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

Bellevue takes steps toward transit oriented development

Bellevue city council approves the guiding principles for East Main’s transit focused development.

City council position 3 candidates talk affordability and growth

The Bellevue Reporter reached out to council candidates to share who they are and what they value.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

Council candidates for Position 1 speak to level of service, growth, and homelessness

The candidates are incumbent John Stokes, Holly Zhang and Martin Acevedo.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

Bellevue PD: 153 firework reports made on temporary heat map tool

Improvements to be made, tool expected to return next year

Islamic Center Approved to Rebuild on Damaged Building’s Footprint

After being hit by two arsons since 2017, the Islamic Center of Eastside is on its way to a rebuild

From left, JD Yu, Janice Zahn, Mark Wilson
City Council candidate profiles, Pos. 5

Mark Wilson, incumbent Janice Zahn, and JD Yu.

Most Read