U.S. Dept. of Justice sues King Co. for banning ICE flights out of Boeing Field

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SEATTLE, Wash. — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against King County over the county’s ban on immigration-related flights at Boeing Field.

In April 2019, King County announced an executive order designed to ban all deportation flights from the airfield. Since Immigrations and Customs Enforcement cannot use the field, it has had to transport detainees to and from the Yakima airport via bus, which is a trip of about 150 miles.

“King County doesn’t get to pick and choose which federal laws it wants to follow,” said Brian T. Moran, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. “The federal government transferred Boeing Field to the County in 1948 — and the agreement states that the federal government retains the right to use the field at no cost. King County is violating the law, the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy clause, and the very agreement it signed to gain ownership of the airport.”

“The vast majority of people being deported from our state have previously committed crimes in this country that lead to their deportation,” said William D. Hyslop, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “We don’t refuse to send a criminal defendent to another state to face charges — neither should we fail to return illegal aliens to their country of origin if they have committed crimes that make them inadmissible to the United States and a danger to our communities.”

The DOJ claimed the restrictions placed on Boeing Field and the contractors who service aircraft there violate the Airline Deregulation Act, as well as the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, by obstructing and burdening federal activities.

Attorney General William Barr announced the lawsuit against King County in a speech to the nation’s sheriffs on Monday. The DOJ has also filed suit in New Jersey, seeking to invalidate laws preventing the sharing of information between state and local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.