ACLU of Oregon sues ICE

American Civil Liberties Union accuses federal government of unconstitutional actions


This photo is an example of a identified ICE agent suiting up, likely for a bust. Unlike, the example in the story this man is clearly an ICE agent and is presenting himself as such. The agents refusal to identify themselves is part of the reason the ACLU of Oregon has decided to sue.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, also known by the popular acronym ICE, found itself under fire for targeting Oregon residents after a recent amount of problematic ICE encounters with Oregon citizens at the end of 2017.

For the past year ICE has been targeting people, mostly latinos and those who look muslim, as they exit courthouses demanding they answer questions. As the incidents continue to occur and members of these targeted groups have stopped showing up to court dates, the Oregon legislature is becoming increasingly concerned. Because of this, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is requesting information for ICE’s invasive presence around Oregon’s courthouses, arguing ICE must make themselves known to the public.  

ICE agents will impose themselves upon those near and around courthouses and conduct possibly unconstitutional action for their imposition upon Oregon citizens.

One of these incidents includes a widely circulated video of an encounter between ICE agents in street clothes approaching a man and his wife leaving a courthouse. Isidro Andrade-Tafolla, the man in the video, was aggressively questioned by the group of ICE agents, who consistently refused to identify themselves or offer up a warrant. As the ACLU volunteer recording the incident continues to question the agents, they show the man a photo of someone they are looking for and insist it is him. Both the man and his wife assert that it is not him and tell the ICE citizens he is a legal citizen, and as the couple continues to deny the accusations, the agents cease questioning and suddenly leave.
As only one of several cases similar to this one, the ICE presence in and around Oregon’s courthouses is acting as a deterrent for many people of color, causing them to avoid court business they need to conduct, even causing them to avoid jury duty.

Eliana Portillo, senior and legal immigrant from Honduras, is shocked and disappointed in the conflicts ICE has been causing for Oregon’s residents.

“I can maybe understand [ICE’s] actions if those they go after are are not a U.S citizen and are in fact illegal, but they shouldn’t be attacked for that. Most of those that come here came to this country to look for safety and other securities, and I’m sure they don’t want to be afraid to conduct their legal business.”

The ACLU has requested a number of different pieces of information about who ICE has questioned but still have not received any information since the request last October. Because of this, the ACLU is accusing the federal government of violating the Freedom of Information Act, a law that gives the public the right to access information from the federal government and any of its federal agencies.

Despite the fact that Oregon has declared itself a sanctuary state, meaning the state has chosen not to comply with federal standards of reporting illegals and doesn’t easily comply with federal law, Portillo still doesn’t think we should roll over and accept ICE’s actions. “If you look at statistics immigrants have helped our economy and have taken jobs that most people don’t want. It’s a benefit to everybody because they earn money and complete their taxes, and they should not be targeted.”

As tensions begin to rise, Oregon’s courthouse appearance numbers from POCs continues to suffer. The ACLU is urging profiled persons to not give up any information as they continue to work against ICE’s questionable actions.

This is not only a Oregon problem as ICE director Holman said in an interview that “ICE’s enforcement activities in these same courthouses are wholly consistent with [their] longstanding law enforcement practices, nationwide.”

Although ICE claims these actions are justified, Portillo is unsure if they realize the ramifications these secretive and invasive incidents will cause. “You get all these people that constantly complain that we [immigrants] don’t do our civic duty or we’re not being productive and everything and if people of color are being targeted trying to do what they need to do, then it’s like okay then.”

As the safety of Oregon citizens continues to be questioned, ICE and ACLU will likely be arguing on what “protection” of the public truly is. While the suit still stands and it is unclear whether ICE will submit to the ACLU’s requests, the consequence of ICE’s actions may have a greater impact than we can foresee. As for how this situation is affecting Oregon’s immigrants, people like Portillo hope that the situation can be remedied and that ICE can conduct their business in a less invasive way.“It hurts to know that this is happening honestly,” Portillo says. “If you’re trying to be a good person, you deserve to be here.”