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Thurston County reviews policy options following surprise ICE arrest earlier this year

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Adrian Florez

Thurston County is looking into the arrest of a man by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the county courthouse earlier this year.

On Thursday afternoon, county commissioners will hold a meeting to examine what happened during the June 20 arrest, and consider possible policy changes.

Thurston County Manager Ramiro Chavez said the ICE arrest at the courthouse came as a total surprise to him.

“We didn’t have any forewarning and we never experienced, at least to my knowledge, this type of arrest in the past,” Chavez said.

Not all the details are clear.

Chavez said he reviewed security footage, which shows ICE agents in civilian clothing escorting the man to an unmarked car.

He said there hasn’t been any follow up from ICE about the incident, and it’s not clear the county could have done anything to prevent the arrest, if the agents had a federal warrant.

The meeting — which includes representatives from District Court, Superior Court, the Office of Public Defense,  the sheriff’s office and others — aims to share information and determine whether to establish a policy for similar situations in the future.

“Who is going to be the one who implements the policy?” Chavez said.

It could be the courts or the county commissioners, depending on what comes out of the meeting, he said.

Part of the agenda includes a review of Washington state’s new sanctuary law, which restricts local law enforcement’s ability to ask about immigration status.

“The prosecuting attorney’s office needs to go through the details of the new law and see how that impacts the county,” Chavez said.

Over the summer, a federal judge in Massachusetts ordered ICE to stop arresting people for civil immigration violations at courthouses in that state.

Will Stone is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.