A newly filed lawsuit against the City of Tukwila and Tukwila Police Department alleges officers overstepped their authority in turning over a Honduran immigrant to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he called the police for help.
Wilson Rodriquez Macarreno, 32, called the police to report an attempted break-in at his Tukwila home in early February. However, when officers arrived, they discovered Rodriguez Macarreno had an outstanding warrant issued by ICE due to missing a past court appearance in Texas in 2004, according to his attorneys.
Tukwila officers turned Rodriguez Macarreno over to ICE officials. The father of three currently remains in custody in Tacoma facing deportation to his home country of Honduras.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday morning by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) seeks damages as well as changes to the city’s police policy to clarify the role of local law enforcement.
A spokesman for NWIRP argued that past federal court rulings have made it clear that local law enforcement officers are not authorized to arrest individuals for an immigration violation, which is a federal offense.
“Someone who called police to get protection was instead arrested by police, separated from his wife and children and is now facing permanent separation from his family,” said Matt Adams of NWIRP.
The suit also argues the Tukwila Police Department’s policy manual contains conflicting directives, both “precluding officers from engaging in immigration enforcement activities absent exceptional circumstances,” but also allowing Tukwila police officers to “enforce civil immigration laws after lawful detention or criminal arrest.”
Following the February incident, Tukwila police indicated there was confusion about Rodriguez Macarreno and said the department would not take action against administrative warrants, in the future.
Newly released police body camera footage shows for the first time what happened the night of Rodriguez Macarreno's arrest.
"I want to be honest with you, I'm illegal," Rodriguez Macarreno could be heard telling officers at the beginning of the tape before breaking down in tears.
"I pay everything," he said. "I am working hard every day."
Rodriguez Macarreno told officers he had lived in Tukwila for five years and he had "a very bad life" in his native country.
About nine minutes into the tape, the officers say they are checking into the incident and what happened.
"They’re looking in the computer right now, and if they’re going to see if it’s something – If we can help you in some way, we will, right?" an officer can be heard telling Rodriguez Macarreno.
“Sometimes a decision is taken out of our hands too, you know, when it comes to the law,” the officer continued.
KING 5 reached out to the City of Tukwila for comment, but has not heard back yet.
While the new suit filed on his behalf will not impact his current immigration case and deportation proceedings, it could have the potential of impacting future cases.
NWIRP filed a similar suit against Spokane last year which resulted in the city updating its policies regarding how and when they detain persons suspected of immigration violations. As part of a settlement, the city also paid the individual in that case $49,000.