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King County airport will begin banning ICE detainee flights

King County International Airport will start banning flights from Immigration and Customs Enforcement used to move detainees.

“Here in King County, we are a welcoming community that respects the rights of all people,” King County Executive Dow Constantine. “My executive order seeks to make sure all those who do business with King County uphold the same values. Our goal is to ban flights of immigrant detainees from our publicly-owned airport, and I hope members of Congress shine a light on this practice and how it is currently funded.”

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King County International Airport is more commonly referred to as Boeing Field and is located in South Seattle. Constantine’s office notes that the county realized that the airport was being used by ICE to transport immigrant detainees in June 2018.

The county has limited options when it comes to enforcing its ban on transporting ICE detainees. ICE or private contractors do not have to file passenger manifests or flight schedules with the county. And county officials cannot board planes for inspection. Constantine’s executive order amends lease practices “with the goal of banning flights of immigration detainees.”

Future contracts will include a new requirement that companies and organizations which lease hangars and airport facilities must comply with the county’s human rights and immigration ordinances. Such regulations state that the county does not help with immigration enforcement (unless it receives a court order).

There are eight specific points to Constantine’s order:

  1. Take steps to minimize King County’s cooperation with the transportation of immigration detainees.
  2. Work with Congress to develop laws addressing deportation practices that contribute to human rights abuses.
  3. “Ensure that all future leases, operating permits and other authorizations for commercial activity at King County International Airport contain a prohibition against providing aeronautical or non-aeronautical services to enterprises engaged in the business of deporting immigration detainees (except federal government aircraft), to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”
  4. The county will develop procedures to ensure contractors comply with laws around human trafficking and county policies.
  5. Revise airport standards, and develop rules for operating permits for charter carriers and reporting responsibilities with “respect to human trafficking and immigration detainee deportation activities.”
  6. Make amendments to existing code.
  7. Install security cameras around the airfield and nearby ramps.
  8. Quarterly updates detailing progress toward goals in the executive order.

Constantine’s order does not affect Sea-Tac Airport.

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