Oregon legislation

The free pass for criminal aliens bill

There was such a whirl of activity in the final days of the late, unlamented session of Oregon’s Legislature that further wounds to citizenship and the rule of law slipped through with very little notice.

Looking into the history of HB 2355, “Relating to public safety; and declaring an emergency,” we find that the innocent-sounding summary says:  “Directs Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to develop method for recording data concerning officer-initiated pedestrian and traffic stops.” 
 
The bill was said to be aimed at “racial profiling” – the claimed unfair treatment by police of racial minorities.  It was introduced on January 9, 2017. But because of amendments that conveniently came much later, HB 2355 might as well now be called the free pass for criminal aliens bill.
 
At a July 4 session of the House Ways and Means Committee which was considering HB 2355, a majority of Committee members voted to reduce the penalty for a Class A misdemeanor from the standard 365 days to 364 days.  What a difference a day makes!  Now aliens who may or may not be here legally can escape the federal rule that makes deportable those aliens convicted of Class A misdemeanors.
  
HR 2355 was pre-session filed at the request of Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.  There was little publicity, and most voters were probably unaware of the contents of the bill, especially the addition of the part benefitting criminal aliens.  The bill sailed through House hearings with almost no public opposition.
 
The House vote was 36 Ayes and 23 Nays. All Democrats voted Aye except Rep. Boone who was excused.  All Republicans voted Nay except Reps. John Huffman and A. Richard Vial.
 
News of the bill’s passage on July 5 by the House appeared in some Oregon newspapers, referring to it as an anti racial profiling bill.
 
The bill went to the Senate the very next day, July 6, where it passed quickly without any hearing, and the Legislature adjourned on July 7.
 
The Senate vote was 20 Ayes and 9 Nays. Sen. Knopp (R) was excused. All Democrats voted Aye except Sen. Betsy Johnson, who voted Nay.  Republicans were split, 8 Nays to 4 Ayes. Republicans voting Nay were:  Sens. Baertshiger, Boquist, Ferrioli, Girod, Kruse, Linthicum, Olsen, Thatcher.  The Aye-voting Republicans were: Sens. DeBoer, Hansell, Thomsen, Winters.
 
An account of final passage was published on July 11 by the Portland Tribune, written by Paris Achen of the Capitol Bureau.  Like her account of House passage, it ended with this paragraph: 
 
“Another provision reduces maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor from 365 days of imprisonment to 364 days. That change was meant to prevent federal deportation of legal immigrants who are convicted of a Class A misdemeanor and may be a refugee, enrolled in school in the United States, or are the spouses or family members of a U.S. citizen, said Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland. A sentence of 365 days triggers mandatory federal deportation.” 
 
However, HB 2355 as amended and passed will benefit all criminal aliens legally and illegally here, not just a favored few.  This bit of legislative history illustrates how Oregon’s legislative leadership and allies deceptively manipulate human sympathy to expand benefits, incentivize illegal immigration, degrade the value of citizenship, and endanger public safety.
 

Jeff Sessions to Oregon: State’s ‘sanctuary’ policies ‘endanger us all’

PORTLAND — In a speech to federal law enforcement officers, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday urged Oregon politicians to reconsider the state’s “sanctuary” law.

Sessions pointed to a slew of high-profile crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants in Oregon and nationwide as he tried to make the case that the 1987 state law makes Oregonians less safe.

“The problem is that the (sanctuary) policies tie your hands,” he told the law enforcement officials and other federal workers. “Sanctuary policies endanger us all.”

Sessions’ 20-minute address at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in north Portland, in a room normally used for immigrant naturalization ceremonies, contained few surprises.

The Trump administration all year has been pressuring sanctuary cities and states to enforce federal immigration laws or lose federal funding.

Oregon’s leaders have staunchly resisted those efforts, however, though an effort is underway to ask voters to repeal the sanctuary law next November.

Oregon’s law limits communications and information sharing between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, allegedly making it tougher for federal authorities to apprehend Oregon residents for immigration law violations.

But the state law gives local police some wiggle room. Lane County, for example, provides more information to federal officials about foreign-born jail inmates than Multnomah County provides about its jail population.

The federal government has said it typically wants local police to detain unauthorized immigrants until federal officials can arrive to take them into custody. Oregon law doesn’t allow that level of cooperation.

