Seattle, WA – King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered companies who fuel planes at King County International Airport to stop servicing planes used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or they will lose county contracts.
Over 34,000 illegal immigrants have been removed from the United States through the King County International Airport over the past eight years, The Seattle Times reported.
The airport, which is also known as Boeing Field, also receives inmates being sent to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
But on April 23, Constantine signed an order aimed at banning ICE flights at the King County airport, The Seattle Times reported.
“We are hoping to be leading the way,” King County Executive and Chief of Staff Rachel Smith said at the time.
The executive order requires county officials to rework upcoming leases with three companies who service charger flights and operate out of rented space at the airport.
The contract changes would prohibit the companies from servicing planes that transport illegal immigrants, and companies who refuse to comply will not receive county contracts.
“Deportations raise deeply troubling human rights concerns which are inconsistent with the values of King County, including separations of families, increases of racial disproportionality in policing, deportations of people into unsafe situations in other countries, and constitutional concerns of due process,” the executive order read.
The airport sits on land given to the county by the federal government on the condition that federal aircraft be allowed to use the facility.
King County International Airport Director John Parrott claimed that Constantine’s executive order doesn’t violate that stipulation, because the flights are operated by charter companies, not the federal government.
But the airport has also received $21 million in federal grants since 2012 on the condition that the federal government be allowed to use the airport, FOX News reported.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) General Counsel Steven Bradbury reminded Constantine of the airports’ obligation in a recent letter.
Bradbury also noted that the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act “specifically bars local governments from prohibiting or restricting particular types of air transportation,” and argued that the executive order violates federal law.
“This is taking it to a new level,” Federation for American Immigration Reform spokeswoman Ira Mehlman told FOX News. “Sanctuary policies say that the local jurisdiction won’t cooperate with ICE. Here, [Constantine] is taking it a step further and blacklisting companies that do business with ICE. This crosses the line probably into obstruction of justice.”
Thanks to the executive order, ICE now has to transport detainees to the Yakima Airport three hours away. Inmates only had to travel for approximately 40 minutes when ICE was flying them out of the King County airport.
“State and local efforts thwarting ICE operations serve only to create additional security concerns and add significant delays and costs to U.S. taxpayers," ICE Acting Field Operations Director Bryan Wilcox said.