Sen. Phil Fortunato. COURTESY PHOTO

Sen. Phil Fortunato. COURTESY PHOTO

King County jail data ‘breach’ blessing in disguise, says Fortunato

  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 7:00pm
  • News

Sen. Phil Fortunato is taking issue with demands from advocates of illegal immigration for a plan to ensure compliance with King County and state “sanctuary” policies that effectively shield violent offenders.

The Auburn Republican, whose district includes part of King County, said he appreciates that the county allowed federal immigration authorities to access detention records – what critics are calling a “data breach” – until a new state law meant to limit immigration enforcement took effect two months ago.

Fortunato opposed the anti-enforcement legislation pushed through by the Legislature’s Democrat majority, warning that the policy would make communities less safe. His concern was confirmed earlier this summer when an unauthorized immigrant who was accused of brutally raping a disabled woman was released by King County, only to be accused of victimizing the woman again.

“It was only a matter of time before we had such a horrendous incident occur,” Fortunato said. “What advocates fail to realize in their quest to protect the good people is that they are allowing violent criminals here illegally to operate with impunity, putting us all at risk. The right thing was done, even though it appears to be accidental. The data breach was really a blessing in disguise, especially if you consider the kinds of heinous crimes that have been committed.”

After the state’s “sanctuary” law took effect May 21, federal immigration authorities pushed back, providing a list of criminals and their offenses to explain how the new rule could hinder them. Anti-enforcement advocates ignore these cases when wrongly using the term “breach” to describe the access to detention data, Fortunato said.

“Unfortunately, King County has, in too many instances, ignored immigration-detainer requests for violent criminals,” added Fortunato. “We’re talking about child rapists, people who murder and dismember their victims, now roaming our streets. When the governor signed the anti-enforcement law, he said he ‘wouldn’t be complicit in these…depraved efforts to break up hard-working immigrant and refugee families.’ Instead, he’s just complicit in protecting violent criminals.”

Fortunato concluded by noting how anti-enforcement advocates are quick to demand accountability from King County but not their own supporters. “I have not heard one supporter of this law denounce the recent terrorist attack on the federal detention center in Tacoma. That is telling,” he said.

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