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Bonamici, Blumenauer Again Press ICE to Investigate Oregon Incidents

October 20, 2017
Press Release
Lawmakers Say Incidents at Washington County Courthouse, Portland Home Undermine Public Confidence in Agency

WASHINGTON, DC [10/20/17] – Today Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) again pressed the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to answer questions about ICE procedures and polices after a video emerged of plainclothes ICE officers arresting an individual at what appears to be a private home in Oregon.

In September, Bonamici and Blumenauer asked ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and ICE Acting Field Office Director Elizabeth Godfrey to investigate a September 18 incident near the Washington County Courthouse and to provide answers about ICE agency policies for interrogation and apprehension. They have heard from the Field Office, but not the Acting Director in Washington, DC.

“Without a response, we will assume that an investigation into the Washington County incident is not underway. Now after this most recent incident, it is even more disturbing to witness ICE agents act inappropriately again, only a month later,” the lawmakers wrote. “Director Godfrey emphasized the need for public trust in law enforcement and the ICE agency. We share that goal, but these two recent examples of inappropriate behavior by ICE agents are serious threats to people we represent, and they undermine public confidence in the integrity of the agency.”

 Earlier this year, Bonamici and Blumenauer introduced legislation to prohibit immigration enforcement actions, including arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance, at "sensitive locations," including courthouses.

The full text of the letter is available here or below.

 

Dear Acting Director Homan:

We write today because we are deeply concerned about an incident that occurred on October 19, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. As shown on a video recorded by George Cardenas, who was present at the time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers appear to have illegally entered a private home, refused to identify themselves, handcuffed a person, arrested him, removed him from the home, and held him in custody for several hours. Your agency issued a statement stating that the person was later released from custody pending further investigation.

This incident is similar to one in Washington County, Oregon on September 18, 2017, during which plainclothes ICE agents surrounded a gentleman who is US citizen and demanded he show identification. We wrote to you about that incident in letter dated September 20, 2017, and we have received no response from the top ICE office.  As explained in that letter, we are requesting information about your agency's policies and procedures for enforcement actions. Although we appreciate the response from Acting Field Office Director Elizabeth Godfrey, we still have serious concerns about the contradictions between Director Godfrey’s account of the incident and a video released by ACLU of Oregon.

Without a response, we will assume that an investigation into the Washington County incident is not underway. Now after this most recent incident, it is even more disturbing to witness ICE agents act inappropriately again, only a month later.

Director Godfrey emphasized the need for public trust in law enforcement and the ICE agency. We share that goal, but these two recent examples of inappropriate behavior by ICE agents are serious threats to people we represent, and they undermine public confidence in the integrity of the agency.  

We request that you inform us how the agency is responding to both the confrontation on September 18, 2017 and arrest on October 19, 2017, and that you explain what steps ICE will be taking to make sure future such incidents do not occur.

1)Is ICE reviewing these incidents to determine if all agency policies were followed?

2)What is the ICE protocol regarding the use of plainclothes agents?  Please provide the policy memo or requisite regulation.

3)Are ICE officers required to identify themselves when asked?  If so, please provide the relevant policy memo or regulation.

4)Have the ICE officers involved in these incidents been disciplined?  If so, what disciplinary actions have been taken?

5)What criteria do ICE officers use to identify an individual from a photograph? How does ICE ensure that photographs are not used in furtherance of racial profiling? Please provide the relevant policy memo or regulation.

6)Under what circumstances are ICE officers able to enter private property without a warrant? If so, please provide the relevant policy memo or regulation.

7)What apologies, if any, have been made to the individuals affected by the two incidents?

8)Has ICE engaged with the Oregon public in response to these incidents? If so, please explain.

We look forward to your response, the results of the investigation, and an explanation of the consequences for agents who violate the law and internal policies.

Sincerely,

 

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