On Sept. 20 The Daily Astorian reported on how an Oregonian couple were wrongfully detained, after a court hearing, by plain-clothes ICE agents (“Oregon man, US citizen, mistakenly approached by ICE agents”). The agents did not identify themselves. I gather from reading the article that to unsupervised ICE agents all Hispanics look the same.
It has become so bad that our Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Balmer has been compelled to send a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly asking them to stop their agents from arresting people in and around Oregon courts. Let’s hope that federal agents operating secretly in our community are more responsive to our chief justice, than they have been to our local law enforcement.
The Daily Astorian reported on Aug. 31 how “Peninsula police shut off from immigration arrests” by the feds, refusing to give the police prior notice of operations in their police jurisdictions, despite Sheriff Scott Johnson’s written request to them for such notice.
Such prior notice is not just customary; it is necessary to the peace and safety. Just imagine a local police officer pulling up to a situation where one or more apparent civilians are holding guns on another civilian.
It is shameful that, as reported by The Daily Astorian on Sept. 18, our Hispanic community could not hold a cultural celebration, without very real fears of ICE agents targeting their event and sweeping up citizens and immigrants alike (“Heritage celebration, rally for immigrants in Astoria”). Can a society tolerate in silence such intimidation of a group, by a secret police and still be free?
It is time for city councils and boards of supervisors to get together with our local judges, district attorneys and local law enforcement to bring transparency and accountability to this process.
No more silence.
Dani Williams, Esq.