OLYMPIA—This morning, Gov. Jay Inslee failed to answer whether Washington State Patrol officers could advise federal immigration authorities if they come upon an undocumented individual with a felony conviction. The question was raised in reference to a letter from Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. The letter expressed concern over an administrative investigation launched following a WSP officer’s interaction with federal authorities after a routine driver’s license check revealed the man was convicted of an aggravated felony and had been previously deported.
The governor received two letters from O’Ban, one on Friday, Feb. 17, and another on Monday, Feb. 20, seeking clarification as to whether WSP officers are free to contact federal authorities for information on felony conviction records.
“This should not be a controversial issue,” O’Ban said. “President Obama made felony deportation a top priority. This is not even an immigration issue as much as it is a law enforcement issue. Law enforcement needs to be free to do their job and keep the public, including immigrant communities, safe.”
In the morning press conference, Inslee dismissed O’Ban’s letter, citing the lack of a criminal warrant, but did not mention the second letter sent after initial media reports were clarified.
“The governor is focused on the wrong issue,” said O’Ban. “The substance of my concern is the same in both letters—is law enforcement getting the support they need to do their job? What message does it send when an officer is investigated for reacting to an aggravated felony conviction record? This has nothing to do with the national debate and everything to do with serving the public in the state of Washington.”
Audio of early media report that, when details were clarified, led to the second letter: