Tag Archives: Tacoma

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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Washington State Amtrak Derailment: Officials expedited new rail line to capture federal money

amtrack derailment

On Monday, an Amtrak train derailed in Washington state killing 3 people and injuring over 70. About the incident, from NPR:

The train, identified by Amtrak as the high-speed Train 501 from Seattle to Portland, was carrying 77 passengers and seven crew members when it derailed above Interstate 5 just after 7:30 a.m. local time. All but one of its cars and engines jumped the tracks, and at least one fell to the roadway below.

MultiCare Health System, a local network of medical centers, says that 22 people involved in the crash have been hospitalized at three of its facilities. Five patients have also been sent to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, two of whom are in critical condition. Multiple other medical centers have reported receiving patients from the crash.

A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol said there were an additional 23 injuries total, 10 in serious condition, four with moderate injuries and nine with minor injuries.

It remains unclear what caused the crash. But the train had never used the route it took Monday — as NPR’s Martin Kaste notes, Monday marked its inaugural trip on a more inland route than usual.

Turns out we know the major factor for the crash: According to the NTSB, the train was going 50 mph over the posted speed limit.

Turns out there may be another factor for the crash: Rushed implementation to achieve federal dollars. NTSB hasn’t commented on that factor yet. Their final accident report won’t be released for months, maybe even a year.

Hanna Scott reports for MyNorthwest.com that the new rail line connected to Monday’s deadly train derailment opened much earlier than originally planned, and before a key safety system was operational.

State transportation officials originally planned to have the corridor refurbished in 2019, but in order to get federal stimulus money for the project, construction had to be done by mid-2017. So officials set a new deadline.

The Seattle Times uncovered documents from 2016, where Sound Transit described the project as being under a “very aggressive schedule” and that even a one-month delay would have impacts. Other officials had previously said they expected the train’s safety system — Positive Train Control — to be operational before the new line started. (This train was not using the Congress-mandated safety technology on that stretch of track that possibly could have prevented the disaster.)

Instead, it met that more aggressive deadline and started running several months before Sound Transit planned to have the safety system operational.

The train was traveling at approximately 80 mph Monday morning as it entered a curve that should have been taken at about 30 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The majority of the train cars derailed, killing three and injuring more than 70.

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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.

DCG

Chick-fil-A announces two more Seattle-area locations

chick fil a lynnwood

People camped out for the opening of the Lynnwood Chick-Fil-A

Liberals hardest hit.

From Seattle Times: The extremely popular (and sometimes controversial) Chick-fil-A chain has announced plans for two new Seattle-area branches: Bothell and Federal Way (exact locations TBA). Kirkland and Puyallup are still slated to get their own outlets for the fast-food fried-chicken-sandwich in 2017 as well. The company had promised an announcement of four to five more Washington branches at the beginning of this year, but no word on any others yet (nor on opening dates for the ones in the works).

The Bellevue franchise of Chick-fil-A opened to camping-out crowds (and subsequent traffic problems) in the spring of 2015, with Tacoma, Lynnwood, and Vancouver, Washington, branches following.

And the obligatory anti-Chick-fil-A statement from the liberal Seattle Times:

If you’re interested in exploring other options, here are four great local fried-chicken sandwiches that aren’t Chick-fil-A. And here’s one more that might just be the best around.

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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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North Kitsap school district blasts teacher’s Facebook comments

First Amendment applies here. Yet we also have the same right to offer opinions of those who disparage the men and women who put their lives on the line for the public. They would be the ones rushing to any school if a deranged shooter was present.

Fallen Officer Jake Gutierrez

Fallen Officer Jake Gutierrez

From Kitsap Sun: A Kingston High School teacher’s Facebook comments on a thread about a fallen police officer have been denounced by North Kitsap School District.

Kim Smith weighed in on a Dec. 9 post by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office honoring Tacoma Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, who was fatally shot Nov. 30 while responding to a domestic dispute. A video on the post showed a long line of law enforcement vehicles ready for a procession before the memorial for Gutierrez, who was a Kitsap County resident.

“I hate this stupid display of the police,” Smith wrote. “If we’re going to do this for cops, we should do it for those they murder. It’s obscene.”

Smith’s comment unleashed a backlash of livid responses. Although Smith did not initially identify herself as a teacher, others did. “This was the wrong time and place … to post such disrespect for those who might save your life someday … as a teacher? Shame on you,” wrote one commenter.

“How do you sleep at night? This is a heartbreaking comment,” wrote another commenter. “How would you feel if someone said something like this after Sandy Hook?” Others piled on to shame Smith, some calling for her dismissal.

Superintendent Patty Page

Superintendent Patty Page

On Thursday, Superintendent Patty Page posted a statement distancing the district from Smith —without naming her  — and from the rampant, two-way vitriol that persisted through the week. “On behalf of the North Kitsap School District, please be advised that the district strongly disagrees with and condemns the personal comments posted by a district teacher regarding the tragic death of Tacoma Police Officer Jake Gutierrez,” Page said. “The district has not authorized, approved or encouraged the teacher’s comments.”

Page said North Kitsap had received complaints and is reviewing them under the school board’s policy on “complaints concerning staff or programs.” The policy cites state law outlining a teacher’s right to due process and appeal before any “adverse change in contract status.” Page would not say what actions if any the district is considering. “At this point I am not commenting on action, as I am considering it a personal matter,” Page said. “I believe my post reflects my position.”

School districts don’t typically jump into the fray on social media, even when they are directly or indirectly the subject of discussion. Page said North Kitsap has had social media issues in the past, but every situation is different. She acknowledged this situation is a first. “We have not publicly weighed in as a district other than to correct misinformation in the past,” Page said.

Teachers union president Mike McCorkle said he met with Smith Friday morning to discuss the issue. McCorkle said there is nothing in the contract that speaks to statements or public positions teachers take outside the classroom. “We want to protect our teachers’ due process to have a private life and have private opinions,” he said.

McCorkle had no comment on the district’s statement but said he understood its position. “We want a balanced approach, and we can understand why the district has to do it’s due diligence in looking into the matter,” McCorkle said.

Some commenters expressed concern that Smith would present a one-sided viewpoint in the classroom. The contract does speak to “academic freedom” within which teachers are called on to present a “balanced point of view,” McCorkle said.

McCorkle said Smith teaches a class on “ancient civilizations” and he understood from her “this is not something she would talk about in her classroom.”

Sheriff Gary Simpson

Sheriff Gary Simpson

Sheriff Gary Simpson on Thursday stepped in on the Facebook post and ensuing comments. Simpson encourages dialog and constructive criticism, “but I’m not interested in the continuation of bantering and personal agendas associated with those who use this venue for such matters.

“A personal perspective is one thing, while petty character and opinion exchanges are another… and they’re not appropriate for this page,” he said. “If readers want to talk about specific issues with a goal of improving public safety and the quality of life in Kitsap County, then let’s get together and do just that. However arguing on a social media site gets nowhere and is unproductive.”

Simpson told readers to take the debate elsewhere, and he said further postings on the thread would be removed. “People have said their piece… it’s time to move on,” he said.

Smith has been a teacher for 15 years, 10 at Kingston High, according to her webpage on the school’s site.

DCG