Blumenauer, Bonamici Urge ICE to Investigate Unjustified Questioning of U.S. Citizen in Washington County
HILLSBORO, OR – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) today sent a letter to the highest-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official in Oregon urging an investigation into the actions of multiple agents toward a U.S. citizen outside of the Washington County Courthouse on September 18, 2017.
According to a report in the Oregonian, ICE agents mistook Mr. Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, a long-time employee of Washington County, for an undocumented immigrant. The agents demanded Andrade-Tafolla provide his name and identification without identifying themselves as federal officers, then left without providing any explanation or apology.
“We urge an investigation into the events which occurred outside of the Washington County Courthouse,” wrote the lawmakers. “Demanding identification from United States citizens is unacceptable. Should the account in the Oregonian of the event be corroborated by an internal investigation, please describe to us the nature of any retraining or discipline that would result.”
Earlier this year, Bonamici– supported by Blumenauer – introduced legislation to prohibit immigration enforcement actions including arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance at "sensitive locations," including courthouses, medical or health care facilities, public and private schools, places of worship, and locations that provide emergency services.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Director Godfrey:
We were greatly disturbed to read an account in the Oregonian of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents attempting to detain a US citizen, Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, outside of the Washington County Courthouse on September 18, 2017. As Oregon officials have repeatedly made clear, targeting immigration enforcement in areas near courthouses deters individuals from accessing our justice system and is contrary to the fair administration of law in Oregon. More seriously, targeting U.S. citizens on the basis of race is a clear violation of their constitutional rights.
Based on Isidro’s account, the ICE agents demanded both his name and identification, yet the agents never explained why the information was needed. The ICE agents, furthermore, failed to identify themselves during their questioning. If true, this is contrary to our understanding of how federal officials faithfully execute the law.
We urge an investigation into the events which occurred outside of the Washington County Courthouse. Demanding identification from United States citizens is unacceptable. Should the account in the Oregonian of the event be corroborated by an internal investigation, please describe to us the nature of any retraining or discipline that would result
Additionally, to help us better understand how these events could occur, please supply answers to the following questions:
- Under ICE procedures, can ICE agents remain anonymous when they choose to detain or question a person? If so, please provide us the legal authority authorizing this practice.
- If ICE agents conceal their identity during attempts to detain individuals, please provide evidence demonstrating that this practice improves public safety.
- Under what legal authority can ICE agents demand the identification of United States citizens when questioning a person?
We look forward to your responses. At minimum, we hope that your agency sees fit to apologize to Mr. Andrade-Tafolla for this mistreatment.