Readers interested in the story have likely seen the coverage everywhere from The Washington Post to the Rachel Maddow show.
The Source was on the scene of events early on, first sending intern Kyle Switzer around 12:30 to begin livestreaming. We’d been watching the livestream of Mecca Bend and the Central Oregon Peacekeepers—two groups first to arrive at the scene—since late morning, and knew we needed a reporter there. I relieved Switzer around 4 pm, staying late into the night and capturing on video the many tense moments.
- Source Weekly
- The final tense moments of the standoff between protesters and U.S. Border Patrol police is captured in this 30+ minute video.
While some agents stood at the ready, others moved around the side of the buses, going inside to bring out the driver, who reportedly needed medical attention due to diabetes, and the two detainees inside.
Our footage shows one of the men on the ground, surrounded by protesters and federal agents. He was eventually carried off into an unmarked car waiting nearby. The video also shows protesters reeling from what they told me was pepper spray to the face.
That night’s events were just the start of what is turning into a long and arduous inquiry for media, both local and otherwise. When news like this breaks, it demonstrates what we mean when we journalists say we support a strong media ecosystem in communities: With one media outlet covering one angle or area of interest in a particular story, it leaves other outlets free to cover other areas.
As a weekly newspaper, it’s always our goal to take the time to delve deeper into the stories, and to leave the breaking news for those who specialize in breaking news. That is your news ecosystem at work—and it’s just one of the reasons the public should support local journalism in its various forms.
With that in mind, we’ve been at work behind the scenes, gathering information about things we want to know—and things we know you want to know, too. I’ve compiled some of what we’re working on here.
- Nicole Vulcan
- The situation got a lot more tense Wednesday when agents from U.S. Border Patrol arrived. In a press conference Thursday, Pastor Morgan Schmidt, seen in this photo with a backpack on, told the crowd that protesters felt safe until federal agents arrived.
What we know about the men detained in Bend
The two men are Marco Zeferino Rios and Josue Arturo Cruz Sanchez. ICE officials picked them both up early Wednesday morning. Both live in Bend and have children born in the United States.
This, according to Central Oregon Daily:
Family members have set up Go Fund Me fundraisers for both Zeferino Rios and Cruz Sanchez, to assist with legal fees and other expenses.
What we want to know about the men's detention
On Thursday afternoon, the families of the two men reported they had not yet heard word of where Zeferino Rios and Cruz Sanchez were located, whether they had eaten or slept, or had access to an attorney. We contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asking about the two men’s medical conditions and location.
“The law enforcement activity in Bend, Oregon is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s mission to arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street. The two individuals arrested each had a history of criminal violent behavior.
“While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with their federal law enforcement duties. ICE will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its officers and detainees, and will vigorously pursue prosecution against anyone who puts them in harm’s way.
“ICE continues to target public safety threats and immigration violators. The two individuals arrested by ICE have criminal records that include convictions for assault, harassment, coercion, and criminal trespassing. They are also repeat immigration violators who were previously encountered by U.S. immigration officials and granted voluntary return to their home countries.”
- Nicole Vulcan
- Signs left at the scene of the ICE protest in Bend the following day.
On Friday, the Source confirmed that the two men are located at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. Late Thursday, a federal judge ruled against a temporary restraining order that would have kept the men in Oregon. They will not yet be deported, CO Daily reported, and the judge set a hearing for them Sept. 3.
The Source submitted a request to ICE under the Freedom of Information Act, asking for more specific information about the reason for the men’s detention.
We asked ICE officials about how the warrants were served and who might have had access to these warrants before the men were detained, or who got access soon after. We are interested in knowing whether any local entities—such as the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office, for example—has seen these warrants.
Roman from ICE responded to our request about warrants with this: “Because of pending litigation I can’t provide any additional information about their specific cases, but there is a lot of misunderstanding about warrants in general and what is and isn’t necessary.”
In an explainer about warrants and misinformation on its website, ICE describes:
“Interfering with an ICE officer’s official duties is a crime. ICE enforcement functions do not need a judicial warrant. The ICE officer will utilize administrative removal warrants to carry out their duties. It is important to keep in mind that the underlying basis for a non-citizen’s removability may be due to some criminal violation, but the removal warrant used by ICE is not a criminal warrant signed by a federal judge. The removal warrant used to process the non-citizen’s removal is signed by an ICE official based on a finding that the person is removable from the United States. The inaccurate information being published by advocacy groups and shared many times via social media does nothing but endanger the alien these groups are hoping to protect. Obstructing or otherwise interfering with a federal ICE arrest is a crime, and anyone involved may be subject to prosecution under federal law including but not limited to, 18 USC § 111. Encouraging others to interfere or attempt to obstruct an arrest is extremely reckless and places all parties in jeopardy.
“ICE does not conduct raids. Social media posts claiming ICE is conducting 'raids' of events or communities are categorically false and do nothing but promote fearmongering. ICE continues to focus its limited resources first and foremost on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety.”
The Source is also in contact with experts on the federal warrant process, from whom we hope to learn more about the process of removing undocumented individuals who are accused of crimes in local jurisdictions.
- NIcole Vulcan
- In the middle of the melee Wednesday night, as federal agents extracted a driver and two detainees from the ICE bus.
What we know about where ICE may have obtained information about the men’s immigration statuses
Oregon is a sanctuary state, which means that state and local authorities are not obligated to cooperate with federal authorities in “detecting or apprehending” people based solely on their immigration status. If someone commits a crime, however, what law enforcement officials can—or could—do is more complicated.
As ORS 181A.820 reads:
“(1) No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. “(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, a law enforcement agency may exchange information with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and United States Customs and Border Protection in order to:
“(a) Verify the immigration status of a person if the person is arrested for any criminal offense; or
“(b) Request criminal investigation information with reference to persons named in records of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or United States Customs and Border Protection.”
