Ivan Rodriguez Resendiz said he showed up Tuesday to the Multnomah County Courthouse because he wanted to do the right thing and face allegations that he’d violated the terms of his probation for driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Rodriguez Resendiz, 32, a Mexican native, stepped foot in the courthouse even though a friend warned him against it out of fear he’d be arrested and deported.

“But I also didn’t want to get in trouble with the court,” Rodriguez Resendiz said.

He spoke to a reporter as three men who appeared to be immigration agents wearing street clothes stood nearby.

He said he was most concerned about leaving behind his 4-year-old daughter, and he wondered when he might see her and his wife again.

The scene unfolded in the morning on the fourth floor of the courthouse — days after fears began to spread among immigrant communities that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was increasing its enforcement of deportation laws by showing up at courthouses in a crackdown order by President Trump.

An ICE spokeswoman said the agency has no new emphasis on arrests since Trump took office Jan. 20, but that assurance hasn’t allayed the fear, confusion and rumors permeating courthouses in the Portland area. 

Multnomah County leaders have said they’re worried that rumors will discourage not only criminal defendants from showing up to court, but witnesses and crime victims, as well.

The incident involving Rodriguez Resendiz only added to that — attracting several defense attorneys who stepped in to try to help by talking to the agents.

Immigration agency’s statement A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it’s often difficult for agents to locate and arrest immigrants facing possible deportation because jailers in Multnomah County no longer notify the agency when they’re about to release immigrants and immigrants also often provide false addresses. “(L)ocating these individuals at a courthouse is, in some instances, the agency’s only likely means of affecting their capture,” said spokeswoman Virginia Kice, in a written statement. Kice said by far, most arrests happen away from the courthouse. Kice on Tuesday also provided new numbers to support a previous statement that there hasn’t been a surge of immigration arrests in Oregon or in its courthouses. She said in January, the agency made 64 arrests out of its Portland office, which covers about half of Oregon’s counties and several in Southwest Washington. In October it was 79, November it was 75 and December it was 71.

The three men wore jeans or slacks, zip-up jackets and baseball caps. They didn’t identify themselves to Rodriguez Resendiz or his attorneys, but defense attorney John Schlosser was in the hallway and said he recognized them as immigration agents. Schlosser said he told them Rodriguez Resendiz would cooperate with them.

When asked by a reporter with The Oregonian/OregonLive if they were immigration agents, the men declined to identify themselves, but referred Fenomenbet all questions to an ICE public information officer. Spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Tuesday that she wasn’t at liberty to answer questions about the men.

But Kice did say in a statement: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers conduct operations every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation and uphold public safety.”

Although the men watched Rodriguez Resendiz for at least 45 minutes, they didn’t speak directly to him. Rather, they stood near him in silence as he waited several times for them to arrest him.

At one point in the courthouse hall, a defense attorney asked if they planned to arrest him, and one of them said no. She asked if Rodriguez Resendiz was free to go, and one of them said yes.

But the men followed Rodriguez Resendiz and the defense attorney through the streets of downtown Portland and back to his lawyer’s office, sometimes watching from the alcoves of buildings or from behind columns.

The agents eventually left, and a friend picked up Rodriguez Resendiz from the office, Multnomah Defenders Inc.

Rodriguez Resendiz meets the conditions — established under the Obama administration — for possible deportation.

Although his defense attorney, Jennifer List, declined to comment about the details of his immigration status, court records indicate that he has been in the country at least since he was about 18.

It’s unclear if he immigrated to the U.S. legally. Court records show he was deported in 2010, when he would have been 25 or 26 years old. It’s unclear when or how he entered the country again.

Rodriguez Resendez was working at a fast-food chain and had no criminal history until he turned 31, according to court records. That’s when, in November 2015, he was arrested for DUII.

Two months later, in January 2016, he was arrested again after a Portland police officer saw him drive through a stop sign next to the Oregon Zoo. He blew a blood alcohol level of .11 percent. The legal limit for driving is .08 percent. Rodriguez Resendiz pleaded guilty to both counts.

In recognition of Rodriguez Resendiz’s alcohol problem, he was allowed to enter a DUII Intensive Supervision Program, designed to get him treatment and monitor him closely to be sure he wasn’t drinking again. He was back in court Tuesday on allegations that a urine sample he gave was too diluted, according to court records.

The agents who showed up to the courthouse concerned Rodriguez Resendiz’s attorney.

“It was disturbing to say the least,” List said. “They didn’t go up and say, ‘We’re ICE. And by the way, we’re interested in talking to your client.’ They don’t say anything. They aren’t upfront. They aren’t wearing a badge.”

— Aimee Green



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