“This fall, two controversial arrests in the Portland area raised fears that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are breaking federal laws and their own rules,” Willamette Week writes. Willamette Week is an alternative newspaper serving the Portland area.
The offensive arrest, according to the newspaper, is that of an illegal immigrant convicted of driving under the influence. Immigration officials had not been able to locate the man and learned he might be going to Legacy Emanuel Hospital. When he did, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made contact with him at a bus stop located near the hospital, but not on hospital grounds.
Williamette Week reported from an ICE statement:
“[The man] was arrested by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations officers near but not on Legacy Emanuel Medical Center property after efforts to locate him elsewhere proved unsuccessful,” the agency said in a statement. “The required authorization was obtained in advance of the arrest.”
The newspaper and the local chapter of the ACLU complain this is not fair and violates a “sensitive locations” policy within ICE. They also claim that arresting criminal aliens is also illegal.
Legacy Emanuel Health Center also spoke out on the issue stating, “We have clear and convincing proof that ICE violated its sensitive space policy by coming onto the campus,” Legacy Health spokesman Brian Terrett told the newspaper. “We made it very clear that we did not want to see a repeat of their behavior on any of our medical campuses. It is our expectation that they never come on to any of our campuses ever again.”
The article also references an incident that occurred in September when a man, who later turned out to be a U.S. citizen, was stopped by ICE officers and questioned about his identity.
U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) demanded answers from ICE officials after officers stopped a man on September 18 in the Washington County, Oregon, courthouse and asked him for his identification, Breitbart Texas reported about a statement from the congresswoman’s office. When the officers learned the man was a U.S. citizen and not the suspect they were searching for, they went on with their business and did not detain the man she identified as Isidro Andrade-Tafolla. The man is said to be a long-time employee of the county government.
Breitbart Texas reached out to ICE officials on Wednesday morning for comment. A few hours later, ICE officials responded and wrote:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and special agents conduct targeted enforcement actions every day in support of the agency’s mission, which includes enforcing more than 400 federal laws and statutes. During such operations, the officers and special agents may encounter and engage with individuals whom they ultimately determine are not the intended arrest targets or possible witnesses.
In this instance our officers went to a specific location seeking a particular individual and interacted with someone whom they believed resembled our arrest target. It turned out the man was not the target and no further action was taken.
When conducting at-large arrests and other field operations, ICE officers are instructed to take environmental conditions into account and make determinations regarding their level of visibility in order to protect themselves and the public. In high visibility situations, ICE officers use several means to identify themselves including, but not limited to, wearing placards or clothing that clearly identifies them as immigration officers. However, in certain situations high visibility hinders or endangers safety and officers may decide not to broadcast their identity. Even in low visibility situations, officers are required to identify themselves to individuals if interacting with them as part of their official duties. These practices are consistent with those of other non-uniformed law enforcement agencies.
ACLU officials said these are just a couple of incidents they know about.
“[For] any of these actions that we’ve recorded or have reported on, there are likely dozens or more happening here in Oregon and around the nation every month that we just never hear about,” American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon Legal Director Mat dos Santos told the Willamette Week reporter. “If ICE can’t admit that their agents may be violating policy, I have no hope that we might see a decrease in these kinds of illegal arrests.”
In regard to the arrest that occurred near the Portland hospital the newspaper states:
The agency’s own policies, written in 2011, make clear that hospitals are among the locations where immigration agents are not supposed to arrest or detain people. The rulebook says, in part:
“Pursuant to ICE policy, enforcement actions are not to occur at or be focused on sensitive locations. Locations treated as sensitive locations under ICE policy would include, but are not be limited to:
Medical treatment and health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities.”
However, the arrest did not occur in a hospital. It occurred at a bus stop near the hospital. This is likely not a violation of the rule. However, ICE officials are “reviewing both of these incidents,” the newspaper reported.