One night in April, a deputy at the Clark County Jail tipped off agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The jail had, the deputy said, a “possible deportable individual.”
A Mexico-born man in his 50s had been arrested that day for second-degree assault. But he wasn’t on federal officers' radar — until they received the tip. Half an hour later, an ICE officer said thanks.
“He looks like someone we’d definitely target,” wrote ICE’s Conrad Salvato around 8 p.m. to Deputy Brian Dayley. “I’ll place a hold on him in the morning and if he releases, we’ll take custody of him. Thanks for the referral.”
The email exchange is one of several over the next day showing a cozy relationship between immigration agents and staff within the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. A staffer offered to help the federal officers in the future and cheered their efforts to arrest and deport the man.
“Great job! Go get him!” a separate staffer wrote to Salvato shortly before the man’s arrest.
The emails are now part of the man’s legal defense. Joel Alcazar Anguiano is currently in Mexico, but his trial is ongoing. His criminal defense attorney, John Terry, moved last week for the case to be dismissed.
Terry’s argument rests in part on the emails and security footage he accessed through a subpoena. He said the records show Clark County Jail staff violated sanctuary laws in Washington, and the case should be dismissed.
After a summer of hearings on systemic racism in the region, the emails seemed to show a shell game with federal immigration authorities that undermines the trust of local Latinos, said the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
“(Sheriff Chuck Atkins) is constantly telling us ‘My staff and I are in sync,’” said league president Ed Hamilton Rosales. “That feeling of safety that he was trying to provide the Latinx community is being undermined by what his staff is actually doing.”
For Terry, the way jail staff warmed up to ICE agents and coordinated together is also a question of legality.
In 2019, Washington legislators passed the Keep Washington Working Act, which aimed to curb how often state and local law enforcement would detain a person when the federal immigration agency issues an “ICE detainer.”
The law also narrowed the ways state and local agencies can share information when the crimes at hand aren’t federal crimes like drug or human trafficking.
“If somebody is having a local charge, the idea is we shouldn’t have our local law enforcement then be going out of their way to contact immigration enforcement to share nonpublic information about that individual or question them about their immigration status,” said Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
The law also made it illegal to collect certain information about arrestees, such as citizenship status and place of birth.
Anguiano was arrested April 22 for second-degree assault. Records show Clark County listed Anguiano’s place of birth as Mexico on a jail booking sheet. Hours later, ICE agents issued the detainer and arrest warrant.
“Thanks Brian. He’s good to go. We just placed a detainer on him,” Salvato wrote after Dayley reached out, emails show.
Around the same time, the ICE officer reached out to a staffer for a copy of Anguiano’s mugshot and arrest report.
“I enjoy helping out,” County staffer Betsy Di Grigoli told the agent. But then she said he might have some difficulty getting the arrest report from the criminal records department. “The report is not approved yet so I could not send it to you. Unfortunately, you may get the same response from them when you request it… just a heads up. Thank you for all that you do out there!”
Di Grigoli offered to help more in the future.
“If you ever need a report like in this case, don’t hesitate to ask,” the staffer wrote. “I will do my best because it will save you precious time.”
OPB reached out to Di Grigoli and Dayley for comment through the sheriff’s office but did not hear back.
Meanwhile, Anguiano’s family paid bail through a bail bondsman, according to his attorney. Bail was set at $35,000, and the family paid the A-Affordable Bail Bonds $3,500.
As the jail prepared to release Anguiano, Dayley reached out again to federal immigration officers. “Appears he is in the release list for today,” Dayley wrote at 4 p.m. The ICE employee thanked him again.
To make the arrest, Terry said Clark County staff allowed ICE agents to access the jail’s sally port — a restricted area. Terry said he subpoenaed surveillance footage inside the jail that has not been made publicly available.
Agents then transported Anguiano to an immigration detention facility in Tacoma. He was ultimately deported May 12. His criminal case hasn’t concluded. He has attended hearings via Zoom.
Before his deportation, Terry said he lobbied the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office to issue a warrant that would order Anguiano returned from Tacoma to face trial. The office declined, Terry said.
“He will be deported tomorrow. Did you want your warrant before ICE deports him???” Terry wrote in a May 11 email, according to his motion.
“Thanks for your email,” the deputy prosecutor replied, according to Terry’s motion. “We do not get involved with ICE matters.”
Terry argues the court should dismiss the case due to government misconduct. He said the sheriff’s office violated the Keep Washington Working Act. He also argues prosecutors and the court itself could have stopped the deportation with a warrant.
“Defendant is now in Mexico and can only appear to court by Zoom,” Terry wrote. “Without being able to be physically present, defendant cannot have a jury trial. Because defendant cannot have a jury trial, it is certainly obvious that defendant’s right to a fair trial has been materially affected.”
Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik declined to comment for this article but said his office will respond to Terry’s motion for dismissal in court.
“I don’t know what exactly our response will be at this point, but it’s generally not appropriate to argue the details of the case in the media,” he told OPB on Monday.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office did not say if it acted illegally, but said the officer who reached out to ICE was “relatively new to this position and thought he was doing the right thing.”
“He has now been retrained and correctly understands the will of the Sheriff’s Office,” wrote undersheriff John Chapman.
Chapman said the jail deputy saw a “red flag” on his computer as they lodged Anguiano, which indicated “some kind of notice from ICE.” He said they were unable to determine what the flag was.
Anguiano had been previously deported six years ago, according to ICE spokesperson Tanya Roman, with prior felony convictions for assault and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
Katie Kauffman, an attorney representing Anguiano’s family so they are not held liable for the $35,000 owed to A-Affordable, said neither the prior conviction nor the red flag have any bearing on the jail’s latest actions.
“They’re precluded by law from providing certain information that’s nonpublic to immigration and other government agencies, and that’s exactly what they did here,” Kauffman said, “which is provide information about when they’re going to be released, and coordinating with them to have ICE pick him up before he even leaves the front door of the jail.”
“That is exactly what that law prevents — but they did it anyway,” Kauffman added.
This kind of cooperation is ICE’s preference, an official told OPB. The ICE official said without such cooperation, they make arrests in the community, “instead of a secure, jail environment.”
“Sanctuary policies restrict most forms of cooperation with federal immigration authorities and vastly impede ICE’s ability to work with partner agencies,” the official said.
Chapman’s statements did not answer a question about how often jail staff communication with ICE. Sgt. Brent Waddell, a spokesman, reiterated that the office, as a policy, does not reach out to ICE.
“We don’t reach out to ICE,” Waddell said. “We as an organization don’t reach out to ICE. But if they have their warrant, they could contact us at that point.”