The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon sent legal observers to the Multnomah County Courthouse Friday morning after unconfirmed reports that two plainclothes immigration officers detained a woman outside the courthouse.
A local lawyer photographed the incident and the Oregon Justice Resource Center posted the photo on Twitter with the attorney's permission, says OJRC executive director Bobbin Singh.
Singh says OJRC does not know if the plainclothes officers were U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or undercover police.
American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon legal director Mat dos Santos says the advocacy group sent legal observers to watch for any enforcement actions by ICE agents.
A spokeswoman for the courthouse says court officials and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office did not know about the arrest. ICE did not immediately return requests for comment on the incident.
ICE officers have made arrests at Oregon courthouses many times in the past. Judges, lawyers and other criminal justice stakeholders object to the practice because it can discourage defendants and parties in civil cases from showing up to court dates.
Last year, Oregon's Congressional leaders called for an internal investigation after ICE agents mistook a courthouse employee and U.S. citizen for an undocumented immigrant in Washington county. In another incident, a Multnomah County judicial official allowed an undocumented defendant to leave the courthouse through an employee door to avoid ICE officers. The man was ultimately arrested by ICE anyway.
Multnomah County officials have repeatedly denounced the practice of arrests in and near courthouses and voiced their support for Portland's sanctuary status. The ACLU filed a records request last year to learn more about how the federal immigration agency targets people at courthouses across the state of Oregon.
ICE has said that courthouse arrests allow agents to safely apprehend undocumented immigrants when they have not otherwise been able to locate individuals the agency is targeting for deportation.