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Conyers, Lofgren, Bonamici, Blumenauer Press ICE to Investigate Oregon Incident

September 22, 2017
Press Release
Judiciary Committee Leaders, Oregon Lawmakers Condemn Unjustified Questioning of U.S. Citizen in Washington County, Oregon

 

WASHINGTON, DC [09/22/17] – Today, House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Oregon Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) pressed the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fully investigate the actions of ICE officers toward a U.S. citizen outside of the Washington County, Oregon Courthouse.

On September 18, 2017, plainclothes ICE officers inappropriately identified Mr. Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, a long-time employee of Washington County and a U.S. citizen, as an undocumented immigrant. Without identifying themselves as federal officers, the agents demanded that Andrade-Tafolla provide his name and identification. When they apparently recognized their error, the agents then left without providing any explanation or apology. 

“The ICE detention and interrogation of a U.S. citizen, even for a brief period of time, is disturbing and possibly unconstitutional,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, this incident is even more troubling because the officers in question failed to identify themselves as ICE officers. Mr. Andrade-Tafolla had no way of knowing who the ICE officers were or whether they were kidnappers or participants in other criminal activity. The use of plainclothes officers who refuse to identify themselves as law enforcement officers is not conducive to a law enforcement mission and it harkens back to the use of secret police."

They continued, “We have repeatedly expressed our opposition to the expansion of immigration enforcement in our streets, courthouses, and communities. We have raised concerns that immigration enforcement could be used to racially profile, terrorize, and harass immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants. This case in Hillsboro exemplifies these concerns and demonstrates how expanded ICE enforcement affects citizens and immigrants alike.”

Earlier this year, Bonamici – supported by Blumenauer, Conyers, and Lofgren – 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:

This week, two plainclothes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers interrogated and questioned a United States Citizen in Hillsboro, Oregon.[1]  Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, a longtime Washington County employee, was approached by plainclothes ICE officers and asked for his name and identification.  A video of the encounter shows that Mr. Andrade-Tafolla and his wife repeatedly asked the officers for identification, told the officers that they did not know them, and asked them whether they worked for ICE.  The officers had no “ICE” insignia on their clothes and refused to identify themselves as ICE officers during the encounter. 

The plainclothes ICE officers showed Mr. Andrade-Tafolla a picture of another Latino man and stated that Mr. Andrade-Tafolla was their person of interest. Mr. Andrade-Tafolla and his wife explained that the man in the photograph was a different person, but the ICE officers did not leave. Finally, Mr. Andrade-Tafolla’s wife threatened to call the local police and the ICE officers left the scene.

The ICE detention and interrogation of a U.S. citizen, even for a brief period of time, is disturbing and possibly unconstitutional. However, this incident is even more troubling because the officers in question failed to identify themselves as ICE officers.  Mr. Andrade-Tafolla had no way of knowing who the ICE officers were or whether they were kidnappers or participants in other criminal activity.  The use of plainclothes officers who refuse to identify themselves as law enforcement officers is not conducive to a law enforcement mission and it harkens back to the use of secret police.   

We have repeatedly expressed our opposition to the expansion of immigration enforcement in our streets, courthouses, and communities.  We have raised concerns that immigration enforcement could be used to racially profile, terrorize, and harass immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants.  This case in Hillsboro exemplifies these concerns and demonstrates how expanded ICE enforcement affects citizens and immigrants alike.

We request that you inform us how the Department is responding to the Hillsboro incident and what steps ICE will be taking to ensure that future such incidents do not occur.  Please respond to the following questions by October 9, 2017.

 

1)Is ICE reviewing this incident 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 this incident 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)What apologies, if any, have been made to Mr. Isidro Andrade-Tafolla and his family?

7)Has ICE engaged with Hillsboro community in response to this incident and assured them that U.S. citizens will not be targeted for interrogation and/or apprehension?  If so, please explain.

Addressing the unlawful and improper apprehension of U.S. citizens is of utmost importance to us as Members of Congress.  We trust you will respond to this inquiry in an urgent matter.

Sincerely,

###

 


[1] Everton Bailey, Jr, ICE agents mistakenly try to grab Latino county worker near courthouse, The Oregonian (September 20, 2017) available at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2017/09/ice_mistakenly_tries_to_grab_l.html