Tacoma, WA - A Washington State Patrol Trooper is the focus of an investigation because he notified ICE about a criminal illegal immigrant, just as she had been trained to.
According to Q13 Fox, the incident began on February 9th when the Trooper, who was not identified, did a routine check of a driver's license during a traffic crash on I-5. That driver's license belonged to Armando Chavez Corona, whose car was hit during a multi-vehicle collision.
When Corona's driver's license was checked, which is standard procedure for officers to do when investigating car crashes, a warning came back from federal authorities that Corona was a deported felon, and that he was wanted for an outstanding felony warrant. The warning asked that federal agents be contacted if Corona was located.
Before you read on, it should be emphasized that this was not just a notification that the subject was an illegal immigrant, it was a notification that this was a criminal felon who is at the top of the priority list for being arrested and deported. These notifications have been around and acted upon for very many years; they are not new. Our Washington State law enforcement sources advised that they had never even heard of any agency failing to take action on these notifications.
The Washington State Trooper then contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to confirm the warning, as she had been trained to do. ICE agents later took Corona into custody. Further research showed that Corona had been deported four times, between 1996 and 2000, and had previously been convicted on a felony cocaine charge.
The Washington State Patrol then began an investigation to see if it followed its own policies. Our sources within the Washington State Patrol have confirmed that the agency has no official policy on how to handle notifications on deported felons, but Troopers are appropriately trained to call ICE.
The closest policy that addresses the situation states:
Officers shall not stop, detain, interrogate, or place an immigration hold on any person solely for the purpose of ascertaining immigration status or in any other way attempt to enforce federal immigration laws.
If an individual is arrested for a criminal violation, officers may notify the Immigration Services office if the officer has a reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts—other than a person's nationality, name, or ability to communicate in English—that the person arrested is an undocumented or illegal alien.
The trooper did not arrest or detain Corona. He only notified federal agents after receiving the deported felon warning and notification of the outstanding warrant. The Trooper was not responsible for the ICE agents who showed up later and took Corona into custody.
Upon learning of the WSP investigation, Washington State Senator Steve O'Ban, R-Tacoma, immediately sent a letter to Democratic Governor Jay Inslee, where he expressed "serious concerns" about the investigation, according to Breitbart. Senator O'Ban said “I’m concerned that this investigation is motivated at least in part by the governor nationalizing this issue, when it shouldn’t be."
He also said "checking on a felony notification of a convicted felon here illegally should not subject a trooper to an administrative investigation. The State Patrol needs to know its officers are going to be supported when they’re doing their job.”
The Washington Governor's Office confirmed that a review of the Trooper's actions was ongoing. In a statement, the Governor's Office said that "the governor takes very seriously the need to make sure all residents of Washington feel safe in their interactions with the men and women in our State Patrol, particularly given the anxiety that many in our state are feeling right now."
We would like to commend Senator Steve O'Ban for supporting this Trooper, who is unable to speak for himself without violating a gag order.
Do you think that this trooper is being unfairly used as a scapegoat by his agency? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the poll below or on our Facebook page.