A Washington police department has come under fire after turning an immigrant who called police for help over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The Tukwila Police Department said officers were not acting “with malice” when they arrested the man after they mistook an administrative warrant issued by ICE for a judicial warrant.
The man had called police with concerns over a “suspicious person” trespassing onto his property at around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, police said in a Facebook post.
“As with every incident, we establish the identity of those involved. During our normal process of verifying the identities, an outstanding warrant issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement was discovered,” the department said.
Tukwila Police said the man “proactively acknowledged” that he had a warrant and was allowed by officers to contact a lawyer and call a friend before officers transferred him to ICE agents, who took him into custody.
“In this particular case, officers were informed there was a warrant, verified that the warrant was valid and transferred the individual named in the warrant over to the issuing authority,” police said.
Only after the man’s arrest did they realize the warrant had been an administrative one from ICE, rather than a judicially issued warrant.
A judicial warrant is an official court document signed by a judge, meaning “there has been due process backed by probable cause,” Susan Gottehrer of the New York Civil Liberties Union explained in a post on immigration nonprofit Long Island Wins’s website.
“An administrative warrant is simply a document signed by an ICE agent,” she says, adding that it does not “pass constitutional muster.”
Gottehrer adds that “you do not have to open the door” if agents show up at your home with an administrative warrant.
While the department did not issue an apology over the incident, it said in an updated post that its officers will no longer be responding to administrative warrants issued by ICE or collaborate with the agency.
By Chantal Da Silva for NEWSWEEK
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