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Home » Archives » July 2017 » County Council Public Hearing On Should The County Sometimes Not Assist Federal Agents

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07/30/2017: "County Council Public Hearing On Should The County Sometimes Not Assist Federal Agents"

Multiple national news outlets are reporting that an illegal immigrant arrested and deported 20 times was released in Portland last year because Portland, like Washington, had directed law enforcement to not hold someone in their custody long enough for the Feds to arrest him.

As a result, he was release last year even though ICE (US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) asked he be held until they could pick him up.

On Monday, (07-24-17) he committed a robbery, kidnapping, burglary and sexual attack on two victims, including rape of a 65 year old woman.

in February of this year Governor Jay Inslee signed an Executive Order (pdf (4745\k file) that directs state authorities with arrest powers to not “arrest solely for violation of federal civil immigration laws..”

And San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord recently told the SJI Rotary Club that his office also does not cooperate with federal law enforcement officials who request a detainee be held until they can pick them up, unless there is a warrant issued for his arrest.

Now a San Juan County citizen’s initiative concerning immigration has been approved to be on the November general election ballot on this very subject.

The initiative follows the lead of Oregon, Governor Jay Inslee and Gaylord, and if passed -or adopted by the County Council- will prohibit any “County employee or elected official, whether paid in part or in full by the County” from taking any action to find out if someone has entered the country illegally, nor arrest and hold any person who has a “Civil Immigration Warrant, an administrative warrant, or Civil Immigration Detainer whether it names a specific person or is general in nature unless accompanied by a Judicial Order.” However, if there is court order (e.g. a warrant) then they may hold them until the Feds show up.

This may seem a tad unusual from the way things normally go, and even more so given that according to federal law “Unlawful presence in the United States is only a crime when an individual has been removed (deported) previously and then returns to the United States. This is called illegal reentry and it is a federal crime under 8 U.S.C. § 1326.”

Under current County policy, if in certain cases if the sheriff had information that someone is in violation of the law, be it federal, state or county, they already have a policy to not do what the proposed citizen’s initiative says they must not do: “Neither the County Sheriff nor any employee of the Sheriff’s Department or other local law enforcement officer shall stop, question, interrogate, investigate or arrest an individual based solely on… actual or suspected civil immigration status…

In the Oregon case, KGW Portland reported that their local Sheriff wrote in a letter to the community “The sheriff’s office does not hold people in county jails on ICE detainers or conduct any immigration enforcement actions.”

On Tuesday, August 15, at 9:15 am. A San County Council public hearing will take place in the Council Chambers at 55 Second Street in Friday Harbor on the proposed initiative.

This is the beginning of a possible alternative route to adoption. If it chooses, the County Council can unilaterally adopt the initiative into law.

If they do so, the measure will not go to the voters in November. However the Council must adopt the initiative as presented, “without change or amendment,” for If they make changes, both the original initiative and the amended initiative must go to the voters.

In order to consider its options, and to facilitate public discussion, the County Council has scheduled a public hearing on the initiative for public input.

The Initiative 2017-7 required 1,635 signatures (which represents 15% of the votes cast in the County in the last gubernatorial election) in order to advance to the voters. On July 5, the sponsor turned in 156 petition signature pages containing 2,668 signatures. On July 12, the petition was certified with 2,382 valid signatures. Upon certification, the Auditor is authorized to submit the measure to the voters at the next general election -unless of course the Council decides to take matter into their own hands and simply adopt it as presented.

The right to create law by initiative has been available to San Juan County citizens since the adoption of the County Charter in 2005. Since 2005, five initiatives have been filed with the County Auditor’s Office. Of those, only two have completed the petition process and submitted petitions for certification.

The previous one, Initiative 2012-4, commonly known at the GMO Initiative, was certified as sufficient, went to the 2012 general election ballot, and was adopted into law by the voters.

In addition, two “mini-initiatives” have been submitted. Mini-initiatives require fewer signatures and go to the County Council, rather than to the voters, for adoption or rejection.

Only one of the two - Initiative 2010-3, concerning vesting of property rights - completed the petition process and went to Council. Council elected not to adopt the initiative into law.

For more information about the initiative process, contact the Elections office at (360) 378-3357.

John Evans
Greg Hertel
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Teresa Smith
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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