A crowd of protesters arrived several hours before Sessions. They held signs and led derogatory chants about the attorney general in a corralled area a fair distance away from the immigration office building. Their raucous chants could be heard, faintly, during the attorney general’s address.

Democrats also pushed back on Sessions’ message.

In a public letter, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler accused the Trump Administration of trying to “coerce local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.”

“In Portland, we do not merely tolerate diversity, we celebrate it,” he wrote.

Sessions suffered a defeat last week when a federal judge in Illinois temporarily blocked his efforts to withhold federal money for police from sanctuary cities.

The judge agreed with the city of Chicago’s argument that the attorney general doesn’t have the authority to add new conditions for local government to receive grants.

Sessions didn’t mention that ruling on Tuesday, but he did try to refute a common argument in favor of sanctuary policies: that they allow unauthorized immigrants to report crimes to local police without fear of local police then alerting federal immigration authorities who would deport those immigrants.

“That does not make sense to me,” Sessions said Tuesday. “Would releasing someone who had been arrested 10 times this year into your community give you more confidence in law enforcement?” Critics of sanctuary laws say the laws allow repeat offenders of local or state laws to remain at liberty in the United States, even though those people could be deported because of their illegal immigration status.

Sessions referred to an Oregon case involving Sergio Martinez, an unauthorized immigrant who had been deported 20 times. Martinez allegedly committed several crimes after the Multnomah County jail released him late last year.

Federal officials, including acting U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams, are upset that Multnomah County didn’t honor a federal “detainer” request to keep Martinez in jail until federal officials could pick him up.

But sheriffs in Oregon say the state’s 1987 sanctuary law and court rulings prevent them from complying with federal detainer requests or providing any form of assistance or support to federal immigration enforcement officials.

“Political leaders have directed state and local officers to refuse these (detainer) requests,” Sessions said. “Cooperation has been a key element in informed crime fighting for decades.”

Similar conflicts between local and federal law enforcement agencies are playing out across the nation.

However, Oregon sheriffs have some leeway in how they choose to interpret and implement the state’s sanctuary law.

In Lane County, jail booking information for everyone, including foreign-born inmates, is entered into a state database that federal immigration officials can access.

If requested, the county will call federal authorities to give them 30 minutes notice before an inmate they’ve asked to track is released from jail, according to Carrie Carver, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

That is somewhat similar to a crime victim notification system that exists, under which the general public can sign up to monitor specific inmates.

Lane County also allows federal ICE officers into the jail’s “pre-booking” area to potentially pick inmates up. The general public cannot access those areas.

Conversely, Multnomah County earlier this year clarified that their policy allows deputies to provide no more information and no more access to county facilities than what the county provides to the general public.

OFIR meeting Saturday, Sept. 30 - don't miss this one!

Alert date: 
2017-09-20
Alert body: 

You won't want to miss this meeting!  OFIR has invited two NW United States Regional immigration officers to join us.

Not long ago Governor Brown sent out a very misleading Press Release filled with misinformation about Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions in our state.

So, just exactly what can agents do - and not do, while enforcing immigration laws in Oregon?

Melissa Nitsch, the Community Relations Officer for ICE covering Washington, Oregon, and Alaska and Quinn Andrus, Community Relations Officer for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will join us ...prepared to separate the real facts from the fear fanning fiction about ICE operating in Oregon.

This is a must attend event.  Invite a friend to join you Saturday, Sept. 30 from 2 – 4pm at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn, across from Costco in Salem

If you have questions, please call 503.435.0141

 1 person, standing


 

Oregon Expands Dangerous Sanctuary Law

While California is the most well-known sanctuary state, Oregon was actually the first one in the country. (The Daily Caller, Aug. 8, 2017) It passed its sanctuary law over 30 years ago. (Id.) Now that Governor Kate Brown has signed HB 3464, Oregon gets a new distinction, now being the most extreme sanctuary state. (Id.) Oregon’s new law makes it nearly impossible for state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials and allows criminal aliens, even those convicted of the most serious crimes, to escape immigration enforcement. (H.B. 3464)

Specifically, the law prohibits state and local agencies in Oregon from sharing information about individuals including their contact information, time and location of their public appointments, the identity of relatives, and their place of employment. (Id.) The law also prohibits these institutions from requesting information about a person's immigration or citizenship status. (Id.) If they already have that information, they “may decline to disclose” the status to federal authorities unless required by law or court order, according to the new law. (Id.)

