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Sarah Armstrong, m - 503.756.3147, sarmstrong@aclu-or.org

August 12, 2019

300+ faith leaders, community members, and advocates peacefully gathered outside Washington County Courthouse 

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The ACLU of Oregon and cooperating attorneys at Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton today announced they filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act on behalf of Isidro Andrade-Tafolla against Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Andrade-Tafolla, a Washington County worker and U.S. citizen, was illegally detained by ICE agents outside the Washington County Courthouse on September 18, 2017. The claim seeks damages of $100,000 for Andrade-Tafolla’s humiliation, emotional distress, and psychological harm as a result of ICE’s actions that day.

“Two years ago, I asked for an apology from ICE, and they said they didn’t do anything wrong,” Andrade-Tafolla said. “Today, I get to fight back through the legal system. These federal agents must be held accountable.”

WATCH: Video of Andrade-Tafolla’s detention by ICE agents by an ACLU of Oregon volunteer legal observer shows the Hillsboro man and his wife being surrounded by agents outside the courthouse.

Over 300 faith leaders, immigrant rights advocates, and community members joined Andrade Tafolla outside the Washington County court, including Innovation Law Lab, Adelante Mujeres, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), Northwest Workers’ Justice. The groups say that the number of ICE arrests in and around Oregon courthouses has risen sharply under the Trump administration, making many people afraid to go to court and compromising access to justice in the state. Videos of courthouse arrests have revealed the use of physical force by ICE agents against individuals, their families, and bystanders.

Videos of recent ICE activity at Oregon Courthouses

In December 2018, the groups formally petitioned Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters to issue an emergency rule prohibiting ICE arrests at or near our state courthouses. The rule would put a stop to all immigration arrests that take place while an individual is going to, attending, or returning from court. Chief Justice Walters asked to meet with ICE officials about courthouse enforcement in June, but has not yet issued the emergency rule. Courts in New York have issued a similar rule, and a federal judge in Massachusetts issued an injunction against ICE arrests in courthouses.

“Because of incidents like this, which are happening day in and day out, people are afraid,” said Nadia Dahab, attorney at Stoll Berne who helped draft the letter on behalf of Innovation Law Lab. “We’ve asked Chief Justice Walters to issue a rule that would make clear that our state courthouses are safe places for all Oregonians.”

Nearly 300 clergy leaders with IMIrJ also submitted a letter to Chief Justice Walters requesting she stop ICE activity at state courts. The faith leaders told Oregon’s top judge they have seen a “sharp uptick” in the number of requests to accompany community members to court and immigration hearings.

“When the system is broken, and broken on the backs of children and the most vulnerable, the law of love is higher than the law of the land every time.” said Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar, Oregon Bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Through documents obtained via a FOIA lawsuit and legal observers, the ACLU of Oregon says they have documented civil immigration enforcement activity in state courthouses in Lane, Marion, Multnomah, Clackamas, Umatilla, Morrow, Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Wasco, Hood River, Josephine, Lincoln, Clatsop, Washington, and Yamhill counties, whose courthouses serve 3 million Oregonians.

At the federal level, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, originally introduced in 2017 by Congresswoman Bonamici, would codify the Department of Homeland Security policy on ICE activity at sensitive locations and expand it to include courthouses, health care facilities, schools, places of worship, and other public spaces where the threat of immigration enforcement may deter individuals from seeking services or participating in their community. The bill would also require DHS to provide training to officers.“

Immigrants are being detained by ICE in and around courthouses with increasing frequency and severity, sometimes with physical force and often causing panic. This is wrong,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “This dangerous and disruptive ICE activity does not make our communities safer; instead it promotes fear and mistrust in law enforcement, which serves no one. I continue to hear from my constituents that people are afraid to report crimes, attend hearings, or even access information at local courthouses. But we can do something about it. Congress needs to pass my bill, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, so everyone can feel safe accessing justice, or going to school, to the hospital, or to their place of worship.”

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garret criticized the agents’ tactics at the Washington County Courthouse at an October 2017 press conference saying they violated agreed upon protocols by not identifying themselves and by driving unmarked cars without using red and blue lights.

“If a law enforcement stop, absent clear identification, leads to a 911 call, arriving officers could easily become just as confused as the person stopped,” Garret said. “That confusion about who is who, with unidentified ICE agents, could literally become deadly.”

The claim is online here: https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/08122019_andrade_tafolla_claim_acluor.pdf

The advocates’ letters to Chief Justice Walters are here:

The video of Andrade Tafolla’s detention is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm33Kk6H6Qc&list=PLZ_t5gI0g85rcZstpOuV3kU6yts0Ky0yD&index=6.

PHOTOS from the demonstration are here, credit Doug Brown: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/je9dk9opqqgvzoz/AACB7LCGSVcBoAt4STSSwNu_a?dl=0

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