Schrader, Bonamici, Blumenauer Call for Hearings to Investigate Oregon ICE Incidents

Lawmakers Say Incidents near Washington County Courthouse, Portland Home Undermine Public Confidence in Agency

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Washington, D.C., October 25, 2017 | comments

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) called on the Judiciary and the Oversight and Government Reform Committees to exercise their oversight authority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and hold hearings about the agency’s policies and procedures.

Last month, the Members called on ICE’s Portland Field Office to refrain from conducting mass, untargeted deportation raids, and to avoid targeting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, known as Dreamers, and their families.

“These incidents, several of which are recorded on video, call into question whether ICE officials are conducting themselves in full accordance with federal law and agency policies and procedures,” wrote the lawmakers. “In the last several months there have been multiple allegations of ICE officers around the country failing to follow proper protocol, potentially acting in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights in some instances.”

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

The letter to the House Judiciary Committee continues, “These questionable actions by ICE are perpetuating fear in our communities and raising concerns about safety. At this hearing, we also hope you will discuss H.R. 1815, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act. This legislation would codify existing ICE guidance regarding enforcement actions at community spaces deemed “sensitive locations,” and would expand the definition to include courthouses and other places where members of our communities access vital public services. Codifying this policy would be a significant step in protecting public safety and making sure that all community members, both citizens and non-citizens, are not deterred from accessing services such as education, health care, and the justice system.”

The full text of the letters to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is available below.

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members,

We write to respectfully request that you immediately convene a hearing to investigate recent incidents of grave concern involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in our home state and around the country. These incidents, several of which are recorded on video, call into question whether ICE officials are conducting themselves in full accordance with federal law and agency policies and procedures.

In the last several months there have been multiple allegations of ICE officers around the country failing to follow proper protocol, potentially acting in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights in some instances. If those officers were in fact following procedure, they clearly conducted themselves in a troubling manner that raises questions about whether those procedures need to be improved and if officers receive sufficient training. We would like to bring to your attention two particular events that occurred recently in Oregon.

On September 18, 2017, plainclothes ICE officers approached Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, a United States citizen, and his wife near the Washington County Courthouse in Hillsboro, Oregon. The officers began asking questions and demanded that Isidro provide identification, yet the officers ignored multiple requests by Mr. Andrade-Tafolla and his wife to show credentials or identify themselves. When the officers realized Mr. Andrade-Tafolla was not the intended target of their enforcement action, they left without providing any explanation.

Additionally, on October 19, 2017, plainclothes ICE officers reportedly entered a private residence in apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment without a warrant or permission to enter and arrested an individual working in the home. ICE has since stated that the matter is under agency review. These events demonstrate the urgent need for your Committee to provide additional Congressional oversight.

Following these two disturbing events, we sent several inquiries to ICE requesting information. On September 22, 2017, we joined Ranking Member Conyers and Ranking Member Lofgren in sending a letter to ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan expressing our concerns and requesting answers to a list of questions by October 9, 2017. We have yet to receive a response from Acting Director Homan. After the most recent ICE incident in our state, we sent Director Homan a subsequent letter dated October 20, 2017.

These questionable actions by ICE are perpetuating fear in our communities and raising concerns about safety. At this hearing, we also hope you will discuss H.R. 1815, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act. This legislation would codify existing ICE guidance regarding enforcement actions at community spaces deemed “sensitive locations,” and would expand the definition to include courthouses and other places where members of our communities access vital public services. Codifying this policy would be a significant step in protecting public safety and making sure that all community members, both citizens and non-citizens, are not deterred from accessing services such as education, health care, and the justice system.

We look forward to working with you to provide continued oversight of ICE in order to improve its policies, procedures, and training. We are confident you share our goals of increased public accountability, trust, and safety.

Sincerely,

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