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Yakima airport used for ICE deportation flights in place of Boeing Field

ICE is sending deportation flights to Yakima after losing its flight operator at Boeing Field.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent a plane filled with immigrant detainees to the Yakima Air Terminal this week when the agency was forced to stop operations at Boeing Field.

The Yakima-Herald reports that ICE will be using the Yakima airport to drop off and pick up immigrant detainees.

On Tuesday, 42 undocumented immigrants arrived in Yakima on a private plane under contract with ICE, the paper reported. The few dozen passengers were then transported by bus to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. 

Yakima City Manager Cliff Moore said that ICE would continue to operate through the Yakima airport while tensions remain in King County. 

“[ICE Acting Field Operations Director Bryan Wilcox] said they may be coming again as early as Sunday,” Moore told the Yakima Herald. “He said that was a possibility, but he wouldn’t commit to disclosing the frequency or any schedule.” 

Moore also said that ICE patrols and enforcement would not increase in the area while ICE uses the Yakima airport.

RELATED: ICE defends deportation practice at Boeing Field, condemns lawmakers

Boeing Field airport operator Modern Aviation stopped serving Swift Air flights that carry immigrant detainees this week.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the decision Thursday, about a week after he issued an executive order that directed the airport to change their practices so they comply with county immigration ordinances, including policies to not cooperate or facilitate immigration enforcement directives unless under court order.

Phoenix-based Swift Air is believed to be the only charter used by ICE at Boeing Field, according to Constantine.

Modern Aviation, which is one of three operators at Boeing Field, was the only one that serviced Swift Air. Kenmore Aero Services and Signature Flight Support both told airport officials they would not pick up Swift Air service, according to Constantine.

King County Executive Dow Constantine applauded the move.

“We do not want to see our publicly owned airport used for the wholesale deportation of immigrant detainees, and I applaud Modern Aviation for its civic mindedness," he said in a statement.

A recent report from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights found about 34,400 people have left Boeing Field on 466 deportation flights since 2010. There’s an average of 360 detained immigrants flown out of the airport by ICE each month.

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