Two plainclothes officers who arrested a woman outside the Multnomah County Courthouse were not federal immigration agents, as advocates initially feared, but undercover Gresham police detectives.
The Gresham officers arrested Evangelista Maribel Sebastian on drug and gun-related charges, says spokesman Ben Costigan.
Local advocacy groups raised alarms on social media last week after her arrest, suggesting that she may have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That wasn't true.
The Oregon Justice Resource Center tweeted a photo of Sebastian being detained by two men on Aug. 3 outside the courthouse in downtown Portland. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon sent legal observers to the courthouse after OJRC published the photo.
The head of Oregon Justice Resource Center says it's the fault of police that people are on edge.
"Law enforcement should be more aware as to what is happening in our community and therefore, be more thoughtful in how they arrest and detain individuals in and around the courthouse," says Bobbin Singh, executive director at OJRC. "These type of tactics—plainclothes ICE officers arresting and detaining individuals at our state courthouses—have traumatized many in our community and has resulted in the erosion of trust with law enforcement. Considering all the fears and concerns that exist with ICE, we encourage and expect that local law enforcement act with greater sensitivity."
Advocates have been sensitive to arrests at courthouses in Oregon for months after a spate of arrests as immigrants showed up for court dates.