By: Essex Porter

Updated: Oct 4, 2019 - 8:21 PM

The undocumented immigrant accused of stabbing a man on a light rail train in mid-September had other crimes in his past.

ICE officers say he was released from jail in April of this year because local jurisdictions don't honor administrative detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"It's very possible to say, had he come into our custody through the detainer that we lodged in 2017, he would have gone through his proceedings and he would have been deported," said Nathalie Asher, director of immigration enforcement and removal for Alaska, Oregon and Washington. That's why she wants local governments to repeal their sanctuary policies.

But sanctuary advocates, like Seattle's One America, say everyone is safer when undocumented immigrants and family members can trust local law enforcement, and therefore cooperate with police. They say sanctuary policies allow local jails to comply with judicial warrants signed by a judge.

Asked why not get a judicial warrant, Asher replied, "Because it's not written in laws as they currently are for us to get that judicial warrant, for us to get that judicial warrant in every case."

Asked about a recent ICE operation in Port Orchard where a man posted on Facebook that he didn't break a single law, but was harassed based on his skin tone, she said, "We're back out in the communities because the jails are not honoring our detainers. So, it does become a challenge for our officers to identify out targets when they are out in the community."

Asher worries that the public demonizing of ICE officers is putting them in danger. She points to the recent attempt to firebomb the ICE detention center in Tacoma.

"Depicting ICE and specifically my officers almost to Gestapo-like individuals who are doing raids, you know, just randomly picking up people, is reckless, it's irresponsible."