PORTLAND, Ore. -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday sent a letter to Oregon lawmakers addressing two recent high-profile instances of agents confronting people believed to be illegal immigrants.
The incidents in question took place in the Portland area in September and October. In the September confrontation, video appears to show ICE agents refusing to identify themselves while questioning a man who they believed was an illegal immigrant. The man, who has been a U.S. citizen since 1996, said ICE profiled him outside the Washington County courthouse.
In the letter to Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), who along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) called for ICE to explain the agency's actions, Assistant Director Raymond Kovacic said the ICE agent did identify himself but the video was taken after the agent did so.
"Any recording that failed to capture the beginning of the encounter when officer self-identification took place should not be relied upon to allege the officers failed to identify themselves as ICE officers," Kovacic wrote.
"Please be assured the ICE officers did not target Mr. Andrade-Tafolla on the basis of his race or ethnicity," Kovacic writes later in the letter.
Kovacic goes on to say that while the video doesn't capture the full encounter, it serves "to illustrate the hostile environment ICE officers must confront every day."
The October incident involved plain-clothed ICE agents entering a private home without a warrant and arresting a man who was working at the house. That man was later released with no explanation, according to to his family and a friend who took video of the arrest.
Watch: ICE arrests man inside home
ICE JUST CAME ON TO PRIVATE PROPERTY NO WARRENT THEY WERE NEVER ALLOWED IN BY ANY ONE NOT ME NOT THE OWNER AND ABDUCTED MY FRIEND THIS SHIT IS WRONG AS FUCK THEY THINK THEY CAN JUST WALK INTO PRIVATE PROPERTY AND TRASPASS THEY BROKE THE LAW AND DIDNT EVEN THINK TWICE #SHARE #ICEPosted by George Cardenas on Thursday, October 19, 2017
While Kovacic doesn't directly respond to that incident, he addressed why agents are sometimes plain-clothed.
"In high visibility situations, ICE officers use several means to identify themselves including, but not limited to, wearing placards or clothing that clearly identifies them as immigration officers. However, in certain situations, high visibility attire hinders or endangers safety and officers may decide not to broadcast their identity."
Kovacic doesn't say whether the officers' actions in both instances were justified and said the incidents are still under review.
Bonamici and Blumenauer released a joint statement saying they appreciate ICE's response but the letter was contradictory.
"Our constituents in Oregon are deeply concerned by these aggressive actions. ICE must be held accountable when enforcement encroaches on civil liberties," the statement said.