Outrageously, Governor Brown signed the sanctuary law a mere two weeks after criminal alien Sergio Jose Martinez was accused of raping a 65 year-old woman in her home and sexually assaulting another woman in a parking garage. (The Washington Times, Aug. 16, 2017) Martinez had previously been deported 20 times and had a long history of criminal activity, including burglary and battery, spanning several states. (The Oregonian, Aug. 3, 2017) In December 2016, Martinez was in a Multnomah County jail when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a detainer on him. (Id.) Despite the detainer request, Multnomah County released him from jail without contacting ICE. (Id.) Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said that he could not detain Martinez because of Oregon’s sanctuary law. (See KGW.com, Aug. 1, 2017) In June, Martinez was arrested again in Multnomah County. (Id.) He was released on July 17, after serving 31 days in jail. (Id.) One week later, Martinez was arrested for those violent sexual attacks on the two women. (Id.)


 

'Sanctuary State' Repeal Campaign Takes Advantage Of New Oregon Rule

Backers of a campaign to repeal an Oregon law that aids undocumented immigrants are taking advantage of new petition rules to make an early start on gathering the signatures they need to qualify for the 2018 ballot. [See the Stop Oregon Sanctuaries website.]

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, says her group was unable to make the 2016 ballot with a pair of immigrant-related measures because their signature gathering was held up by lengthy legal fights over the wording of the ballot title.

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson last month began the process of changing the rules so that initiative campaigns for the first time could gather an unlimited number of signatures before the wording of the ballot title was hashed out.

That seemingly arcane change could have a major impact on initiative campaigns, particularly ones that don’t have a lot of money to flood the streets with paid petitioners.

Kendoll said that ballot title challenges “have become more about delaying the initiative process than they are about making certain that we have proper language” for explaining a measure for voters.

A coalition called One Oregon opposes changing the 30-year-old “Sanctuary State” law, which limits local and state police cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The group has also filed a legal appeal with the state Supreme Court challenging the ballot title, which is meant to be a neutral description of the initiative.

Andrea Williams is executive director of Causa, an immigrant rights group, and a leader of the One Oregon coalition.

She said that Kendoll’s group has started early enough that it could probably qualify for the ballot even without Richardson’s new rules. She said the group filed an appeal to get the most “accurate and clear” ballot title.

Kendoll acknowledged her group is taking some risk by going ahead with signature gathering before waiting for a ballot title. 

In particular, several groups have talked about mounting a legal challenge to Richardson’s rule change. Ben Unger is the executive director of Our Oregon, a labor-backed coalition group. He said the secretary of state’s office should start over on the rules change because it contained some procedural errors. And his group is also looking into whether Richardson actually has the authority to allow initiatives to collect signatures without having a ballot title affixed to the signature sheets.

Oregon law says that petitioners have to gather at least 1,000 signatures before they can get a ballot title.  Richardson used that language to say that he could change the rules to allow petitioners to gather as many as signatures as they want until a ballot title is finalized.

If the immigration measure qualifies for the ballot next year, it could attract national attention. A large number of cities and counties around the country — including 15 in Oregon, according to Williams — have “sanctuary” protections for immigrants.

Oregon has the only statewide law, although California legislators are working on a similar measure.

Kendoll said the Oregon law should be overturned so that law enforcement in the state can fully cooperate with immigration officials. She noted the local furor involving the case of Sergio Jose Martinez, accused of attacking two women in Portland last month after being released from custody in Multnomah County last December. Federal officials say they asked the county to hold Martinez, but Sheriff Mike Reese said the agency should have issued a criminal warrant.

Williams said the Oregon sanctuary law improves public safety by encouraging immigrants to cooperate with law enforcement without fear of deportation.

Sponsors of the initiative need to gather 88,184 valid signatures by next July to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

Man accused of attacking 2 women in NE Portland now faces 27-count indictment

A Multnomah County grand jury has returned a 27-count indictment against Sergio Jose Martinez, who is accused of attacking two women in Northeast Portland last week.

Martinez, described as a "serial immigration violator,'' is accused of sexually assaulting a 65-year-old woman July 24 after entering her Northeast Irving Street apartment through an open window, threatening her with a metal rod, tying her up with scarves and socks, punching her then escaping with her car.

