King County airport operators will stop serving ICE flights

Three companies at Boeing Field have indicated they will not service deportation flights.

King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

Ground service operators at King County International Airport will not serve Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flights following an executive order on April 23 directing the airport to find ways to stop deportation flights.

Following the executive order from King County Executive Dow Constantine, leadership from Modern Aviation, which is one of three ground service providers at the airport, commonly known as Boeing Field, said they would stop providing service for Swift Air flights, a private contractor ICE uses for deportations. A press release from the county stated that the other two service providers indicated they would not pick up the service.

Swift Air is a Phoenix-based air service provider and is thought to be the only charter used by ICE at the King County airport. Modern Aviation said it would not be providing hangar space and refueling facilities for the charter flights and Kenmore Aero Services and Signature Flight Support, the other two providers, have told airport officials they will not contract with Swift Air for immigration flights.

These decisions puts teeth behind Constantine’s proclamation last month that he wanted to see ICE stop using the county-owned airport for deportation flights.

ICE is not required to report its passenger logs or when it is using the airport for deportation flights. However, a study by the University of Washington estimated that over the past eight years, some 34,400 people have been deported through the airport. On average, roughly 360 people are shipped through the airport every month, with the highest volume recorded occurring in 2011 under the Obama administration.

The number of people being deported through the airport dropped to 238 in 2015, the study found, but under President Donald Trump’s administration, numbers are beginning to rise again. The majority of deportation flights from the airport are destined for Arizona and Texas, where deportees are placed on international flights or simply bused across the border to Mexico.

Of those deported, the report found that 2,615 were shipped away without a chance to see an immigration judge through expedited removal or similar processes.

In addition to the announcement from King County International Airport service providers, county staff have said they plan on installing cameras to monitor ICE activity. The airport was signed over to King County in the 1940s with a condition that it allow federal flights to use it. However, since ICE is using private contractors, it could allow the county a legal case to challenge the flights.

Airport officials said they expect legal challenges from ICE stemming from their decision to try and restrict deportation flights.

More in News

Sarah Abdullah is a pharmacist who left Iraq as a refugee. She joined the Welcome Back Center at Highline College and is now only two tests away from gaining Washington state certification to practice her trade. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Recredentialed: Barriers face Washington’s immigrant, refugee professionals

Even with degrees from abroad, it can be difficult for many to get certified in the state.

Allen Chen demonstrates the art of Chinese calligraphy at a workshop during the Issaquah Highlands Lunar New Year festivities. Courtesy photo by Jenny Peng.
Issaquah Highlands celebrates Lunar New Year

Festivities for the rest of the week have been canceled.

Son allegedly shoots escaped prisoner

A man on the run from KCSO ends up at the hospital during Tiger Mountain shooting

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

Madison Miller/staff photo
                                Providence Point residents raise hands in support of a Providence Point speaker at the Jan. 21 city council meeting.
City council approves Providence Heights rezone

Though approved, a disappointed council desires major changes to master site plan.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Most Read