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

Flying Fish: Lake Sammamish kokanee move to Orcas Island

It’s part of a program to preserve the unique freshwater salmon species.

Malena Gaces, left, and other members of Washington CAN protest unfair move-out charges and alleged discriminatory behavior outside Kitts Corner Apartments in Federal Way in 2018. Sound Publishing file photo
King County could increase tenant protections

The council is considering ordinances designed to help renters.

Art planned for Overlake Village to celebrate tech, LGBTQ+ community

A Gateway art and bike/pedestrian art tunnel are planned.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Mayor John Marchione, APA Washington Incoming President Nancy Eklund, and Senator Patty Murray’s Chief of Staff, Mindi Linquist at the Cleveland Street’s National Recognition on Oct. 10. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Cleveland Street recognized as a ‘Great Street in America’

The Cleveland Street project was part of a 20-year vision for downtown Redmond in efforts to turn the neighborhood into an urban center.

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

The indoor batting cages will be located at Redmond Ridge Park at 22915 NE Alder Crest Drive. The facility will include 3 lanes for the batting cages. Photo courtesy of King County
King County agrees for construction of indoor batting cage facility at Redmond Ridge Park

The ordinance authorizes for a five-year use agreement between King County and Redmond North Little League.

Balducci runs against Hirt for District 6 county council seat

The former Bellevue mayor is essentially running unopposed.

Most Read