Hours later, he's accused of attacking another woman at knifepoint as she was leaving work and was walking to her car in a parking garage on Northeast Halsey Street. He forced the 37-year-old woman into her car, but she got out, according to police. He then tackled her to the ground and repeatedly bashed her head into the concrete before taking off in her car, deputy district attorney Amity Girt wrote in a probable cause affidavit. "Help, he has a knife...he's threatening to kill me!,'' the woman screamed at the top of her lungs, Girt wrote.

Martinez, 31, is accused of 17 charges stemming from the sexual assault, according to the indictment. He's accused of four counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree sodomy, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree robbery, and one count each of second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and identity theft in the Irving Street case, according to the indictment.

In connection with the second attack, he's accused of nine more counts, charging him with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, and one count each of attempted first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, unauthorized use of a vehicle and identity theft.

A final count of first-degree criminal trespass stems from a separate allegation that he unlawfully entered an apartment on Northeast Clackamas Street in Portland as he fled from the second offense. It's also the location where police captured and arrested him. He was found with a bloody, serrated knife with a blade about six inches long, according to court records.

Before he was booked into jail, he was treated for a "meth induced psychosis,'' according to court records.

Martinez is being held on $3.6 million bail in connection with the indictment.

He's scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Martinez has a lengthy criminal record. His immigration status has shined renewed light on conflicting interpretations of immigration enforcement by local and federal authorities.

According to Virginia Kice, of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Martinez is a "serial immigration violator'' who was removed from the country "no less than 13 times since 2008.'' He has a lengthy criminal history that spans three states, including prior convictions for attempted battery, burglary and illegal re-entry to the United States from Mexico.

ICE had lodged an immigration detainer against Martinez when he had been in the Multnomah County jail Dec. 7, according to the agency. The agency requested ICE be notified before his release.

No notification was given when Martinez was released from custody the next day. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese issued a lengthy statement defending the release. He said the sheriff's office followed Oregon law, which prohibits public agencies from spending money, using equipment or enlisting personnel to enforce federal immigration law.

Reese said federal immigration officials should have sent a criminal arrest warrant signed by a judge to the sheriff's office to detain Martinez. Instead, Reese said, federal immigration officials issued a civil detainer, which he argued can't be used in Oregon.

Yet Kice, the ICE spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the sheriff's statement reflected a "fundamental misunderstanding of the enforcement process.''

"The cases of individuals being sought for removal are almost always handled through an administrative process as opposed to a criminal proceeding,'' Kice said. " The process doesn't involve the issuance of a judicial arrest warrant, neither is there a legal requirement that ICE provide a judicial warrant to law enforcement agencies in order to receive notification about the impending release of a criminal alien.''

Kice said the case shows the importance of recognizing immigration detainers.

"This case underscores yet again why immigration detainers are such a crucial enforcement tool for furthering public safety and why it is highly problematic, and even tragic, when jurisdictions choose to willfully ignore them,'' she said, in a prepared statement.

A Multnomah County grand jury Wednesday returned a 27-count indictment against Sergio Jose Martinez stemming from two assaults in Northeast Portland on July 24. (Aimee Green/The Oregonian )

Federal immigration agency lodged detainer on man accused of NE Portland attacks

Federal immigration agents lodged a detainer in December 2016 against the man accused of attacking two women in Northeast Portland this week, officials said.

When Sergio Jose Martinez was held in the Multnomah County Jail on Dec. 7, 2016, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requested local authorities notify the agency prior to releasing him, spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday.

Martinez has been deported 20 times, according to Multnomah County court documents. He has a lengthy criminal record that includes several convictions in Oregon...

Local authorities released Martinez on Dec. 8, 2016 without notifying immigration authorities, Kice said.

Oregon law prohibits public agencies from spending money, using equipment or enlisting personnel to enforce federal immigration law....

"MCSO is committed to ensuring we comply with all federal and state laws that govern local public safety agencies with regard to enforcement of immigration policies," he said in an email.

State law prohibits local law enforcement from using agency resources to enforce federal immigration law.

In a September 2016 declaration, Sheriff Mike Reese said the sheriff's office follows the Federal District Court of Oregon's direction...

