October 08, 2020

Senators Warren and Markey, and Reps. Pressley and Lynch Demand Answers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on West Roxbury Stop

Text of the Letter (PDF)


Washington, DC – Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Stephen Lynch (MA-05), today wrote to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demanding answers to questions surrounding the October 6, 2020, apparent stop-and-detention of Bena Apreala, a Black man, while jogging in West Roxbury. The letter seeks information from ICE about the incident and why ICE was operating in West Roxbury.


On October 6, 2020, unidentified officers in unmarked SUVs with tinted windows stopped Mr. Apreala while he was jogging on the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury. According to Mr. Apreala, before questioning him, these officers did not identify themselves or provide a reason for stopping and detaining him. When Mr. Apreala observed an ICE badge on one of the officers, he asked if the officer worked for ICE, to which the latter responded “yes.” It was not until Mr. Apreala began video recording the interaction that the officers allowed him to leave. An ICE statement issued late yesterday was inconsistent with aspects of Mr. Apreala’s account.


In the letter, the lawmakers express their concern about ICE’s stopping a United States citizen and about ICE’s activities in the West Roxbury neighborhood.


“Interactions such as the one Mr. Apreala experienced with ICE agents raise serious questions about the violation of individual constitutional rights and law enforcement’s targeting and harassing individuals based on race,” the Massachusetts lawmakers wrote. “More broadly, these incidents heighten suspicion of and erode faith in law enforcement throughout the community.”


In the letter, the lawmakers ask for responses to the following questions:

  • Were the ICE officers who engaged with Mr. Apreala part of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) or Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)?

  • Did the ICE officers proactively identify themselves as ICE or law enforcement officers, or did they do so only after Mr. Apreala asked them about their identity?

  • Did the ICE officers’ conduct in this incident comply with ICE policies? If not, in what ways was it out of compliance?

  • Why did the ICE officers ask to see whether Mr. Apreala had tattoos? Why did they do so after they had told already ascertained he was not an individual they were seeking and told him he was free to leave?

  • Did the ICE officers create any record or documentation of their interaction with Mr. Apreala? If so, please identify it and provide a copy. If not, why not?

  • Has ICE stopped and detained other individuals in the Boston area in the same manner in which it stopped and detained Mr. Apreala within the past six months? If so, please identify those instances and explain why they occurred.

  • Why did it take so long after the incident for ICE to officially confirm its personnel’s involvement in response to multiple congressional inquiries?