SEATTLE — The King County Council is considering a new ordinance that would protect certain immigrants from being held in jail solely for possible deportation by federal authorities.Councilman Larry Gossett is proposing a new rule that would keep the Immigration and Customs Service, or ICE, from detaining illegal immigrants who have committed minor crimes or haven’t been charged by prosecutors.
“The perception right now is that local law enforcement is tied into immigration enforcement and that’s because of the jail that turns them over to ICE,” said Jorge Baron with The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Right now, immigrants at the King County Jail can be detained up to 90 days while ICE investigates. Supporters of the new ordinance says that can lead to distrust of the police, and make immigrants less likely to report a crime.
Craig Keller, with the website RespectWashington.us, which speaks out against illegal immigration, said that is the price to be paid for being in the country illegally, especially if the undocumented workers are committing crimes.
“It’s all part of the symptoms and not the disease,” said Keller. “The disease is the deliberate breaking of the system and destruction of the law, whether it be local or nationally, and ICE deserves the full cooperation of local law enforcement.”