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

Port of Seattle grants fund economic development across the Eastside

2019 Port of Seattle funding supports economic development projects in Eastside cities.

Issaquah candidate campaign funding

Many candidates chose to raise less than $5,000, allowing them not to report.

Mayor Mary Lou Pauly has appointed Wally Bobkiewicz as Issaquah’s next city administrator. Photo courtesy of city of Issaquah
Wally Bobkiewicz is Issaquah’s new city administrator

The city council confirmed the appointment during its Aug. 12 meeting.

Mark Lundborg, fencer and CFO of Issaquah’s Washington Fencing Academy (WFA), will be competing in the 2019 Veteran World Championships in Cairo, Egypt. Madison Miller / staff photo
Lundborg to compete in at the 2019 Veteran World Championships

The 59-year-old recently won the veteran men’s individual saber at the 2019 USA Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

District Court Judge Peter Nault dies after 25 years on the bench

The county council will appoint a judge to fill the open spot.

Dave Stuby’s long career in dispatching was honored last month during a governing board meeting in Kirkland. He is the first enrolled in NORCOM’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of NORCOM
Issaquah resident spent 33 years in 911 dispatching

Dave Stuby is the first enrolled in NORCOM’s Hall of Fame.

Issaquah Police Department aims to help parents with strong-willed children

The Parent Project provides a 10-week course for parents with difficult or out-of-control adolescents.

Former KOMO 4 news anchor, Dan Lewis, has turned to photography since his retirement. Photo courtesy of Dan Lewis
Former news anchor displays photography at Caffé Ladro

Dan Lewis discovers new passion for photography in his retirement.

Aubrey Aramaki reflects on success of beloved clock gallery

Owner of Aubrey’s Clock Gallery shares lessons, anecdotes.

Most Read