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County execs: Trump immigration shaming is a ‘bully tactic’

Foreign nationals were arrested during the week of February 6, 2017, during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. (Credit: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs)

EVERETT, Wa. — The Trump administration is publicly calling out Snohomish and King counties, among others, for resisting calls to hand over undocumented immigrants.

The president recently ordered the Department of Homeland Security to release the names of cities and counties that don’t play ball.

This airing of grievances is part of a presidential executive order meant to put pressure on local agencies to pass arrested immigrants onto Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE.

Snohomish County is being called one of the top five “non-cooperative jurisdictions” in this first weekly report from ICE. Homeland Security says the county denied twelve requests to detain immigrants.

But the counties in our Washington say they can’t hand over the targets of immigrant detainers - even if they wanted to.

They’re following a district court ruling that bars these jail detainers unless ICE has a warrant.

Snohomish County feels it’s boxed in - called out by the president, but stopped from doing what he wants. Council Chairman Brian Sullivan believes the White House doesn’t understand the law on this one.

“This shaming in the face of court rulings is almost a bully tactic and I think it’s unfortunate, because we want to work with our federal agencies and vice versa,” Sullivan said.

Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary chimed in too, blasting ICE and its acting director Thomas Homan for saying the counties and cities “undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety.”

“That is simply untrue,” Trenary wrote in a statement. “This unsubstantiated claim is offensive to me and the communities that I and the men and women of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office proudly serve.”

King County was also on the list for the same reasons.

King County Executive Dow Constantine was defiant in saying if ICE or any other federal agency wants to sweep up undocumented immigrants, it’s on them to follow the law and get a warrant from a judge.

Constantine insists King County won’t just hand people over simply for being undocumented.

“Holding people in our jail, when a judge has not ordered that to happen, is unconstitutional," he said. "It violates the Fourth Amendment. And we can’t really tolerate that kind of erosion of our constitutional protections in this country, resident or not."

Sullivan swiped at recent losses in court for the White House as well, full well knowing that the weekly release of these reports will keep coming.

“The Trump administration quite frankly has a habit of ignoring the rule of law,” Sullivan said with a smile.