House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable'

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Liberal House Democrats urge Schumer to stick to infrastructure ultimatum MORE (D-Wash.) is praising a county in Washington state for vowing to stop serving flights carrying immigrant detainees being deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“We have to hold a lawless administration accountable for some of the things that they are asking localities to do that undermine public safety,” Jayapal told Hill.TV during an interview Wednesday. “Jurisdictions also have responsibility to their citizens and these kinds of policies do not help local jurisdictions.”

Jayapal’s comments come after King County Executive Dow Constantine (D) issued an executive order directing King County Airport in Seattle to revise its lease practices to ban flights of immigration detainees chartered by ICE.

Constantine noted in announcing the move last month that county officials in June 2018 first became aware of ICE using King County's Boeing Field to transport immigrant detainees through charter aircraft. Since that time, he said, county officials have been reviewing the airport’s operations.

According to Constantine's order, future charter contracts will need to comply with the county’s human rights and immigration ordinances.

“Here in King County, we are a welcoming community that respects the rights of all people,” Constantine said in a statement. “My Executive Order seeks to make sure all those who do business with King County uphold the same values.”

More than 34,000 people have been deported through the county’s international airport over the past eight years, according to a report by the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, citing data from December 2018.

Federal officials and conservatives have criticized King County, saying it is preventing potentially criminal immigrants from being deported.

Jayapal pushed back against that criticism, saying the majority of immigrants in custody are not criminals.

“The majority of people in ICE detention are not criminals, there is no prioritization under this administration and we are spending enormous taxpayer dollars to vilify immigrants across the country,” she told Hill.TV.

—Tess Bonn