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Thousands of people deported out of Boeing Field, report reveals

More than 30,000 people have been flown out of Boeing Field on deportation flights, a report from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights reveals.
Credit: Associated Press

Editor's Note: The above video, which aired in 2017, highlights King County and Seattle leaders defending their sanctuary city status.

On the same day researchers revealed thousands of people have been flown out of Boeing Field on deportation flights, the King County executive signed legislation in an effort to curb the activity. 

A report by the University of Washington Center for Human Rights details how approximately 34,400 people have left King County International Airport - more commonly known as Boeing Field - on 466 deportation flights since 2010. There's an average of 360 detained immigrants flown out of the airport by ICE per month, according to the report. 

Though the number of people being flown out decreased between 2011 and 2015, the report notes the numbers are trending upward once again, "though they have yet to match the pace of deportations during the Obama-era peak."

"Despite King County’s officials’ claims to protect immigrant communities at a time of heightened immigration enforcement, the use of county property for regular deportation flights has continued unabated," researchers report.

Though there are some deportation flights directly to international destinations, the majority of people being deported from King County are transferred to other flights within the U.S., bused over the Mexican border, or relocated to other ICE detention centers, the report says.

On Tuesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an order that directs the airport to amend lease practices so companies comply with the county's local immigration and human rights ordinances, specifically those that dictate not to cooperate or facilitate immigration enforcement directives unless under court order. The order also updates the airport's standards of reports and audits from businesses involved with immigration. 

As noted by the UW researchers, King County doesn't have a contract with ICE, nor does it receive major benefits. However, it does provide the infrastructure that allows private companies contracted with Homeland Security, contractors, and subcontractors, to profit, the report notes. 

In June 2018, Constantine said he learned Boeing Field was being used by ICE. 

"I can tell you, I’ve already talked to (King County) Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and we are going to do everything within our power – I’m going to do everything in my power – to make sure our publicly owned airport built by the people of this county is not used to perpetuate this brutality against people," he said in a statement. 

In February 2018, the county council approved an ordinance that was meant to limit collaboration of county officials with federal immigration enforcement. 

Researchers note "little progress" was made since then. 

The authors of the study conclude that while the role Boeing Field has played in deportations is not a secret. However, they write that the county has the opportunity to stop the current practices. 

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