The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency appears to be texting undocumented immigrants to get them to divulge evidence to be used during potential deportation proceedings, the Portland Mercury reported Wednesday.
Attorneys of an immigrant who lives in Oregon said ICE suspected him of being undocumented and that he was recently charged with a misdemeanor in Multnomah County where Portland is located. The ICE agent, who identified himself as an officer, texted the man asking him to call back.
“Hello,” the message said, according to Portland Mercury reporter Doug Brown who saw the text message. “This is Officer Smith. My address is as follows: 4310 SW Macadam Ave. Portland, OR 97239. Please feel free to call me with any questions that you have. I will need to heard [sic] from you soon.”
“Officer Smith” is ICE agent Scott P. Smith and the address is the local ICE office in Portland. Attorneys say the man called Officer Smith back and that Smith “manipulated him into divulging his native country and immigration status” so that he could have evidence for potential deportation proceedings.
Texting immigrants as an enforcement tactic appears to be relatively rare, but increasingly unsurprising for an agency where federal immigration agents have aggressively heeded President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration. Trump’s orders, which essentially made all undocumented immigrants fair game, have already empowered federal immigration officers to detain and deport as many people as possible, leading to a 40 percent increase in immigration arrests this year compared with the same time period last year.
Since Trump took office, federal officers have used various tactics to detain immigrants, regardless of the severity of their crimes. Last week, a man in Portland uploaded a video of ICE agents entering a private home to detain his immigrant coworker without a warrant. Earlier this month, an immigrant dad who went in for his green card interview was detained at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Colorado. On Tuesday, federal agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency in Texas followed an ambulance carrying a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and detained her after she was medically cleared. She is currently held under a San Antonio children’s shelter in custody of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
“We used to look at things through the totality of the circumstances when it came to a removal order — that’s out the window,” a veteran ICE agent told the New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer in July. “I don’t know that there’s that appreciation of the entire realm of what we’re doing. It’s not just the person we’re removing. It’s their entire family.