanda Diaz, a member of the task force and student president at the University of Puget Sound. Another option would be to spend half that money for one lawyer and paralegal to provide some measure of legal representation to detained people, Diaz said.

The recommendation comes seven months after the task force was created and at a time of heightened awareness over federal immigration policy. Stepped-up deportation efforts that have followed President Donald Trump’s inauguration have created emotional and financial strain for many Tacoma families, she said.

Unlike in criminal cases where defendants are represented by a publicly funded attorney if they can’t afford one, people facing deportation are not guaranteed a lawyer, according to the American Immigration Council. This year, the city of Seattle committed $1 million to paying for legal defense for immigrants and refugees, and officials there said they would seek ways to continue that funding in the future.

Members of a Tacoma City Council committee who received the task force’s recommendation this month were receptive to the idea but not ready to implement it. They requested more information from the task force and city staff about how the money would be spent.

“This is coming to us a little less fleshed out than we normally have policies coming to us. Normally we have a lot more of these questions answered,” Councilman Marty Campbell said. “I think we should do this, but first let’s explore it and figure out how.”

An attorney for the Tacoma office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project told members of the council’s Community Vitality and Safety Committee that the need for legal representation for detainees at the Northwest Detention Center is pressing.

Having access to a lawyer throughout the legal process would improve their chances of not being deported and keep their families intact, attorney Tim Warden-Hertz said.

Each year, 50 to 100 Tacoma residents are detained at the Northwest Detention Center, he said.

“Enforcement has changed — enforcement year over year has increased 40 percent over last year for people in the Northwest, for people in our area,” Warden-Hertz said. “That’s what has changed and that’s what this administration has meant for families in Tacoma — it’s meant more families being torn apart. That’s why I think this feels so important right now.”

Diaz said there are other downsides to increased deportation efforts.

“There has been a decrease in reporting crimes by immigrants for fear of (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids. There have been parents scared to drop off their kids at school for fear of ICE involvement in government buildings,” she said. “Various members of the task force have identified families left homeless because the main breadwinner is being detained at the Northwest Detention Center. Children are entering the foster-care system because one or both of their parents are detained.”

Most members of the Vitality and Safety committee agreed there is a need for a legal-defense fund for immigrants, but they also said there are needs for other corners of Tacoma’s population, such as those facing eviction proceedings.

Task-force members also recommended that the city create a standing commission on immigration and refugee affairs that would deal with issues unique to that community.

They also asked the City Council to take immediate steps to provide equitable language access for a variety of languages across all city services. Access to language and translation services was identified last year as a major barrier for Latino residents working to integrate into Tacoma life, council members pointed out.

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Hundreds of immigrant detainees at Tacoma ICE facility on hunger strike, activists say

concerned face

From Seattle Times: As many as 400 immigrant detainees at the Northwest Detention Center have refused meals for a second day, according to activists, while federal immigration officials prepare to invoke a hunger-strike protocol that could result in forced treatment of inmates who continue to refuse nourishment.

A group of immigration and Latino activists rallied outside the Tacoma detention facility for the second night while inside they said hundreds of detainees facing deportation have refused to eat. Some of those with jobs inside the privately run facility have stopped working, said Maru Mora Villalpando with the group NWDC Resist, an anti-detention group led by undocumented immigrants illegal aliens inside the detention center.

On Monday, the group presented the detention center with a written list of demands, mostly involving living conditions in the detention center, including the quality of food, access to medical care and lowering of commissary prices.

What began with a handful of protesters has turned into a hunger strike involving hundreds of detainees, Villalpando said Tuesday. “So far, so good,” she said. She said the estimated number of participants has been determined through telephone and email contacts with detainees throughout the facility.

The detention center, operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through a private contractor, GEO Group, contains more than 1,500 detainees.

Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for ICE, has referred to the protest as a “meal refusal involving a number of detainees who have chosen not to eat meals provided by the cafeteria.” Some continue to eat food purchased from the commissary, she said.

