The Justice Department (DOJ) announced it is suing King County, Washington, over an executive order designed to block Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations at a key international airport in the county.
The DOJ asserts King County Executive Dow Constantine issued the order with the “purpose and intended effect of prohibiting” ICE contractors from transporting detainees around or out of the United States from King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field.
Under the E.O., King County officials are directed to “ensure that all future leases, operating permits, and other authorizations for commercial activity at King County International Airport contain a prohibition against providing aeronautical or non-aeronautical services to enterprises engaged in the business of deporting immigration detainees (except for federal government aircraft), to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”
Following the issuance of the E.O., “the company providing fixed-based operator (FBO) services (fueling, aircraft maintenance, and similar services) to ICE’s contractor at Boeing Field informed the contractor that it would no longer service its flights, and no other FBO agreed to assist the contractor,” the DOJ explains.
Justice Department Sues King County, Washington, and King County Executive for Prohibiting U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Contractors From Using King County International Airport https://t.co/1e43R0q2Pm
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) February 10, 2020
The ICE contractor was reportedly denied FBO services by other companies in the Seattle-Tacoma metro region, and was ultimately forced to move operations 150 miles away to an airport in Yakima.
“This has created significant operational difficulties and additional costs for ICE due to: (1) the increased costs of flying in and out of Yakima’s airport, (2) the road conditions between Yakima and Tacoma, which often make transportation of detainees difficult, and (3) the inability to house detainees in or near Yakima in the event of delays or inclement weather,” the DOJ says.
The Justice Department is challenging the E.O. on the grounds that it is “unlawful under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the Order obstructs and burdens federal activities, discriminates against federal contractors, and is expressly preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act, which prohibits localities such as King County from enacting or enforcing laws or regulations that relate to prices, routes, or services of air carriers.”
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