In February, the sheriff's office opened an investigation into whether county policies were violated when immigration agents arrested a man at an appointment with sheriff's deputies.

Martinez is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her Northeast Portland home on Monday morning, then stealing her credit cards and car. Police say he attacked another woman in a parking garage later that day.

He is charged with several crimes including first-degree robbery, sex abuse and robbery and second-degree assault.

Deportation officers have lodged an immigration detainer against Martinez.

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NOTE:  The law referenced in this article is Oregon revised statute 181A.820.  OFIR is dedicated to overturning this statute via Initiative Petition #22.  If you are interested in helping collect signatures to overturn this statute, please call 503.435.0141 to request signature sheets.  Leave you name, address and how many 10 line signature sheets you would like us to send.

Man accused of attacking women has long criminal past

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Police previously arrested the 31-year-old man linked to two violent attacks on women in Northeast Portland more than 10 times in the past decade, according to records obtained by KOIN 6 News.

Sergio Jose Martinez remains in the Multnomah County Detention Center with bail set at more than $2 million.

On Wednesday, Martinez was arraigned at the Multnomah County Justice Center on a total of 13 felonies including burglary, sodomy, sexual abuse, robbery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

He has been linked to two separate attacks on July 24 in Northeast Portland.

The first attack happened near the intersection of Northeast 17th and Irving, according to police. Martinez used scarves and socks to bind the victim’s hands and feet and blindfolded her, according to court documents. He proceeded to violently attack the woman physically and sexually.

The second attack happened near Northeast 21st and Halsey several hours after the first attack, according to police. Martinez is accused of approaching a woman with a knife and threatening to kill her. Police believe that Martinez was trying to kidnap the woman as she left work.

According to an official Portland Police Bureau report, officers have arrested Martinez a total of 13 times since 2008.

February 2008 – Drinking in public
March 2008 – Theft of a motor vehicle
March 2008 – Hit and run
January 2017 – Criminal trespassing
February 2017 – Drug offenses
February 2017 – Interfering with public safety
March 2017 – Fugitive Warrant
March 2017 – Detox, civil hold
March 2017 – Fugitive warrant
April 2017 – Theft of services
April 2017 – Shoplifting
June 2017 – Fugitive warrant
July 2017 – Criminal trespassing

He was also cited in June 2017 for providing false information to police.

Prior to his arrest on Monday, his most recent arrest was for criminal trespassing. Details about that case were not immediately disclosed because of the on-going investigation into the two assaults Martinez is accused of committing.

The police bureau has a total of 7 different names and various birth dates Martinez has used over the years.

Martinez has a history of illegal entry into the US

Records show Martinez, at the time of his arrest on Monday, did not have a fixed address and was considered by the bureau as “transient.” In December 2016 and February 2017, Martinez used an address in the 6900 block of Southeast Nehalem Street. Attempts to reach the current owner of the residence listed were not immediately successful Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

According to court records reviewed by KOIN 6 News, Martinez’s first criminal case in Multnomah County was filed in March 2008. He was charged with three misdemeanors. The case went into warrant status in April 2008 when Martinez failed to show up for his arraignment. He was arraigned on the case in December 2016 but the case was dismissed by the DA’s Office for unknown reasons in January 2017.

In January 2017, the DA’s Office also dismissed a 9-count indictment filed against Martinez in March 2008. The case remained in warrant status for years, according to court records.

On December 29, 2016, Martinez was issued a citation for violating TriMet rules for riding a MAX without a fare at the Hollywood Transit Center. He has never paid his fine and the case has been sent to a collection agency, according to court documents. Martinez received similar citations, which also went into collection status, in March and April 2017.

In April 2017, the DA’s Office declined to prosecute Martinez on charges of interfering with public transportation and theft of services. Details of the case were not immediately available.

Martinez’s first conviction in the Multnomah County Circuit Court came in July 2017 when Martinez entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree criminal trespassing and one count of interfering with a peace officer. Records show there was a “sentence of discharge.” Under Oregon law, if imposed a sentence of discharge, “the defendant shall be released with respect to the conviction for which the sentence is imposed without imprisonment, probationary supervision or conditions.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors also dismissed a single count of possession of meth and giving false information filed against Martinez. Records show the DA’s Office dismissed the drug case and the false info case as part of the plea agreement reached in the criminal trespassing case and interfering case.

