ICE-chartered flights out of Yakima carrying less people during pandemic

Ice Flight

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — There are fewer detainees flying in and out of Washington state on flights chartered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Yakima this year compared to last year, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

From January through July 20, 28 flights chartered through Swift Air have flown in and out of the Yakima Air Terminal at McAllister Field.

Some flights have arrived from Denver, Las Vegas, Mesa, Ariz. and El Paso, Texas. People have arrived from or were transported to the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma, also known as the Northwest Detention Center.

Data from the Yakima Immigrant Response Network estimated at least 169 detainees have deplaned and were taken to the detention center and about 1,029 arrived from the center to board planes.

The Yakima Immigrant Response Network is a Yakima County-based group of volunteers working to support immigrant communities throughout the Yakima Valley.

From May through November 2019, when the flights started, the group estimated more than 2,850 people were transported to or from the Yakima airport.

ICE-chartered flights have been a source of controversy, but will likely continue weekly during the pandemic through the start of 2021, the newspaper reported.

ICE has said on its website that the pandemic has changed some of its operations, including how many people are detained in facilities nationwide, which could affect the numbers of those flying in and out of Yakima.

“The health, welfare and safety of detainees is one of the agency’s highest priorities,” according to the website.