By Marina Starleaf Riker

The Bulletin

Brown expands sanctuary law

Gov. Kate Brown urged Oregon’s attorney general on Thursday to quickly take legal action against the federal government over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Brown also broadened a 1987 law that prevents law enforcement from detaining people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws.

“We will not retreat,” Brown told reporters in her office with law enforcement officials near her side.

Brown then signed an executive order that said all state agencies, and not just law enforcement, must follow the 1987 statute that essentially made Oregon the nation’s first and only sanctuary state.

“I urge you to explore what legal remedies are available to our State to resist these anti-immigrant measures in court,” Brown wrote in a letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Oregon Deputy Attorney General Fred Boss said his office is reviewing similar legal cases around the country in order to determine how to proceed. He said he expected to announce a plan next week.

Diego Hernandez, a Hispanic freshman lawmaker from Portland who was present at the signing, praised the effort.

“It is important to reassure Oregonians that we will stand for our values of inclusivity and diversity, and do not discriminate on the basis of religion or immigration status,” he said in an interview.

Brown also said state agencies are required not to discriminate on the basis of immigration status. Brown said her executive order follows state and federal law.

Her executive order also forbids state agencies from participating in the creation of a registry to identify people based on religion. That was a pre-emptive action in case the Trump administration tries to register Muslims in the country.

OSU-Cascades in Bend follows Oregon State University’s sanctuary policy which outlines specific ways it will protect students.

Among them, OSU-Cascades won’t enforce federal immigration laws and it “will vehemently oppose any federal effort to create a registry based on protected characteristics, such as national origin, religion, sexual orientation, race, or other identities.”

While Central Oregon Community College hasn’t identified itself as a sanctuary school, it has made clear to students it will not enforce federal immigration laws without a court order or clear health or safety risk, according to Ron Paradis, director of college relations.

On top of many political leaders’ minds is Trump’s recent executive order that threatens to withhold federal funding from communities with sanctuary policies.

“Everybody is going to be worried in terms of that,” Hernandez said. “But I also believe that we’re still following state law, that’s our statute. We’re following federal law. And let the courts determine what’s the right thing.’”

— Staff and wire reports

Every client that Bend immigration attorney Micaela Guthrie has met with since President Donald Trump signed executive orders on immigration last week has felt the same thing — scared.

Guthrie, who works for Bend Immigration Group, said many of her clients have been legal U.S. residents for years. But despite going through the complicated paperwork to become legal residents, they’re terrified about how the executive orders might affect their lives in the United States.

“I have not had one client or consultant who has not mentioned how afraid they are,” Guthrie said.

The Bend attorney represents only a few immigrants out of thousands nationwide who worry what Trump’s executive orders mean for their futures.

The executive orders, which were signed last week, ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, as well as begin the process to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Another aims to crack down on security within U.S. borders by withholding federal funding from local governments that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.

In Oregon, immigrants receive a certain amount of protection under a state law that bans police from enforcing federal immigration laws and detaining people solely for their immigration status. But because the state refuses to criminalize people on immigration status alone, it could jeopardize the state’s federal funding in the future. Despite the threat, Oregon’s law enforcement officials say they will continue to follow state law and refuse to arrest people solely on their immigration status.

In response to the executive orders, the Oregon State Sheriffs Association said last week that it’s unlikely Oregon police will change how they deal with immigrants in the near future. The 1987 state law bans state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to detect or apprehend people solely for violating federal immigration laws — something that was upheld in federal court when Clackamas County was found to have illegally detained a woman for 19 hours to allow federal immigration agents investigate her residency status.

Currently, Oregon law enforcement officers are allowed to communicate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers if suspects are charged with crimes, according to the sheriff’s association. However, a judge must sign a warrant before police can hold someone in custody because of immigration issues.

In Central Oregon, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said his department generally doesn’t contact immigration agents, even after someone is charged with a crime,

“We rarely, if ever, know the immigration status of a suspect,” said Hummel. “Usually when we have contact with a suspect they have already been charged with a crime and they have an attorney — as a result, we are prohibited from questioning them about anything, including their immigration status.”

However, Hummel said police officers may end up dealing with people who reveal they are in the United States without proper documentation. But in those situations, local law enforcement aren’t allowed to charge the person with an immigration crime — only federal officials are authorized to do that, Hummel said.

Bend Police Department Lt. Clint Burleigh said the department doesn’t ever contact federal immigration agents. Meanwhile, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said his office only contacts federal agents if an immigrant is being held in the county jail.

“There’s one common denominator here that involves our communication with ICE, and that is that somebody broke the law and they are in our jail,” said Nelson.

Nelson said his office doesn’t contact immigration agents when dealing with people in the community, such as when people get pulled over in a traffic stop or if they report crimes. Nelson said he wants everyone to feel safe when calling for help or reporting crimes — regardless of their citizenship status.

But just because Oregon law prevents police from enforcing immigration laws doesn’t mean Central Oregon’s immigrants aren’t scared. Brad Porterfield, Central Oregon’s Latino Community Association executive director, said the president’s orders have created a lot insecurity among immigrant families in the region.

“This is returning to a horribly disruptive system of putting local police and the sheriff in a position where immigrants cannot trust that police will protect them if they find themselves being victimized,” Porterfield said. “It creates a dysfunctional dynamic that reduces the reporting of crimes and makes immigrants extremely vulnerable to criminals.”

Although immigrants in Central Oregon are largely safe from ICE agents unless they commit crimes, it’s different for people coming from other countries to the Portland International Airport — where federal customs officials are in charge.

“When our people are arriving at airports,” said Guthrie, the Bend immigration attorney, “it’s not local law enforcement that’s doing the screening.”

As of Monday, no one had been detained by customs officials at the Portland International Airport, according Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simonds.

Although immigrants coming to Portland have been safe so far, it’s unclear what their future holds. Guthrie said executive orders that are so far-reaching are “unprecedented,” which means people’s lives in the United States depend on if and how the administration decides to enforce them.

“People are just incredibly fearful of what’s coming down the pipeline and what’s going to happen next,” said Guthrie.

­— Reporter: 541-633-2160, mriker@bendbulletin.com

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