On July 12, 2017, the Multnomah County Pretrial Services Program issued a report pertaining to the potential release of Martinez while he was in custody. The author recommended Martinez be held in custody. The report revealed Martinez has a lengthy criminal record out of California including being an alien found in the United States after deportation, parole violations, illegal re-entry to the United States, burglary, battery, theft and obstructing a public officer.

Other jail records show that “[Martinez] has entry/removal from United States to/from Mexico 20 times with at least 5 probation violations from re-entry.”

Jail records submitted in March 2017 show Martinez’s most recent deportation to Mexico was Nov. 2, 2016. It remains unknown how or when he returned to the United States.

Several federal cases have been filed against Martinez for his alleged illegal re-entry into the United States.

A spokesperson with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told KOIN 6 News Wednesday that the agency was looking into Martinez’s cases and would provide an update later Thursday.

In a letter dated September 21, 2016, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese wrote that the county is “not responsible for enforcing federal immigration policy….MCSO follows the direction of the Federal District Court of Oregon prohibiting local jail systems from honoring ICE detainees. Additionally, there are provisions of Oregon law which restrict our cooperation with federal immigration authorities.”

The letter goes on to state, “The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does not hold persons in jail based upon their immigration status.”

In a joint statement issued in January 2017, eight high-ranking elected officials within Multnomah County issued a statement reiterating the county’s policy.

“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does not give ICE officers access to areas of court facilities that are not open to the public, and does not permit ICE officers to maintain a presence in any County correctional facility….The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office does not notify or alert immigration officials or agencies regarding individuals with whom [it] come[s] into contact.”

Martinez is due back in court next month. Portland police told KOIN 6 News it is likely additional charges will be filed against him.

Jail sued over holding immigration detainees

A lawsuit was filed Friday, July 21, in Wasco County Circuit Court claiming the regional jail is violating state law by holding immigration detainees.

The lawsuit, filed by the Oregon Law Center in Portland on behalf of four Wasco County residents, asks the court to stop the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities (NORCOR) from holding the detainees.

The four plaintiffs in the suit are Brian Stovall, John Olmstead, Connie Krummrich and Karen Brown.

A 1987 state law prohibits the use of state or local resources to “detect or apprehend” people whose only offense is being in the country illegally.

The lawsuit states Oregon law defines apprehend to include “restraining an individual’s liberty so that the [government] can assert the authority of legal process over that individual.”

The suit contends the jail is in violation of that state law through its contract “which requires it to incarcerate individuals solely to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

Will Carey, attorney for NORCOR, said that while state law says resources can’t be used to detect or apprehend illegal residents, “We aren’t doing any of those things, we are just housing prisoners. We also have a policy that we won’t hold anybody who is only being held because they’re a citizen from another country and don’t have proper papers to be here.

“As a matter of fact, the head of NORCOR, our jail administrator Bryan Brandenburg, went through the list the other day and found two people that he didn’t think qualified. He called up ICE and made them come down from Tacoma and pick them up.”

Carey said the lawsuit is a complaint that “an institution is violating Oregon law because it’s cooperating with the United States. So you’re in violation of Oregon law because you’re cooperating with the U.S. That’s going to be an interesting concept. I don’t think they’ve probably even faced this since the Civil War.”

Almost since the jail opened in 1999 it has housed immigration detainees. After a detention facility for detainees was built in Tacoma, the federal government stopped sending detainees to the regional jail, causing a budgeting crisis for the jail.

In 2014, the jail signed a four-year contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold federal detainees. It was amended in 2015 to include detainees from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].

Brandenburg has previously said that all detainees being held at the jail have final deportation orders.

The jail’s current budget anticipates that ICE will use around 22 jail beds per day, though sometimes it is as few as five. The anticipated revenue for the current fiscal year is $1 million.

The lawsuit states the contract requires the jail to accept federal detainees who “are awaiting a hearing on their immigration status or deportation.”

Carey said he believed the lawsuit is “a pure political thing” that was a result of the presidential election. While deportations were high under former President Barack Obama – and the regional jail housed detainees for years without controversy — President Donald Trump campaigned on a hard stance against illegal immigration.

