Three U.S. representatives from Oregon are calling for congressional hearings to investigate Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after two controversial arrests by federal immigration agents within a month heightened concerns that the agency may be violating the law.
Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader sent letters to the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, asking that the committees hold hearings to force ICE officials to answer questions that Bonamici and Blumenauer previously raised in letters sent directly to ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and ICE Acting Field Office Director Elizabeth Godfrey.
On Sept. 19, ICE agents in plain clothes approached and questioned a U.S. citizen near a Washington County courthouse. A month later, agents apparently entered a private home in downtown Portland without a warrant to arrest a man who was working inside. Both incidents were caught on camera and sparked widespread outcry from legal advocates and immigration activists.
"These incidents, several of which are recorded on video, call into question whether ICE officials are conducting themselves in full accordance with federal law and agency policies and procedures," the lawmakers wrote. "In the last several months there have been multiple allegations of ICE officers around the country failing to follow proper protocol, potentially acting in violation of an individual's constitutional rights in some instances."
The three congressmen have been concerned about immigration enforcement policies for some time. In March, they introduced a bill to bar federal agents from making arrests or performing other enforcement actions at so-called "sensitive locations." ICE already has similar a policy in place, but the lawmaker's bill would have codified that policy into law and expanded the definition of "sensitive location" to include courthouses in addition to schools, hospitals and churches.