Human Rights at Home

At the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, our research team is examining the human rights implications of contemporary immigration enforcement in Washington state.

Read our latest reports

At the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, our research team is examining the human rights implications of contemporary immigration enforcement in Washington state.

Read our latest reports

Immigrant Rights in Washington State

At a time of heightened concern about immigration, it is more important than ever to understand the policies our government has implemented at the local, state, and federal level to handle immigration, and to examine the effects of these policies on the lives and liberties of all Washingtonians. Read our most recent research reports here.

From a human rights point of view, states are entitled to use immigration laws to regulate entry of foreigners; our research is not aimed at challenging the fact that federal immigration law limits entry for some people under some circumstances. However, the U.S. Constitution and international human rights agreements require that all laws be written and implemented in a manner that respects the core rights of all people. Real or imagined security concerns should not override core liberties. While our research is still ongoing, we have uncovered troubling indications that such principles are not always being upheld in our state. Find out more about our major research initiatives below:

Immigrant Rights Observatory

In partnership with a coalition of advocacy and grassroots organizations, our team is working to monitor compliance with Washington state laws protecting immigrant rights, including the 2019 Keep Washington Working Act and the 2020 Courts Open To All Act. Using public records requests and community outreach, we seek to understand how the detention and deportation pipeline operates in Washington state, and how local and state policy can best protect the human rights and civil liberties of all residents. We expect to share preliminary results from this initiative in 2021.

Immigration Detention in the Pacific Northwest

Alongside organizations led by people impacted by immigration detention, we work to document human rights conditions and shed light on little-known forms of detention. Our research includes a series of reports on human rights conditions at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, on topics including food and sanitation; allegations of medical neglect; use of solitary confinement; and COVID-19 and health standards. We have also researched detention of immigrant youth at juvenile jails in the Pacific Northwest, including at Cowlitz Youth Services Center in Longview, WA; and NORCOR in The Dalles, OR.

ICE Air Deportation Flights

ICE Air is the for-profit network of charter airlines used by ICE to carry out deportation flights and transfers of detained people. Our research has documented the operations of ICE Air globally and in Washington state. In 2019, air service providers at Boeing Field in King County, WA voluntarily agreed to stop serving deportation flights. Since 2019, we have worked with community observers to monitor ongoing deportation flights via Yakima, WA.

Strategic Freedom of Information Litigation

We believe that access to information is a human right, and we work to defend that right through strategic litigation, including a 2018 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DHS, ICE, and CBP.