Monday morning vigil aims to bring transparency to ICE arrests

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HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Several Oregon groups believe Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation agents are using courthouses to make arrests.

Monday, before court cases start, the ACLU Oregon, Unite Oregon and clergy members will gather in front of the Washington County Courthouse to host a "Sanctuary in the Streets" vigil.

“We are doing the vigil because we want to uplift and showcase how ICE is violating people’s rights and are really engaging in predatory tactics that are attacking our communities and separating our families,” said Unite Oregon’s Yanely Rivas.

The vigil highlights the arrests inside and outside of the Washington County courthouse.

“ICE operates in secret without any oversight and with virtually no accountability,” the ACLU Oregon Legal Director Mat Dos Santos said. “The vigil we are holding is an important response to ICE’s cruel and inhumane tactics here in Oregon. They are targeting Oregonians and in Washington County in particular.”

The ACLU and Unite Oregon believe ICE has made more than 10 arrests. The organizations believe ICE agents are targeting traffic courts, specifically DUII cases. The ACLU released this information to KATU:

On May 22, 2017, we witnessed three arrests of folks leaving the WACO courthouse, including a mother with two children waiting for her at a babysitters.
On June 7, 2017, we know that ICE arrested a father of three in the parking lot outside of the WACO courthouse after he visited the court to pay a traffic fine.
On July 31, 2017, we understand that ICE arrested three people in the 4th floor hallway of the WACO courthouse.
Last Monday, September 11, 2017, we filmed one ICE arrest at the WACO courthouse. We saw two other detainees in the car at the time of the arrest.
We also know of one arrest at Clackamas County courthouse.

The most recent arrests recorded by ACLU Legal Observers happened on Monday, September 11 where ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) agents arrested two individuals outside the courthouse.

ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice said in a statement to KATU:

"Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) make arrests every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s mission to protect public safety, border security, and the integrity of the nation’s immigration system. The determinations about where and how ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) personnel carry out arrests are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all aspects of the situation, including the prospective target’s criminal history; safety considerations; the viability of the leads on the individual’s whereabouts; and any sensitivities involving the prospective arrest location.

Last Monday (Sept. 11), ERO deportation officers traveled to the Washington County courthouse to obtain further information regarding two individuals who were being targeted for arrest based upon their criminal and immigration histories. Both of the male arrest targets had recently been arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants and subsequently admitted to the charge. Additionally both men had previously been arrested and repatriated after entering the U.S. illegally. After confirming their identities, the ERO deportation officers waited until the two men had departed the courthouse premises before taking them into custody."

“It’s impacting our families that reside in Oregon. It’s impacting our community members,” Rivas said. “A lot of folks are living in fear that they are next.”

Dos Santos said, one family was evicted from an apartment they lived in for 20-years because of a deportation arrest.

“A father who was basically kidnapped at the courthouse while he was trying to pay a traffic ticket. I mean this man has you know, done what was right and expected of him in society and ICE went and picked him up without any notice to his family,” he said.

The ACLU and Unite Oregon are concerned the arrests could cause immigrants to stop showing up at court for civic duties.

“Chief Justice [Tom Balmer] of the Supreme Court of Oregon asked ICE to treat Oregon’s courthouses as sensitive locations and ICE has essentially ignored the Supreme Court of Oregon. And we think that is a problem,” Dos Santos added. “When you have the justices of the supreme court asking ICE to stop taking these actions and ICE’s response is just to ignore them, it just goes to show that ICE feels like they are accountable to no one.”

Rivas said, “ICE isn’t being transparent with any of their operations that target our communities and so we think there needs to be more transparency. People don’t know if they are going to come back home and see their parents. People don’t know if they themselves will see their children.”

Kice said in response to the ACLU and Unite Oregon’s concerns:

"ICE is aware the officers’ actions Monday were being monitored and videotaped by private citizens. In performing their sworn duties, ICE officers conduct themselves in accordance with the authorities conveyed to them under federal law and the Constitution. Individuals who intervene in or seek to impede ICE officers while they are carrying out their mission recklessly endanger not only the enforcement personnel, but also the individuals targeted for arrest and potentially innocent bystanders. Those who engage in such actions run the risk of harming the very people they purport to support."

KATU reached out to the Oregon Republican Party for a reaction on the arrests and we will bring that to you once a comment is available.

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