ICE deported 34,000 through Boeing Field

Detainees are loaded onto a Swift Air charter flight at King County International Airport (Boeing Field) in Seattle, WA for an ICE Air flight under callsign RPN 529. (Still image from video by Alex Montalvo and Wadii Boughdir for University of Washington Center for Human Rights.)

Government-chartered flights that deported than 34,000 people were routed through King County International Airport, popularly known as Boeing Field, over the past 8 years, researchers reported this week.

The University of Washington Center for Human Rights issued the report, which was the result of a study of 1.73 million records from the nationwide operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Air Operations. The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The researchers found that on average between 2011 and 2018, about 360 people per month were on deportation flights that went through Boeing Field, which is just south of the Georgetown neighborhood and on the opposite side of the freeway from Beacon Hill.

The majority of deportees who came through Boeing Field were routed to other U.S. airports on their way out of the country, but there were direct flights from the airfield to other countries, including China, Guatemala and El Salvador, the report found.

“Under the Trump administration, the numbers are again trending upward, though they have yet to match the pace of deportations during the Obama-era peak,” the Center said in its report.

King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an executive order on Tuesday that would eventually block the flights by amending the county’s lease practices to air-carriers.

“Here in King County, we are a welcoming community that respects the rights of all people. My Executive Order seeks to make sure all those who do business with King County uphold the same values,” Constantine said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to ban flights of immigrant detainees from our publicly owned airport, and I hope members of Congress shine a light on this practice and how it is currently funded.”

Further reading

University of Washington Center for Human Rights: Hidden in Plain Sight: King County Collaboration with ICE Air Deportation Flights at Boeing Field

King County: Executive Constantine directs actions against ICE detainee flights from King County Airport