Law enforcement officials on Wednesday quelled social media warnings about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Cornelius this week, saying the rumors are untrue.
Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Hillsboro native and Cornelius resident Patty Tenorio posted the following on her Facebook page:
"Attention: several reports have been made that ICE has been knocking on doors of Cornelius residents. Please be aware of your rights and spread the word. DO NOT OPEN YOUR DOORS," Tenorio's post said. A link from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), called "If ICE Agents Show Up At Your Door," followed Tenorio's post.
Around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Forest Grove resident and Twitter user Erika Tellez warned that ICE agents were active in western Washington County. "Please share," she tweeted. "They are doing immigration raids in Cornelius."
Tellez continued her message in Spanish.
"Aviso urgente! Amigos se nos ha informado por que ICE esta tocando en puertas en Cornelius. El mejor consejo es no abrir! (Urgent notice! Friends have informed us that ICE is knocking on doors in Cornelius, The best advice is to not open [your door]!" Tellez tweeted.
By Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 15, her message had been re-tweeted a dozen times.
Contacted by the News-Times Wednesday morning, Capt. Mike Herb and Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesmen for the Forest Grove Police Department and Hillsboro Police Department, respectively, both said they were unaware of ICE visits to Cornelius. And, around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, the following message appeared on the Forest Grove School District's Facebook page, seemingly refuting the rumors:
"FGSD has received calls from concerned parents about rumors of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the community as part of immigration enforcement sweeps," the post read."The district has spoken with Chief Janie Schutz of the Forest Grove Police Department. Chief Schutz said that they have not had any notification from ICE that they are operating in our jurisdiction.
"Law enforcement protocol is for ICE to notify local police agencies of any activity in the local area. FGPD has not received any such notification and they have not had any reports of ICE activity."
The Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) is currently following Oregon state law pertaining to detaining immigrants. ORS 181.850 prohibits police and deputies in Oregon from enforcing immigration laws, which are written at the federal level.
But ICE is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security charged with enforcing federal laws, which are likely to change as President Donald Trump's new executive orders related to immigration go into effect.
Sgt. Christine Steele, a spokeswoman with WCSO, said deputies served a search warrant on a residence in Cornelius Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, but that its "primary purpose" was related to an ongoing investigation, not an immigration-related action.
"There has not been any other increased police activity that we are aware of in the city or surrounding neighborhoods," Steele said. "I am not aware of any facts to validate or support … Facebook posts about ICE raids."