Officials are questioning a state police trooper in Washington about his role in helping immigration enforcement officers find a wanted criminal alien. The criminal alien has been deported four times and is wanted on a felony warrant.
State Senator Steve O’Ban (R-Tacoma) fired off a letter to Governor Jay Inslee (D) after learning the Washington State Patrol was conducting an administrative review at the behest of the governor. O’Ban expressed “serious concerns” about the review, the Washington Examiner reported Saturday.
The trooper, whose identity has not been released, reportedly contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a criminal alien after investigating a traffic collision. The alien, Armando Chavez Corona, was previously convicted on a felony drug charge. Immigration officials deported the convicted felon on four separate occasions between 1996 and 2000. No information about his latest illegal reentry is publically available.
O’Ban claimed the governor was politicizing a matter that should be left to law enforcement. “I’m concerned that this investigation is motivated at least in part by the governor nationalizing this issue, when it shouldn’t be,” he told reporters.
In a written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, O’Ban stated:
The officer reportedly made contact with ICE officials after a routine driver’s license check revealed a notification request for a felony drug case.
The trooper checked Chavez Corona’s driver’s license after his car was involved in a February 9 accident on Interstate 5. The routine check revealed a notification request for a felony drug case. The trooper confirmed the details with federal immigration officials, who apprehended Corona a few hours later.
“Appropriately, President Obama stated, ‘if you are a criminal, you will be deported,’” O’Ban continued. “Checking on a felony notification of a convicted felon here illegally should not subject a trooper to an administrative investigation. The State Patrol needs to know its officers are going to be supported when they’re doing their job.”
“There is no reason to confuse this public safety issue with the immigration debate happening in the other Washington.” said O’Ban.
The Washington State Patrol disagreed with O’Ban’s assessment of the trooper’s job. “We’re not federal agents, and that’s not our role. Our role is to keep our roadways safe,” State Patrol spokesman Kyle Moore told the Olympian on February 15.
Chavez Corona did not cause the crash, which took place on northbound I-5, just south of 56th Street in Tacoma, Moore said.
The State Patrol’s policy on illegal immigrants puts the state at odds with federal requirements to assist immigration officials. The policy states the agency will not “stop, detain or interrogate or place an immigration hold on any person solely for the purpose of ascertaining immigration status or in any other way attempt to enforce federal immigration laws,” the Olympian reported.
At no time, did the trooper arrest or detain Chavez Corona who was not at fault in the accident. Immigration officials arrived on the scene of the collision and took the criminal alien into custody.
State Patrol Spokesman Moore told reporters the trooper is allowed to inquire about an ICE warning to obtain more information about a person’s criminal history. This action is authorized to provide the law enforcement officer with more safety information about whether he should suspect the individual may be in possession of a weapon or otherwise be dangerous.
The governor’s office confirmed to the Olympian that an administrative review is underway. “The governor takes very seriously the need to make sure all residents of Washington feel safe in their interactions with the men and women in our state Patrol, particularly given the anxiety that many in our state are feeling right now,” Spokesperson Jaime Smith told the local newspaper.
The State of Washington has been designated a sanctuary jurisdiction by the Center for Immigration Studies which compiled a list of 300 such jurisdictions. That list was turned over to then-United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch by U.S. Rep. John Culberson in 2016. The Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General used that list to certify ten jurisdictions as not being compliant with 8 U.S.C. § 1373.
“99 percent is not good enough,” Culberson stated in a December interview with Breitbart Texas. “These jurisdictions must cooperate 100 percent to qualify for these DOJ grants. They must choose between protecting illegal aliens and receiving federal funds.”
Those jurisdictions certified as not being in compliance are:
- The State of Connecticut
- The State of California
- Orleans Parish, Louisiana
- New York City
- Cook County, Illinois
- Miami-Dade County, Florida
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Clark County, Nevada
The DOJ states these jurisdictions received 65 percent of the awards by the OJP in FY2015 through March 2016.