OR lawmakers call on ICE to investigate questioning of Hispanic - KPTV - FOX 12

OR lawmakers call on ICE to investigate questioning of Hispanic man outside courthouse

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Incident outside the Washington County Courthouse on Monday. (KPTV) Incident outside the Washington County Courthouse on Monday. (KPTV)
Isidro Tofolla (KPTV) Isidro Tofolla (KPTV)

A pair of Oregon lawmakers are calling on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate the actions of ICE agents outside the Washington County Courthouse toward a Hispanic man who is a U.S. citizen.

FOX 12 cameras were rolling as a group of people approached Isidro Tafolla after a march Monday at the Washington County Courthouse. He said without identifying themselves as federal officers, they showed him a mug shot claiming it was him and stated he was in the U.S. illegally.

It wasn’t him. Tafolla is a Washington County employee.

“I think they’re doing the racial profiling on my part, because I’m Hispanic. I look Hispanic, I am Hispanic, however I am a legal citizen, a U.S. citizen,” Tafolla told FOX 12.

ICE confirmed its officers were caught on camera by the ACLU in prior incidents at the courthouse taking people into custody without badges or obvious law enforcement identification.  

“It’s disturbing, it’s discrimination in all aspects from their behalf,” Tafolla said. “They’re not even professionally approaching people, like to have respect and show respect for people.”

On Wednesday, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici sent a letter to the highest-ranking ICE official in Oregon regarding the incident.

The lawmakers cited a story in the Oregonian that was preceded by FOX 12’s report on the incident.    

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.

ICE released a statement to FOX 12 on Wednesday about the incident. 

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.

The ACLU of Oregon also released a statement Wednesday, along with additional video of the incident. 

ICE will be hearing from us about this incident. This is a clear case of racial profiling. ICE can't just go around stopping anyone who looks Latino and asking them to show their papers. This is America.
Oregon officials have asked ICE to stop prowling our courthouses. This predatory behavior from ICE has the very real effect of scaring off witnesses and defendants from coming to court, which is a huge problem for our local communities. ICE needs to get out of courthouses.

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