Citizens began attending regional jail meetings earlier this year, and were asked by jail board officials why they were only now focused on the fact that the jail houses detainees. One attendee said she hadn’t realized it before, but was now taking action.

The lawsuit contends the jail does not house federal detainees because of any violation of state or local law.

Rather, the jail uses “county money, personnel and equipment to incarcerate people solely because they allegedly are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

The suit says the 1987 state law is intended to prevent agencies from assisting “federal officials at any stage of the immigration enforcement process.”

Carey said, “We’ve told the marshal’s office and we’ve told ICE, if they’re not charged or convicted with a crime, then we won’t hold them.”

The lawsuit states, “Whether or not these persons have criminal charges or convictions, the sole reason they are held by NORCOR is to assist ICE in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

In a press release distributed Monday, Jessica Campbell, co-director of the Rural Organizing Project, a statewide network of over 60 groups organizing for human dignity across Oregon, said, “NORCOR officials have been violating Oregon law by using taxpayer money to detain people for federal immigration purposes.

“This is not only a violation of the law, it’s a violation of the trust Oregonians have in their locally elected officials and their public institutions.”

In May, a spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the Associated Press the 1987 state law did not apply to NORCOR's contract to house ICE detainees because "it doesn't appear that NORCOR resources are being used to detect or arrest people."

Mat Dos Santos, legal director for American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, told Willamette Week in May that he believed the Attorney General’s office was wrong.

“We think it’s a clear violation of state law for a local facility to house ICE detainees.”

He said “apprehend” not only means arrest, but “detain.”

The suit contends the plaintiffs are subject to the risk of additional future taxes.The ICE contract states the jail is responsible for all medical care provided inside the facility to detainees. (The federal government is responsible for all medical care provided outside the facility.)

The contract assumes the jail’s medical expenses are covered in the $80 per diem rate for each inmate.

The lawsuit notes the jail is only paid in arrears for holding detainees, subject to the availability of funds appropriated by Congress.

It notes the contract requires the jail to apprehend escapees at its own expense, at federal direction.

Carey said it costs $6.2 million a year to run the jail, and the four member counties, Wasco, Hood River, Sherman and Gilliam, contribute $3.8 million. Wasco County pays about $2 million of that.

The regional jail helps support the cost of running the jail by renting beds to ICE, Carey said. “So it’s not like we’re taking money away from Wasco County taxpayers, we’re actually precluding them from being taxed for more money.”

Andrea Williams, the executive director of Causa Oregon, a statewide immigrant rights organization, said in a press release, “We applaud the courage of those who are challenging NORCOR’s use of local public funds and hope that NORCOR stops detaining people for federal immigration purposes.

“We must uphold the integrity of Oregon’s 30-year-old law that limits our local resources from being used to enforce questionable federal immigration policies,” said Williams, who is not involved in the lawsuit.

Carey said the Oregon Law Center sent him a letter July 12 telling him that if NORCOR did not notify the federal government it would stop accepting ICE detainees by Friday, July 21, it would file suit.

Help overturn Oregon's Sanctuary Statute - gather signatures for IP #22

Alert date: 
2017-07-21
Alert body: 

Oregon was the first state in the country to pass a "sanctuary" statute 30 years ago.

Today, with illegal aliens causing a myriad of problems in states across the country, it makes no sense to have laws that prohibit law enforcement officers from aiding in the enforcement of our Federal immigration laws.

Illegal aliens are not and should not be a "protected class" of people, allowed to break our laws if it suits their purposes. 

Oregonians for Immigration Reform and three Oregon Legislators (Rep. Sal Esquivel, Rep. Greg Barreto and Rep. Mike Nearman) are working to overturn Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820 - Oregon's Sanctuary Statute - to allow law enforcement to more easily assist ICE in removing criminal aliens from our communities.

Please help OFIR by volunteering to collect the needed signatures of your friends, family, at events you attend etc. to get this initiative on the November 2018 General Election ballot. Voters can tell our Oregon Legislature, loud and clear,  to stop shielding people in our country illegally. Remove the state statute that prohibits law enforcement officials from working with ICE to remove criminal aliens from our state!

Call 503.435.0141 to request signature sheets.  If you get the answering machine, please leave the following information:

FULL Name

FULL Mailing address  - including County

Telephone number

How many TEN line signature sheets you would like OFIR to send to you

Let's get busy!

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