Note that it says “exchange” information. We read that to mean the information can go both ways—law enforcement could share with ICE, and ICE could share with local law enforcement… but that’s what we’re trying to get crystal clear on.
As the Source reported in 2018, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson was among a number of Oregon’s county sheriffs to sign a letter in favor of Measure 105. In other words, the sheriffs who signed the letter wanted sanctuary law to go away.
We have reached out to Nelson’s office, asking for a statement regarding his current stance on cooperation with federal authorities.
Because of Oregon’s sanctuary law, we also want to know how ICE officials obtained information regarding the immigration status of Zeferino Rios and Cruz Sanchez.
ICE often mines law enforcement or jail inmate data to determine an arrestee’s—or inmate’s—legal status, explains the National Immigration Law Center, sometimes requesting records directly from counties; other times logging in directly to inmate databases. Because the state’s sanctuary law does not completely bar law enforcement from “exchanging” information with immigration officials, we just don’t know yet how the word got to ICE about these two men.
As NILC explained in 2014, “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has come to rely heavily on state and local criminal justice systems in order to find non–U.S. citizens who may be deportable and push them into the detention and deportation process. This collaboration is a complex and ill-defined entanglement consisting of a web of unregulated and overlapping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs and mechanisms whose parameters and operations easily mutate, that are not restrained by formal regulations or mechanisms of accountability, that operate with little transparency, and that do not closely monitor or hold accountable the criminal justice systems that arrest and detain the people who end up in ICE custody.”
This is an area of high interest for us.
We’ve requested more information from both Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel as well as Sheriff Nelson’s office about this matter.
What we know about Bend PD and the City’s response:
In a statement Thursday, which we printed in its entirety in both English and Spanish, Bend Chief of Police Mike Krantz detailed the steps he and his team took on Wednesday. He discussed learning of Department of Homeland Security activity in the area the day before protesters stood in front of the buses, which contained very little information, he said. Krantz said following the alert, he requested more information from DHS regarding federal warrants for the men detained.
Krantz admitted that initially sending a Crisis Emergency Response Team group to the scene, following a call for service from the buses Wednesday, was not ideal.
“I realize the visible presence of officers on scene of a peaceful event in this specialized gear – typically used for response to an active threat situation—caused a lot of fear and anxiety in our community. I am sorry to our community for increasing this anxiety,” Krantz wrote, and explained how he removed those officers from the scene. Krantz said the CERT team was dressed in fatigues due to a training taking place that day. Another local media outlet has reported filing a request to see the training schedule to verify that a training was, indeed, taking place.
We're also looking into an allegation, mentioned at a press conference Thursday, that Bend PD officers let ICE officials charge their cell phones in police cruisers and may have offered to buy them lunch.
Late Wednesday night, Krantz visited the scene of the protest and briefly spoke to the crowd, alerting those present that a team of federal agents was headed their way. Mayor Sally Russell stood nearby, but did not speak, walking away from the crowd after Krantz spoke, as people in the crowd called for her to stay.
The interaction is captured in the video of the ICE protest that I shot, starting at about 4 minutes in on that particular video sequence. “As you can see the Bend Police Department has been here all day to support your safety,” Krantz said. “We do not get involved in ICE activities or immigration enforcement—I think everybody knows that."
- NIcole Vulcan
- Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz speaking to the crowd at the ICE protest in Bend Wednesday.
When Krantz told the crowd that federal agents would be soon arriving, members of the crowd shouted, “Protect us!”
As Krantz and Russell walked away, another protester shouted, “Sally, I voted for you—why are you leaving?”
In a tweet earlier Wednesday, Russell encouraged people to end the demonstration, writing “I’ve been informed that both men being detained have warrants out for their arrest. This is not a sweep for undocumented immigrants. Let’s please keep our community safe. Please leave peacefully.”
- Mayor Sally Russell's tweet from 3:11 pm Wednesday.
The “warrants out for their arrest” part does not appear to be entirely accurate, but we are working to confirm that. While we’ve discovered evidence of past arrests, we do not have any confirmation Cruz Sanchez and Zeferino Rios have pending warrants.
Later, in another tweet, Russell stated, “To be clear, in no way do I support ICE. Nor can our Bend Police Force, because Oregon is a sanctuary state and it is illegal. I am very worried for everyone in our Latinx community… And will do all I can to keep every person in our community safe. This is a very tough moment. ICE is a Federal agency and frustratingly we have no power over the Executive Branch of our country.”
What we know about how local groups are responding
How local groups are responding and the role each will play in the effort to get answers about the fates of Cruz Sanchez and Zeferino Rios is another area of interest for us.
On Thursday, a group of people from various non-profits and faith and advocacy groups held a press conference at the site of the bus protests. The buses were by then gone.
Representatives from the Latino Network, the Latino Community Association and the Rural Organizing Project spoke about lending their support. Janet Llerandi Gonzalez from Mecca Bend, Luke Richter from Central Oregon Peacekeepers and Morgan Schmidt from First Presbyterian Church recapped some of what had happened Wednesday night.
Llerandi Gonzalez, Richter and Schmidt each emerged as leaders in the impromptu protests. The full video of that press conference is available at our Instagram page.
- Source Weekly
- Among the speakers at Thursday's press conference was Luke Richter from the Central Oregon Peacekeepers, among the first to stand in front of an ICE bus Wednesday.
We run down some of what's next for local advocates in Laurel Brauns' Friday report, "What's Next?"
- Ipockolyptic Productions
- A chat Thursday with some of the attendees of Wednesday's protest, hosted by Katy Ipock.
This is a developing story. We will update as needed.
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