Portland's immigrant community on edge after recent arrests and detentions


A flurry of activity by federal immigration agents has Portland's immigrant community on edge, with many wondering if they'll be next to face deportation.

Romeo Sosa, Executive Director of VOZ, a workers rights organization, manages a hotline for reporting ICE raids and said phone calls continue to come in at an alarming rate.

"One of the things that I'm seeing that I have never seen before is they don't have uniforms. And they have like unmarked cars. And they just stop, randomly, people who are going to the store or going to work," said Sosa.

Recently, the high-profile arrest and detention of Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez generated a protest by community members, calling for his immediate release.

Rodriguez, who was taken into custody because of a DUI conviction in December, was released on bail the next day.

Adding to immigrants' worries, recent scams have popped up in an attempt to capitalize on immigrants' fears.

"They're impersonating immigration officers. They're impersonating LAPD people," said Luis Garcia, a local immigration attorney.

Garcia said one of his clients, a woman with a pending immigration case, received a phone call from someone posing as a police officer who told her she needed to pay $300 or risk being arrested and detained.

Garcia said he's heard of at least two similar cases.

"I think these kind of schemes just pop up, but people don't report them because they're afraid," said Garcia.

Meanwhile, Sosa says the threat of arrest and deportation looms large.

"A lot of people, they are thinking to prepare themselves how to deal with this," said Sosa.

According to ICE, a total of 80 people were arrested during a three-day enforcement operation in Oregon and Washington in late March. Of those, 60 had criminal histories, 20 did not.

Nineteen people had DUI convictions, and 10 others had a history of assault or domestic violence, according to ICE.

ICE says enforcement actions will continue with officers targeting people considered threats to public safety.

Sosa says the actual number of serious offenders caught is underwhelming.

"It's unnecessary. I think they follow people who are not dangerous in the community," said Sosa.

Sosa and Garcia encourage all immigrants to learn their legal rights.

"Whether the police is making contact with you, or whether immigration officers are making contact with you, you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney," said Garcia.

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.



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