A Honduran immigrant who fled violence that killed his brother and friend was accidentally arrested by Seattle-area police and put in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody last week after he called 911 to report an intruder.
According to CNN, Wilson Rodriguez Macarreno, 32, called the police after weeks of seeing someone trespassing on his and his family’s property and attempting to break into their home and car in Tukwila, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Upon arriving, police found the man determined to be the trespasser then ran Macarreno’s ID, which he had given them thinking they needed it for a police report.
Upon running his ID through the federal National Crime Information Center, officers learned Macarreno had an outstanding warrant, then arrested and transported him to an ICE field office in Seattle for processing. Tukwila police later said they accidentally arrested Macarreno. According to Officer Victor Masters from the department, though officers had found the trespasser, they didn’t have probable cause to arrest him and let him go, the Seattle Times reported.
According to a Facebook post the police department shared explaining why it arrested Macarreno, officers believed the outstanding warrant was a “valid order from a judge in the form of a criminal warrant.”
In actuality, the warrant was an administrative ICE warrant entered into the department database as a criminal warrant. Immigrant rights experts, along with Macarreno’s lawyer, Luis Cortes, say administrative warrants issued by U.S. immigration officers aren’t signed off by an immigration or federal judge, nor are they independently reviewed in any other way, meaning there is no oversight to assess probable cause of issuing a warrant.
“In the criminal justice system, it would never fly,” Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, told CNN.
ICE had told Tukwila police it had been entering such warrants into the department database as if they were criminal warrants. ICE spokesperson Lori Haley told the Times that administrative warrants aren’t legally required to be verified by a judge for local law enforcement to comply.
“They followed standard protocol and procedure as they would for a warrant of any type. They did not act with malice or outside the scope of policy or procedure for handling a warrant,” the department’s Facebook post stated. “We have since verified with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that administrative deportation orders of removal are in fact being entered into NCIC the same way criminal warrants would be and that we may be encountering more of these types of warrants in the future.”
*UPDATE to our original post http://bit.ly/2BSzgNlAfter the incident that occurred Thursday morning, Chief of Police…Posted by Tukwila Police Department on Saturday, February 10, 2018
Seattle Police Department spokesperson Patrick Michaud told the Times that it’s procedure to run identification from victims, witnesses, and suspects to confirm identities but that they don’t act on information from immigration authorities.
ICE has previously argued for working with local law enforcement for “risks to public safety and officer safety” CNN reported, but both Seattle and King County, the county encompassing Tukwila, have policies against cooperating with ICE. However, Masters told the Times that the officers called to Macarreno’s home had called ICE about his warrant, to which ICE requested they bring Macarreno to the field office. Because the office was “just down the road,” they complied.
According to Cortes, Macarreno came to the U.S. in 2004 fleeing violence, saying his brother died from a gunshot to the head and that his friend was found “chopped to pieces.” He was first apprehended by ICE in Texas that year but missed his court date because he didn’t have an address to receive his court date notice.
In Washington, Macarreno works as a carpenter and has 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old. Cortes said Macarreno has no criminal history, but he has already been denied bond and is awaiting deportation processing.
In response to the accidental arrest, Tukwila police said they have instituted a new directive to prevent similar arrests from happening again and spoke at a City Council meeting to reassure its commitment to the community. But Macarreno’s arrest has already prompted outrage from local and national advocates who say undocumented immigrants may fear police and feel they cannot trust local authorities to protect them in similar situations.
“We will not be responding to these types of warrants from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement moving forward,” the department’s Facebook post stated. “We will continue this engagement in the coming weeks to reassure our community and neighbors and to rebuild trust.”