Richeson said Tuesday that the “number of detainees refusing prepared meals at the NWDC continues to decline.”

So far, she said, “none of the detainees has missed a sufficient number of meals to be considered on a hunger strike.”

Those who have refused any food are being monitored. Once they have gone 72 hours without food — sometime Wednesday for those who began the strike Monday — the agency will initiate a hunger-strike protocol that will allow the detainees to be referred to the medical department for monitoring “and possible treatment.”

“Individuals on a hunger strike will continue to be offered three meals daily and provided with an adequate supply of drinking water and other beverages. They will also be counseled about the related medical risks,” according to Richeson.

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Washington state trooper is under review for calling immigration authorities about a previously-deported illegal alien with a felony charge in his background

jay inslee

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee – making a political statement?

Keep it up demorats.

From News Tribune: A Tacoma lawmaker wants to know why the Washington State Patrol is reviewing the actions of a trooper who called federal immigration authorities about a man living in the country illegally.

State Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma, sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday “to express serious concerns” that an administrative review is underway after a trooper contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a man involved a Feb. 9 traffic accident on Interstate 5 in Tacoma.

The man, Armando Chavez Corona, was convicted of a felony drug charge and was deported four times from the United States between 1996 and 2000, ICE officials said.

Chavez Corona didn’t cause the crash on I-5. But when a trooper completed a routine check of Chavez Corona’s driver’s license, a warning popped up from ICE, saying Chavez Corona was a previously deported felon and to contact the federal agency for confirmation, said State Patrol spokesman Kyle Moore.

After the trooper contacted federal officials to confirm details of the warning, federal immigration officials came to the crash scene and took Chavez Corona into custody. As of Wednesday, he was awaiting deportation, ICE officials said.

The State Patrol is reviewing whether the trooper followed an internal policy that limits how much troopers can do to help federal immigration officials.

In his letter Friday, O’Ban called the review into the trooper’s actions “puzzling, if not deeply concerning.”

“I fear launching an administrative review of this routine and common-sense procedure sends a chilling message to WSP troopers and to other law enforcement personnel that undermines public safety by discouraging officers from gaining potentially vital information from federal authorities,” O’Ban wrote.

Moore said administrative reviews are commonplace at the State Patrol. The trooper involved hasn’t been placed on leave or disciplined in any way, he said. “This is just a routine review of whether this trooper followed our policies,” Moore said Friday.

According to the agency, “The Washington State Patrol has a policy to not stop, detain or interrogate or place an immigration hold on any person solely for the purpose of ascertaining immigration status or in any other way attempt to enforce federal immigration laws.”

Moore said troopers never arrested Chavez Corona or detained him for longer than it took to clear the scene of the accident. The information the trooper received about Chavez Corona did not constitute a warrant calling for his arrest, Moore added.

The governor’s office confirmed it had received O’Ban’s letter but declined to comment on it. The letter concludes by asking Inslee whether he ordered the review and what specific circumstances warranted that scrutiny. It also asks the governor if it is appropriate for law enforcement officers to ignore a warrant from federal authorities, and “how does that contribute to the public safety or safety of officers?”

In a phone interview Friday, O’Ban said he worries the governor’s office is seizing upon immigration-related incidents in the state to make a political statement. In recent weeks, Inslee has been a vocal critic of the immigration policies promoted by Republican President Donald Trump. “I’m concerned that this investigation is motivated at least in part by the governor nationalizing this issue, when it shouldn’t be,” O’Ban said.

Meanwhile, Grace Chavez, the U.S.-born wife of Chavez Corona, said she is considering legal action against the State Patrol.

Reached by phone Friday, she said she was heading to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma to visit her husband. The couple has three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens, she said. “They violated our rights,” Grace Chavez said. “He was the victim of the accident.”

She said she is waiting to hear more details about when her husband is scheduled for deportation. “I’m hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,” she said.

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