Justice Department Sues King County for Banning ICE from Boeing Field

If the state of Washington is ever overrun by alien criminals, they will have richly deserved it. All that they needed to do was sit and do nothing, and ICE Air Operations would have continued to transport illegal aliens to and from the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center by way of King County International Airport, a.k.a Boeing Field.

ICE Air Operations uses private air charter services to facilitate the work of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, which is responsible for identifying, arresting and removing persons who violate U.S. immigration law. Until May, ICE Air was using Boeing Field, five miles south of downtown Seattle, to return illegal aliens to their home countries, while bringing others from around the country to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

ICE Air in Washington
King County International Airport – Boeing Field
Tacoma Northwest Detention Center
Yakima Air Terminal – McAllister Field

The Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington

Those activities continued without publicity until April of this year, when a study was published by the UW Center for Human Rights revealing that since 2010, some 34,400 “passengers” departed Boeing Field on 466 deportation flights.

The useful idiots were scandalized by the fact that private companies profit from operating the deportation machine, as if the world should be filled with academics producing nothing but research papers criticizing the system that made their easy lives possible. Since 2018, Classic Air Charter has been responsible for arranging the bulk of ICE Air flights at Boeing Field. Classic Air Charter subcontracts with other private companies — the most frequently used are Swift Air and World Atlantic Airlines.

Enhancing the sense of “scandal”, it was pointed out that back in February 2018, the King County Council had passed an ordinance called “Enhancing Trust and Fairness for King County Immigrant Communities”, which limits the collaboration of county officials with federal immigration enforcement.

King County International Airport circumvents their obligation to serve the federal government

King County Executive Dow Constantine responded by signing an executive order that would over time ban ICE Air flights from Boeing Field. The order was signed on April 23, a day before an event planned by the UW Center for Human Rights to explain their findings.

The land that Boeing Field sits on was given to King County by the federal government, and the grant stipulated that federal aircraft would be allowed to use the airport. The King County Executive dealt with this “problem” by directing county officials to rewrite future leases with the three fixed-base operators that rent space at the airport. These companies provide services such as fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, and aircraft maintenance. Future contracts with fixed-base operators will prohibit them from servicing flights transporting immigrant detainees.

A week later, Modern Aviation, one of the three fixed-base operators at King County International Airport, notified the county that it would stop servicing ICE Air charter flights. Airport director John Parrott said the other two, Signature Flight Support and Kenmore Aero Services, would not take over those responsibilities from Modern Aviation.

ICE Air has moved operations to Yakima Air Terminal-McAllister Field

In May, following King County’s move to stop servicing ICE Air, after having been turned down by cities like Everett, Bellingham, and Portland, ICE chose Yakima Air Terminal-McAllister Field to replace Boeing Field. Observers from something called the Yakima Immigrant Response Network report that since then, as of September 30, over 2,500 ICE detainees were transferred through McAllister Field.

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are said to be looking to move Yakima flights back to King County. ICE Air can't transport as many people through Yakima as they can using Boeing Field, given the distance between Yakima and Tacoma and the extra cost involved. As winter approaches, concerns grow over the need to travel with passengers over mountainous terrain.

Update: Department of Justice sues King County

On February 10, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was suing King County over its refusal to allow ICE Air to use King County International Airport as a terminal for flights arranged to remove individuals from the United States or to transport immigration detainees within the country.

The lawsuit challenges Dow Constantine's Executive Order as unlawful under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the Constitution and federal laws made pursuant to it constitute the “supreme law of the land”. The DoJ asserts the Executive Order (EO) obstructs and burdens federal activities, discriminates against federal contractors, and is expressly preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act, which prohibits localities such as King County from enacting or enforcing laws or regulations that relate to prices, routes, or services of air carriers.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the EO.

Former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna explained to KIRO Radio in Seattle two additional aspects to the federal government's case that work to its advantage. First, there exist aviation provisions that prohibit the county from limiting federal government access to the airport. Moreover, the 72-year-old agreement between the federal government and King County provides unfettered access to Boeing Field.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.