The community outcry continues for the man who called 911 for help but was detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and currently faces possible deportation.
Wilson Rodriguez Macarreno, 32, contacted Tukwila Police Department Feb. 8 to report a suspicious person on his property in the 4000 block of South 148th Street
Police officers responded to his call around 5:30 a.m. and were able to apprehend the suspect. During the process of verifying the reporting party’s identity, police discovered an outstanding administrative warrant issued by ICE.
After checking with ICE, responding police officers took Macarreno to the ICE office on Tukwila International Boulevard. He was then transferred into the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.
The incident has caused several residents and community members to voice their concerns regarding the incident and question the officers’ actions.
Reporting officers followed standard protocol and procedures for responding to a call of warrant, said Deputy Chief Rick Mitchell at the Feb. 12 City Council meeting. Police have previously arrested other reporting persons, witnesses and victims who had outstanding criminal warrants in other cases, he added.
Macarreno had an outstanding administrative warrant issued by ICE for missing a court date in 2004, but not any criminal warrants. According to Mitchell, responding officers “believed that they were executing a valid order from a judge in the form of a criminal warrant.”
TPD reportedly verified with ICE officials that administrative deportation orders of removal are now being entered into the police database the same as criminal warrants. According to TPD Public Information Officer Victor Masters, ICE used to only enter warrants into the department’s database if someone had a criminal history. However the agency recently began to enter deportation warrants into the database.
“This just happened to be the first one we encountered,” Masters said.
Mitchell said the department has started to take steps to notify all personnel of the issue and is issuing directives on how to handle ICE warrants in the future.
He also said Chief Bruce Linton issued a directive that stated TPD “will not respond to any warrants issued by ICE nor will the department collaborate with the agency moving forward.”
“The Tukwila Police Department does not respond to U.S. ICE requests to detain individuals on their behalf nor do we respond to their request to notify them of any contacts we have of undocumented persons through the course of our duties,” he said. “As a practice and per our policy we do not inquire as to the nationality or immigration status of anyone who we contact during the course of our duties as well.”
The command staff is currently reviewing the incident and there have been no repercussions for the reporting officers as of Feb. 16, according to Masters.
“The officers did not act in malice or outside of the scope of the department policy or procedure of handling a warrant,” Mitchell said at the meeting.
Several community member attended the Feb. 12 council meeting to express their hesitancy about reporting crimes and contacting TPD in the case of emergencies.
Andrea Gumboa, a teacher at Tukwila School District, said the incident has caused many of her students to distrust the police.
“Tukwila PD publicly reassured the community they would not act as ICE agents, share information with ICE or question immigration status,” she said at the council meeting, referring to a community event held in 2016. “They need to be assured to call 911 freely, without fear about questions about immigration status…. There were tears in our classrooms once again as students learned the events from Thursday morning. Just this morning a student in my civics class asked me quietly, ‘Ms. Gumboa, what do I tell my parents about what happened? Are the police safe to call when there’s an emergency or could they be taken away?’ Simply put, trust has been broken and relationships have been damaged.”
Community organizations have also echoed Gumboa’s sentiments and concerns.
“There is a family in Tukwila who has been thrown into crisis,” said OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz in a statement. “Whatever assurances the police may give, there is no doubt that victims of crime will think twice before they go to the police charged with protecting all of our communities. We demand a full accounting for how Tukwila allowed this to happen, and a detailed plan for how the city will not allow this to happen again.”
Mitchell said the department is working toward rebuilding trust by reaching out to community members and organizations. The city hosted a “community listening session” Feb. 15 to discuss immigration, policing and safety.
“We’ve met with advocates to explain the situation to them, to ensure they understand the circumstances surrounding the incident and that we will not be responding to these types of warrants by U.S. ICE in the future,” Mitchell said. “We will continue this community engagement the coming weeks to reassure our community and our neighbors that we are there for them and to rebuild any trust that has been broken. It is vital every member of our community feel safe and comfortable when calling our police department for help.”
“We know that we need to rebuild trust,” said Mayor Allan Ekberg in an email. “I, the council and the police department are committed to doing just that. We have already enacted new procedures and I expect there will be additional changes coming in the near future so that we can do better. My heart is with our community and our actions will be on behalf of everyone. I know if any city can come together to rebuild trust it is Tukwila. I am personally committed to this effort, as is the police department, and I look forward to working with the community moving forward.”
The Reporter reached out to Macarreno’s lawyer but has not heard back by the press deadline. It is unclear how long Macarreno will be held at the Northwest Detention Center.