Suspicious Minds: ICE detainees at the Cowlitz County Youth Services Center

Longview, Washington is a city of about 37,000. Longview sits on the northern bank of the Columbia River and is the largest city in Cowlitz County, at the southwest corner of the state of Washington.

Longview is home to the Cowlitz County Youth Services Center (CCYSC) of the Superior Court of Washington. The CCYSC has three main functions: Courtroom, probation offices and detention. They also hold alien minors on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

According to The Daily of the University of Washington, the Cowlitz County youth detention center is one of only three detention facilities that hold migrant youths for more than 72 hours. The other two are the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility juvenile division, and the Abraxas Academy in Pennsylvania. Unaccompanied minors are customarily turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.

The Columbian, headquartered in Vancouver, WA, adds that since 2001, the CCYSC has held juveniles determined to be a safety risk, while they go through immigration court proceedings. The Columbian reports in the name of ICE that the juveniles pose public safety risks, and some face charges for murder or child molestation.

NBC Right Now, which broadcasts out of Kennewick, WA, reports in the name of ICE that CCYSC detainees include “List 1” juveniles, meaning they have criminal or violent backgrounds, ongoing criminal proceedings, and histories of disruptive behavior.

The request for information from Cowlitz County

The Henry Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington (UW) has what's named a Center for Human Rights. One of their projects is called Human Rights at Home, which is focused on what they loosely describe as “immigrants”. The director of the UW Center for Human Rights is a person who has been granted the title of “professor” called Angelina Godoy.

In 2018, the Center for Human Rights discovered that the CCYSC was detaining illegal immigrant youths on behalf of ICE. As the dark, suspicious minds at UW perceive life, people who enter the U.S. illegally after leaving places ridden with gang warfare are the nice, good people, and evil, mean people rule the very country that people from violence-stricken places trek though deserts and mountains in order to reach.

Angelina Godoy requested from Cowlitz County records of detainees held at the Youth Services Center under contract with ICE from 2015 to 2018. She contended that holding the minors secretly, without public knowledge of the legal grounds for their arrest and detention, violates their rights.

The county initially agreed to release the documents, but ICE blocked the request, citing a federal law prohibiting the release of information pertaining to detained persons.

In February 2019, the county filed a motion in state court for a declaratory judgment, in which a court determines the rights of the disputing parties without ordering any action or awarding any damages, to determine whether it can lawfully release the information.

ICE intervenes at the Clark County Superior Court

On November 21, U.S. Department of Justice attorney Alexis Echols told a Clark County Superior Court judge that the matter involves property rights of the United States, since the records in question belong to ICE. As reported by The Columbian, Echols explained that the records concern very sensitive private information, including the minors' criminal history, their photo IDs, medical information, transfer paperwork and immigration detainers.

According to court filings, ICE claimed that federal regulations give it sole authority over the documents, while Angelina Godoy and the county argued that Washington University is a public agency which is entitled to the records for research purposes.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Susan Clark agreed to allow ICE to intervene in the case and set the next hearing for January 15, 2020.

The case is transferred to the U.S. District Court in Seattle

That hearing was never held, because on December 30, the U.S. government moved the case to the U.S. District Court in Seattle. A week later, federal lawyers asked the federal judge to block the records from release.

As reported by NBC Right Now, the University of Washington argues that ICE lacks standing to move the case to federal court because it joined the case as a plaintiff, not as a defendant. The UW filed a motion in January asking the U.S. District Court to return the case to Cowlitz County.

An affidavit written by an ICE officer says the documents contain personally identifiable information [concerning both the minors and third parties], medical information, detainers, and law enforcement sensitive information. Releasing those files may reveal sensitive details about criminal and national security investigations and methods.

But the human rights activist at the University of Washington is sure that poor, harmless little children are being mistreated by the mean people representing authority, and she wants to get to the bottom of this.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.