WA Law Enforcement Can't Prolong Stops To Ask About Immigration Status

Sep 18, 2013

A court in Washington State has ruled that local law enforcement officers cannot prolong traffic stops and other detentions to ask people about their immigration status. 

The suit was brought in Pierce County Superior Court on behalf of three people who were detained by Kitsap County Sheriffs in 2010. Officers pulled them over to check on a defective headlight and to see their shellfish licenses. But then deputies began to ask the three about their immigration status and held them until border patrol agents arrived.

The court found that the officers’ actions were illegal under Washington State’s constitution.

Matt Adams is an attorney with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. He says local law enforcement officers are not authorized to enforce federal immigration law.

"It’d be similar to why would state or local law enforcement be engaged in enforcing federal tax law, it’s just outside the parameters of their work" says Adams.

Adams said he filed the suit with the ACLU after hearing of several similar incidents from across the state.

Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting.