In the face of an unprecedented dragnet to round up and deport noncitizens during the Trump Administration, Washington communities rallied to motivate our legislature and Governor to take equally unprecedented steps to push back and provide some measure of safety to noncitizens and communities here. WDA was honored to play a key role in these efforts which resulted in two landmark victories that provided a road map for other states.
In 2019 the advocacy coalition successfully advocated for the passage of the Keep Washington Working Act. The Act put in place ground-breaking restrictions prohibiting local law enforcement agencies, including jails, from collaborating with ICE and CBP (Border Patrol). It further required them to take affirmative steps to recognize the rights of noncitizens in their custody. See RCW 10.93.160
In 2020 when ICE started aggressively rounding up noncitizens seeking to access justice and assistance in our Courthouses, the coalition again mobilized to ensure the passage of the Courts Open To All Act. The Act places expansive restrictions on courthouse arrests of people suspected of civil immigration violations (such as not having lawful immigration status). It further prohibits courts and prosecutors from sharing information with ICE and CBP for purposes of civil immigration enforcement. See RCW 2.28
Although not as far as is needed, the Biden Administration has taken significant steps to rein in the ICE enforcement dragnet. The Administration has issued guidelines that create a narrower range of people who will be designated “enforcement priorities” for arrest and deportation. In addition to national security and border security threats, people designated “public safety” threats will also be an enforcement priority. However, the April 3, 2022 memo from ICE’s principle legal advisor puts significant restrictions on who can be designated a “public safety threat”. See page 3 of the memo, available here.
While undocumented people continue to face risk of ICE apprehension, the Biden Administration has provided much needed respite from the terror faced by immigrant communities.
For more information on the Biden Administration’s ICE enforcement policies, please see the resources available from our partners at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center available here.