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

Today, the Justice Department filed suit against King County, Washington, and King County Executive Dow Constantine challenging King County Executive Order PFC-7-1-EO, which has the purpose and intended effect of prohibiting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contractors from using King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field, as a terminal for flights to remove individuals from the United States or transport immigration detainees within the country. As a result of similar refusals at other airports in the Seattle area, ICEs contractor has been forced to relocate these flights to Yakima, Washington. This has created significant operational difficulties and additional costs for ICE due to: (1) the increased costs of flying in and out of Yakimas 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 lawsuit challenges the Executive Order as 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. A copy of the complaint is available here.