What to do if you Encounter ICE

Over the last few weeks, rumors have spread about Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, immigration checkpoints, and other enforcement activity suspected of happening throughout Oregon.

Recent changes to our nation’s immigration policy have undoubtedly caused fear and panic within Oregon’s immigrant communities. In January, President Trump issued two Executive Orders that affect immigrants and refugees. In February, the Department of Homeland Security issued memos to further detail how these Executive Orders would be implemented. Among many things, these memos make virtually every undocumented immigrant a priority for deportation. It is understandable that many in our communities feel targeted. These feelings are backed up by real experiences, like the DREAMer in Seattle being detained, or the father of three U.S. born children from Woodburn, OR that is going through deportation proceedings after setting roots in the U.S. for nearly three decades. The list of examples go on and concerns are legitimate.

Despite announcements regarding changes to immigration policy, the great majority of the recent rumors spread through social media in Oregon have turned out to be mostly false. According to the Oregon ACLU, we know very little at this moment about how ICE is changing enforcement actions in Oregon in response to Donald Trump’s executive order.

What we have confirmed is a few enforcement actions around Multnomah County courts, which we are responding to by working with our local officials. Our understanding is that these actions have been in response to repeat offenders in the DUII courts. These cases were enforcement priorities under the old Obama administration guidelines. Additionally, we are working to address ICE presence in other courthouses throughout the state.

We have also confirmed cases of undocumented individuals that got caught in the cross hairs of ICE as they were looking for someone else. In some cases, ICE will arrest an undocumented individual they come across even if it wasn’t the particular person they were originally looking for.

A few rumors that were not accurate include:

  • Workplace raids in outer west and south Metro Portland
  • ICE enforcement actions on TriMet and agents at MAX stops
  • ICE checkpoints in North Portland
  • Enforcement actions at or around local Portland schools.

Although currently it appears that mass raids and checkpoints are not happening in Portland or throughout Oregon, that doesn’t mean they won’t happen. In fact, given what we’ve seen in the rest of the country, we may see increased enforcement actions in our communities.

It is crucial that we prepare for these actions in two ways:

  1. If you are reporting on ICE actions, you must report information accurately and know when to share it publicly.
  2. We must know our rights when interacting with law enforcement and ICE.

If you believe you are witnessing an ICE enforcement action or any kind of interaction between an immigrant and the police, follow this guide, issued by the Oregon ACLU:

Step one: Keep yourself safe. Stay calm, maintain a safe distance, and do not interfere with or obstruct law enforcement. Interfering with or obstructing with law enforcement can unnecessarily escalate situations and lead to your injury or arrest.

Step two: Document the interaction. If you have a smartphone, download the Mobile Justice Oregon App, also available in Spanish. This app will let you take video that is sent directly to the ACLU of Oregon. It also will walk you through a questionnaire that will help you document the incident after you’re done recording. If you don’t have a smartphone, but your phone has a camera, take pictures, write down your impressions immediately.

Step three: Call or text the ACLU of Oregon immigration hotline. (971) 412-ACLU or call the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition’s hotline: 1-888-622-1510. You should only use this hotline when you personally witness an action or have information from a first-hand account of an action (i.e., you’re calling on behalf of someone who was a first-hand witness). ACLU will work with community partners to both confirm rumors and disseminate accurate information. While they will do their best to answer questions about rumors, they have limited capacity and cannot respond to general information requests. For all other ACLU legal requests or questions, please contact them via their legal request voicemail at 503.227.3186. A volunteer will return your call.

Step four: PAUSE BEFORE POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Fight the urge to put the information on social media until the report has been confirmed and verified. Once the report has been confirmed, sharing the information with specific details about when and where the incident occurred may be useful. But remember, you may be sharing very personal information about the person who was arrested. Use good judgement here.

Even though Trump’s executive order substantially expanded potential ICE targets on paper, ICE currently does not have the personnel or resources to enforce these changes. This may change rapidly. If ICE begins to use workplace raids and conduct checkpoints in Oregon, this guidance will be revised. For now, it is critical to try and remain calm and well informed.