Since May 7, 2019, ICE has been transferring detainees to/from southern border towns and to/from the Northwest Detention Center (recently “rebranded”) in Tacoma through the Yakima Airport. For details of why the flights moved to Yakima and the subsequent attempts from the community to stop these flights, please read the articles below.
YIRN has been bearing witness to these dehumanizing transfers since they began in Yakima. Detainees who arrive on the Swift Air flights from El Paso, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas, or World Atlantic Airlines flights from San Antonio, are then bused to the private, for-profit prison in Tacoma called the Northwest ICE Processing Center (formerly the Northwest Detention Center) run by the GEO Group.
Detainees who arrive on GEO Group Transportation Division buses (white buses with darkened, grilled windows) from Tacoma, must board the plane to be flown to the border towns of Phoenix, El Paso or Brownsville for deportation, or on to Miami for deportation flights to Central America.
Detainees are about 80% male and 20% female and predominantly Hispanic-appearing. Occasionally, Africans, Asians, and Middle-Easterners are also transported from border cities to Yakima to be detained in Tacoma.
It is shocking to witness the way all detainees are treated by ICE and GEO Group. Asylum seekers who have broken no laws, those who have fallen out of lawful status, undocumented migrants with or without misdemeanor charges, and felons – all are treated the same, as if they were hardened criminals. Detainees are all locked into leg shackles and handcuffs chained to their waist. Shackled detainees must climb up and down the flight stairs without help, a practice that even the City of Yakima and Airport authorities recognize is dangerous for the detainees.
Corporate entities that benefit from these flights: Swift Air, World Atlantic Airlines, GEO Group, McCormick Air Center and the public entity, Yakima Air Terminal.
As of September 30, 2019, over 2,500 detainees have been transferred through the Yakima airport.
ICE flights continue in the Northwest despite coronavirus – KUOW/NPR – March 20, 2020
Searching for airports to host deportation flights, ICE gets rejected in Everett and Bellingham – Crosscut – October 3, 2019
Report: ICE flights deepen Yakima’s involvement in national immigration enforcement – Yakima Herald – August 21, 2019
Data: Flying through Yakima to Tacoma equals increased chance of deportation for asylum seekers – Yakima Herald – August 21, 2019
Report Criticizes Yakima For ICE Deportation Flights, As City Explains Financial Quandary – Northwest Public Broadcasting, August 21, 2019
ICE Air Expands Yakima’s Role in the Detention and Deportation Pipeline – University of Washington Center for Human Rights – August 20, 2019
DHS Document Reveals Allegations of Abuse on ICE Air Deportation Flights – University of Washington Center for Human Rights – August 16, 2019
Yakima council doesn’t have the votes to challenge ICE flights – Yakima Herald July 17, 2019
Community Information Packet presented at the City Council meeting by YIRN
Yakima City Council discussion about having a discussion on July 16 about ICE Flights – Start at approx 57:33 and watch through 1:07:54
In Yakima, ICE Air flights bring money, fear and division: The flights were banned from Seattle’s Boeing Field by county government. Could the same happen in Central Washington? – CrossCut – May 22, 2019
Community speaks out against ICE-chartered flights in Yakima – Yakima Herald – May 22, 2019
People want ICE flights out of Yakima to stop – KNDU – May 22, 2019
ICE Flights continue – KEPR News – May 21, 2019
ICE flights continue in Yakima with more people picked up Tuesday – Yakima Herald – May 14, 2019
Yakima now a regular stop for ICE flights – Yakima Herald – May 10, 2019
ICE flight lands in Yakima to drop off, pick up undocumented immigrants – Yakima Herald – May 9, 2019
Blocked from Boeing Field in Seattle, ICE flies to Yakima instead – CrossCut – May 7, 2019
ICE flights will no longer use Boeing Field – Seattle Times – May 2, 2019
Over eight years, the government has deported about 34,000 people via Boeing Field. King County wants it stopped – Seattle Times – April 24, 2019
Deported immigrants get flight on ‘ICE Air’ – AP – December 2018 (this was not filmed in Yakima, but it’s EXACTLY what we’re seeing here .. just closer up!)
ICE Air: The Airline You Never Want To Fly – NPR – September 26, 2018
Read the recent study from UW and news reports on the moving of ICE Mass Deportation Flights to the Yakima Airport!
Hidden in Plain Sight: ICE Air and the Machinery of Mass Deportation – University of Washington Center for Human Rights – April 23, 2019
King County Collaboration with ICE Air Deportation Flights at Boeing Field – University of Washington Center for Human Rights – April 23, 2019
(in a different location)
If you’d like to observe the transfer of detainees at the Yakima Airport’s ICE Air flights, watch the announcements on our Facebook page.