Immigration FAQs

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is committed to enforcement of all Washington criminal laws, to protect and serve all residents of Snohomish County, and to ensure the continued participation of victims and witnesses regardless of their immigration status. 

Why doesn’t the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office enforce immigration laws?

Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies are general authority Washington peace officers and are empowered to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington and local jurisdictions generally. Federal laws related to immigration and removability are enforced by federal enforcement agencies, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

Who has the authority to enforce immigration laws?

Immigration status and removability is primarily the jurisdiction of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but several other federal agencies also have enforcement authority, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as the Departments of State, Justice, and Labor. 

Do Sheriff’s deputies check citizenship status when responding to a call?

No. “To encourage crime reporting and cooperation in the investigation of criminal activity, all individuals, regardless of their immigration status, must feel secure that contacting or being addressed by members of law enforcement will not automatically lead to immigration inquiry and/or deportation. While it may be necessary to determine the identity of a victim or witness, members shall treat all individuals equally and without regard to race, color or national origin in any way that would violate the United States or Washington Constitutions.” (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Policy (PDF) 428 - Immigration Violations)

What does a Sheriff’s deputy do if they learn they have an undocumented immigrant in custody?

“A deputy shall verify from an ICE or CBP agent whether a person’s presence in the United States relates to a federal civil violation or a criminal violation. If the deputy has facts that establish probable cause to believe that a person already lawfully detained has committed a criminal immigration offense, he/she may continue the detention and may request ICE or CBP to respond to the location to take custody of the detained person. In addition, the deputy should notify a supervisor as soon as practicable. No individual who is otherwise ready to be released should continue to be detained only because questions about the individual’s status are unresolved. A deputy is encouraged to forgo detentions made solely on the basis of a misdemeanor offense when time limitations, availability of personnel, issues of officer safety, communication capabilities or the potential to obstruct a separate investigation outweigh the need for the detention.” (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Policy (PDF) 428 - Immigration Violations) 

Does the jail ask about citizenship status when booking an inmate?

No. As of July 2019, corrections personnel no longer ask citizenship or place of birth questions during the booking process or while in our custody, in compliance with RCW 10.93.160.

What is an ICE detainer?

Under 8 C.F.R. § 287.7, an ICE detainer is a request, written by an ICE officer, asking that the jail maintain custody of an inmate past their local release date for a period not to exceed 48 hours. 

Why doesn’t the Sheriff’s Office honor ICE detainer requests?

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office does not honor requests by ICE officers to detain persons past their local release date because doing so is a violation of the person’s rights and potentially subjects the jail to civil liability. Snohomish County will hold a person for other law enforcement agencies (including ICE) if presented with a court-issued warrant where probable cause has been established. (See Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County, et. al)

What is a court-issued warrant?

Generally, a court-issued warrant will contain the caption of the court issuing the warrant, the name of the person to be arrested or taken into custody by law enforcement, the criminal offense, the date of issue, the officer(s) to whom the warrant is directed, and the signature of a judge. A court-issued warrant is different than an ICE administrative removal warrant, which authorizes an ICE officer to arrest the subject, but is not a criminal warrant signed by a federal judge. 

What kind of information does the jail post publicly about inmates?

RCW 70.48.100 requires the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to post the name, custody status, offense(s), charging date(s), and release date(s) for all inmates, regardless of immigration status. 

Does the Sheriff’s Office comply with USC 8 Title 1373?

Yes. Title 8, section 1373 of the United States Code prohibits restrictions on sharing information regarding citizenship or immigration status between local governments and the federal government. The Snohomish County Sheriff does not have any policies that prohibit or otherwise restrict sharing this information, to the extent that the Sheriff’s Office has this information. 

Is Snohomish County a “sanctuary” county?

No. Snohomish County is not a sanctuary county.