Court order allows deportation flights to resume at county airport in Seattle after ban

May 12, 2023, 9:14 AM | Updated: 9:23 am

immigration, Boeing Field, ICE...

Boeing Field in June 2019. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

A court order is allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to once again fly detainees in and out of a county-owned Seattle airport.

In 2019, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an executive order that generally prohibited deportation flights at King County International Airport, more commonly known as Boeing Field. In announcing the policy change, Constantine said the county didn’t want to see the publicly owned airport used for the wholesale deportation of immigrant detainees.

Immigration officials were then forced to transport detainees to and from the Yakima airport via bus, which placed the detainees and ICE agents at risk, federal officials said at the time. Yakima is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southeast of Seattle.

The reported on Wednesday.

The order, issued earlier this year, says King County’s decision to not allow deportation flights to land at Boeing Field “discriminates against the federal government because other users of the airport are not subject to the limitations found in the Executive Order.”

Three deportation flights have occurred this month, but the number of immigrants on the flights out of Boeing Field isn’t clear. King County officials said ICE is requiring that they submit a Freedom of Information Act request to get those details.

King County officials said they will update the airport’s webpage each month on the 15th, starting this month, with information that is available about the deportation flights.

“King County remains dedicated to safeguarding the public’s right to total transparency regarding any federal actions at our airport that violate our values,” Constantine said in a statement. “We will continue our longstanding commitment to creating a welcoming community that respects the rights of all people.”

Constantine first pledged to shut down ICE air flights in 2018. A report from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights in 2019 revealed that 34,400 detainees had been deported from Boeing Field in the previous eight years.

In a statement, David Yost, an ICE spokesperson, said as of May 8, more than 500 people were detained at the privately run, for-profit Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma.

The agency also said it’s “committed to ensuring that all those in the agency’s custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments under appropriate conditions of confinement.”

“Detained noncitizens in transit from one facility to another institution or jurisdiction will be transported in a safe and humane manner under the supervision of trained and experienced personnel,” Yost said.

John Parrott, Boeing Field’s director, said the county is allowing activists opposed to ICE’s deportation and detention system to partially observe the flights.

“We are using the airport’s video system to provide a live view of a portion of the ramp,” Parrott told KNKX.

Activists said they are unable to see those detained from the airport’s observation room. Maru Mora Villalpando, an activist with the group La Resistencia, said more transparency is needed so her group can provide support to immigrants.

“We need them to know that there’s a group that is supporting them, that is fighting to end detentions and deportations. That is the most critical part of our work. And when the county claims that there’s transparency, and they’re collaborating and partnering with us, it doesn’t seem like it,” she said.



FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

1 day ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

1 day ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

2 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

2 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Hundreds of Amazon workers protest company’s climate impact, return-to-office mandate

SEATTLE (AP) — Telling executives to “strive harder,” hundreds of corporate Amazon workers protested what they decried as the company’s lack of progress on climate goals and an inequitable return-to-office mandate during a lunchtime demonstration at its Seattle headquarters Wednesday. The protest came a week after Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting and a month after a […]

3 days ago


Associated Press

Body of avalanche victim in Washington state recovered after being spotted by volunteer

Search crews have recovered the body of a climber who was one of three killed in an avalanche on Washington's Colchuck Peak in February.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Court order allows deportation flights to resume at county airport in Seattle after ban