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King County Jail, Human Roulette, ICE, criminal justice
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King County Jail refused to comply with 370 ICE holds from 2015-17

King County Jail. (KIRO 7)

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, between September 2015 and December 2017, the King County Jail refused to cooperate with 370 ICE holds for immigrants who were serving time for crimes.

Bryan Wilcox, acting field director for the Seattle ICE office, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that nearly 300 of the holds were for crimes that ICE classifies as serious, such as murder, rape, assault, and burglary.

“They chose to have no communication with ICE at all and they released these individuals, these criminal aliens right back into the same community that they were arrested in, among the people [whom] they victimized,” he said.

Under normal circumstances, a jail would notify ICE when an illegal immigrant is due to be released; then ICE would pick the person up and detain them until an immigration hearing could be held.

RELATED: ICE representative says agency aims to detain criminals, not law-abiding immigrants

However, King County is a sanctuary county, meaning that jails and law enforcement departments are instructed not to work with ICE on deportations.

“Up until about 2010, every jail in the state cooperated with us, including the King County Jail,” Wilcox said. “But there was a trend, beginning in 2010 through 2014, to not cooperate with us.”

Some of the 370 immigration holds were for immigrants who were in the country legally, but the severity of their crimes disqualified them from being permitted to stay in the U.S.

A recent case in which Wilcox said that ICE could have intervened was that of Francisco Carranza-Ramirez. Carranza-Ramirez twice raped a young White Center mother in a wheelchair last fall, but was released last month on the condition that he would return to Mexico. Before leaving the country, he returned to his victim’s house and allegedly violently assaulted her.

Now he is back in Mexico and unlikely to be extradited for his alleged crimes.

Danger can also be caused when ICE agents must go out onto the streets to find immigrants released from jails, instead of locating them at the jails. On the streets, Wilcox said, there is always the chance that there will be a struggle, and that innocent bystanders could be harmed.

“That danger could be totally eliminated through at least the minimal cooperation of the jails, of letting us know when these people are going to be released,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said that the vilification of ICE agents that seems to be a trend in society has been hard on his office’s morale, but has only served to bring employees closer together and increase their determination to carry out their duties.

“They’re doing their jobs — they’re doing what the law requires them to do,” he said.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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