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After ICE questioned U.S. citizen outside Hillsboro courthouse, lawmakers in three states called for answers

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici addresses reporters during a press conference outside the Washington County Circuit Court in September. Bonamici has called on immigration officials to investigate after a U.S. citizen and county employee was targeted by federal agents last month.Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici says she had not received any response from immigration officials after she and other federal lawmakers demanded an investigation into an incident in Hillsboro last month.

Isidro Andrade-Tafolla — a longtime employee of Washington County and a U.S. citizen — was at the Washington County Circuit Court on Sept. 18 when agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly followed him and his wife to their car and questioned them, mistaking him for someone else.

In a letter sent to Acting Director of ICE Thomas Homan and Oregon's Deputy Field Office Director Elizabeth Godfrey, Bonamici, fellow Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, Congressmen John Conyers of Michigan and Zoe Lofgren of California called on the agency to investigate the incident and detail policies to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

The lawmakers gave ICE until Oct. 9 to respond to their request, but the agency has remained quiet on the issue, according to Bonamici's office. Calls to ICE for comment were not returned by the Tribune's press deadline.

"What happened to Isidro and his wife was inexcusable and ICE failing to answer our questions about the incident is unacceptable," Bonamici said on Tuesday in a prepared statement. "The public deserves to know if these agents followed ICE procedure when stopping and questioning Isidro."

Bonamici proposed a bill earlier this year that would have kept immigration agents from targeting suspects at courthouses --- something the American Civil Liberties Union says happens regularly in Washington County.

"It's deeply troubling that I have received no indication that ICE officials, either locally here in Oregon or at the leadership level in Washington, are investigating the incident near the Washington County Courthouse," Bonamici said. "Without clear answers, there is a risk that this will continue to happen. Federal agents should, at the very least, properly identify themselves when interacting with members of the public. Failure to do so is a serious public safety issue."

Video of the Sept. 19 incident was captured by members of the American Civil Liberties Union and posted online.

In the video, the agents did not identify themselves as federal officers, and instead asked Andrade to provide his name and identification. The agents reportedly showed a picture of a suspect to Andrade, which they claimed was a photo of him. They said he was in the country without proper documentation.

"There was no resemblance," Andrade told a crowd at a press conference after the incident. "It was insulting to be shown a picture of someone else and be told that it was you. This is wrong. Telling me I look like somebody else because of the color of my skin? I was racially profiled. I was discriminated against. I was violated of my civil rights."

After a few minutes of interrogation, the agents were joined by more ICE agents who, after looking at the photograph, determined Andrade was not the man they were searching for. The agents then left without providing explanation or apology.

"It shouldn't matter what color you are, you shouldn't be cornered like this," Andrade said. "It's insulting, it's disturbing ... there's no word that I can put out there to describe that feeling."

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