King County employees were never trained to deny ICE access to information, despite new law

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King County passed a law last year prohibiting local officials from sharing people’s personal information with federal immigration agents, unless the agents have a judicial warrant.

The 15-page ordinance   included one line that, it turns out, was crucial to making sure immigration enforcement didn’t get the information: “The executive shall ensure that all King County employees and agents receive appropriate training on the implementation of the provisions of this section.”

But that training never happened. So county employees never updated an old online jail database and the King County Sheriff’s Office didn’t change its practices.

And Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers accessed private information on the jail database more than 1,000 times after the law passed, while the sheriff’s office sent ICE 25 unredacted case files, both in violation of county code.

“How did this happen?” said Megan Ko, one of the authors of  a county auditor’s report  made public on Tuesday that uncovered the mail data discloures. “They were not trained how to comply. Code requires that the executive train agencies, but does not specify when to train agencies.”

Ko said the county’s public health department was trained on data collection and privacy to comply with the new law, but little was done at other agencies, including the jail and the sheriff’s office.

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