Is the issue land use or Trump’s politics? Northwest Detention Center sues Tacoma over move to restrict expansion

The Tacoma City Council began looking at ways to limit the expansion of the Northwest Detention Center early last year, soon after President Donald Trump took office. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)
The Tacoma City Council began looking at ways to limit the expansion of the Northwest Detention Center early last year, soon after President Donald Trump took office. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

The lawsuit claims Tacoma has tried to keep the detention center from expanding because the City Council objects to President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policies. A deputy city attorney says the city is just trying to protect valuable land in the Port of Tacoma.

The private company that runs the immigrant-detention center on Tacoma’s Tideflats is suing over an ordinance the City Council passed that makes it almost impossible for the detention center to expand.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the GEO Group claimed the ordinance “purports to restrict the current use” of its property in Tacoma. The GEO Group runs the detention center, which holds 1,575 detainees, on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The lawsuit claims the city tried to use its ordinance to prevent the detention center from expanding because the council has political objections to the aggressive immigration policies of President Donald Trump, who has directed an increase in roundups and deportations of people living here illegally.

A deputy city attorney said in a statement the ordinance was meant to protect economically valuable land in the Port of Tacoma from encroachment by nonindustrial…

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