TACOMA, Wash. – Washington State Patrol is investigating a trooper to determine if he violated policy by advising ICE of a deported felon.

According to the News Tribune, the man in question was involved in a minor collision on Interstate 5 in Tacoma. The Washington State Patrol has a policy of not detaining or questioning people based on their immigration status.

State Patrol identifies deported felon

But when a trooper did a routine check of the man’s driver’s license, a warning appeared from federal authorities indicating Armando Chavez Corona was a deported felon. The data indicated he had previously been convicted of a drug charge, said the police.

Accordingly, the trooper acted with due diligence by contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to confirm the details of the warning. Less than two hours later, ICE agents arrived to take Chavez Corona into custody, according to a timeline provided by the State Patrol.

Federal custody

On Wednesday, ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson said Chavez Corona is in federal custody awaiting deportation.

“Relevant databases indicate Mr. Chavez is a previously deported criminal with an aggravated felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance and a conviction in the U.S. District Court for illegal re-entry,” Richeson wrote in an emailed statement. “He was removed to Mexico on four separate occasions between 1996 to 2000.”


Unfortunate reaction

Sadly, local news reports, the governor, and his agency are reacting as if the trooper was in the wrong. Did they somehow miss the fact this man was a previously deported felon, not once, but four times?

Consequently, an administrative review is underway to determine whether the State Patrol followed its own policies in the case of Chavez Corona, State Patrol spokesman Kyle Moore said.

“We’re not federal agents and that’s not our role. Our role is to keep our roadways safe,” Moore said Wednesday.

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The State Patrol’s internal policies indicate they will “not stop, detain or interrogate or place an immigration hold on any person solely for the purpose of ascertaining immigration status or in any other way attempt to enforce federal immigration laws.”

Yet Moore confirmed that state troopers and dispatchers retain the ability to contact ICE to inquire about a case or to notify federal authorities if they arrest someone for criminal activity who might be in the country illegally.

Moore said a trooper may decide to inquire about an ICE warning to get more information about a person’s criminal history, such as if he or she is likely to have a gun.

Moreover, the agency said Chavez Corona was never arrested by the trooper or detained for any time beyond what it took to clear the scene of the accident. It was during that time, ICE agents arrived to take Chavez Corona into custody.

Though the State Patrol did alert immigrations officials of Chavez Corona’s location and involvement in the accident, “It is completely up to ICE whether they would respond or not,” Moore said.

Governor response

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee spoke out against state troopers and local police acting as “Mini-immigration agencies.” He makes the assertion it could erode trust in local law enforcement and discourage people from reporting crimes.

Apparently gaining trust of legal-law-abiding citizens is of less concern.

Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Inslee, confirmed Wednesday that a review was underway to ensure the patrol wasn’t violating its policies.

“The governor takes very seriously the need to make sure all residents of Washington feel safe in their interactions with the men and women in our state patrol, particularly given the anxiety that many in our state are feeling right now,” Smith said.

Smith used the word “all” in the statement. Again, they seem to forget the citizens that support deporting convicted felons that are in the country illegally.

(Feature image is file photo)

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