In Washington State, Sanctuary Policies Lead to Another Preventable Death
Jennifer G. Hickey
The brutal stabbing and dismemberment of a Kent, Washington, man by an illegal alien who had been deported four times exposes the fallacy that sanctuary policies do not endanger lives of residents, including those in immigrant communities.A day after Rosalio Ramos-Ramos’ brother called the police to raise the possibility that he might have killed someone, the 37-year-old illegal immigrant and convicted felon was arrested by Kent Police on charges of murdering his cousin, Pedro Venegas-Ramos.The murder should never have occurred because Ramos-Ramos was being pursued by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year after federal authorities learned he had been in the custody of Kent Police, according to Circa.“I believe this person needed to be off the streets. He had been deported four times prior, he is a convicted felon and he’s a very violent person,” said Kent police Chief Ken Thomas.Ramos-Ramos landed in jail last October on misdemeanor charges of possessing methamphetamine, but was transferred to Harborview Medical Center after attacking jail staff. He was then placed in a medically-induced coma after he continued to act violently.When ICE officials became aware of his arrest, they sought to detain him at Harborview, but were met with resistance because the hospital is considered a “sensitive location” where state sanctuary laws prohibit federal immigration officials to enter.Kent Police tried to assist by continuously calling Harborview for his status. They were met with obstruction. On a final call, the Kent Police said they were coming to detain him, but the hospital had released him the night before.After several interactions with other South King County police agencies, he was arrested on January 11 for the murder of his cousin.The hospital deflected blame, “it is the role of the law enforcement agency to guard the patient while they are hospitalized” and that they followed “federal privacy laws that dictate the amount and type of patient medical information” they could release, according to KOMO news.The hospital’s reckless disregard for public safety should come as no surprise given the precedent set by the county and the state of Washington.Kent is situated in King County, one of 29 sanctuary jurisdictions to have received multiple warnings from the Justice Department about potential non-compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373, a federal statute that promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement.The first letter was sent last November with the second coming two weeks after the arrest of Ramos-Ramos. Despite the case dramatically demonstrating what goes wrong when city and state agencies can act in opposition to federal law enforcement authority, county politicians responded, well, politically.After the January letter, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Council Chair Joe McDermott issued a joint statement asserting that the “Department of Justice’s reckless actions threaten the safety of our communities.”McDermott said the U.S Department of Justice’s threat to subpoena King County if they failed to provide requested documents was “nothing more than bullying and intimidation by (President) Trump and (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions,” adding that the country complies “with federal law” and does “nothing to inhibit communication between our officials and federal agencies.”In February 2013, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed an executive order reaffirming “Washington’s commitment to tolerance, diversity, and inclusion” but also compelling law enforcement agencies to stop providing any assistance, including financial, to law enforcement agents charged with enforcing federal immigration law.