Wilson Rodriguez Macarreno called his local Seattle-area police department one morning last week when he saw a stranger breaking into his car.
When the cops arrived, they found the inteuder nearby and “determined him to be trespassing,” according to the Seattle Times, “but they didn’t have probable cause to arrest him, according to Officer Victor Masters of the Tukwila Police Department. So they let him go.”
The officers on the scene, however, decided to arrest Macarreno instead and turn him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when a routine search with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) revealed an outstanding 14-year-old ICE “warrant” attached to his record. His two children were inside his home at the time.
Macarreno fled the violence in his native Honduras over 15 years ago. After a minor brush with immigration in 2004, he’s since been a steadily working carpenter and has even started a family. His record is otherwise clean.
That 2004 ‘run in’ with ICE, as his lawyer called it, however, resulted in whats called an “administrative warrant” for failing to appear at a scheduled hearing – not a criminal warrant. The NCIC database, however, didn’t make the distinction clear.
“ICE warrants differ from criminal ones in a crucial way,” Macarreno’s lawyers told the Seattle Times. “ICE’s ‘administrative’ documents are not signed by a judge. So, he said, ‘there’s no oversight by a third party’ who assesses probable cause.”
“I almost hesitate to call them warrants,” Jorge Barón, executive director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, told the Times.
Tukwila police realized the difference between the two types of warrants later, but not before they dropped Macarreno off at a nearby ICE office, where he now sits awaiting his fate and the real prospect of deportation to Honduras.
The Tukwila Police Department, to the credit, appears to be trying to fix the situation, as the are now “talking with ICE to determine what kind of warrant, exactly, ICE had issued in the Rodriguez Macarreno case and whether it is something the department is going to be seeing more of in the future,” the same Seattle Times piece reports.
Seattle and its surrounding suburbs are not typically overzealous about