Trump immigration orders force Oregon officials to revisit laws

Article author: 
Lauren E Hernandez
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Local agencies are analyzing President Donald Trump's executive orders that halt federal funding to sanctuary cities and allows law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers.

In one executive order , Trump states the federal government has failed in maintaining a federal and state partnership to enforce immigration laws.

The order requires all executive departments and agencies to "employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws in the United States."

The new policy empowers state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of an immigration officer "to the maximum extent permitted by law."

Jerry Moore, Chief of Police for the city of Salem, said the order doesn't change the way Salem Police Department will operate.

"There is a state law that says we don’t enforce immigration laws and that’s how we’ve done business for as long as we can remember," Moore said. "This executive order doesn't really change that, so unless someone tells me that it has precedence over state law - it's business as usual for us."

Moore refers to Oregon Revised Statute 181.850, which discusses enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The statute states law enforcement agencies may not use agency money, equipment or personnel to detect or apprehend people who are only violating federal immigration laws by being foreign citizens in the United States.

Gretchen Bennett, human rights and relations federal compliance coordinator at the city of Salem, said city law enforcement follows the state practice in order to ensure people are not afraid to reach out to law enforcement for emergency help.

Bennett, who said she was speaking on behalf for Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett , said the city is analyzing Trump's executive orders to understand what, if any, potential policy changes are born from the actions.

"We’re in the midst of analyzing it and we’ve been talking with communities and learning about questions and concerns about fears that folks have about this," Bennett said.

Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton said Oregon law enforcement officers do follow protocol in the event they arrest an undocumented immigrant for a crime.

Upon an arrest, officers take fingerprints and send the prints through the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, a division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The center compares the prints with any other people who have been arrested in the national system.

If the prints return with information stating the person is an undocumented immigrant and is a criminal in other country, officers are required to contact the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE.

Garton said arresting deputies connect with ICE agents and ask if they would like a hold on the suspect. If ICE requests a hold, a law enforcement agency holds the suspect until they can be released to federal agents.

If ICE is not interested in holding the suspect, Garton said the law enforcement agency still lodges them on local charges.

"So does this order really affect what we do on a daily basis? I don't think so." Garton said. "We do our jobs and follow the laws as they are in place."

Trump's order also calls for a cease of funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law.

"These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic," Trump's order reads. "Tens of thousands of removable aliens have been released into communities across the country, solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation."

Trump also plans on terminating the Priority Enforcement Program, or PEP, in order to reinstitute the "Secure Communities Program." The program was administered by ICE from 2008 to 2014 and resulted in the deportation of more than 166,000 undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes. 

The order includes a call to build a wall on the United States and Mexico border and the federal government to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol officers and 10,000 more ICE agents, asylum officers and immigration judges. 

"Continued illegal immigration presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States," Trump said.

While Marion and Polk counties have not formally established themselves as sanctuary cities, officials from both counties will continue following Oregon law and closely assess Trump's orders and subsequent actions.

Jolene Kelley, public information officer for the Marion County Board of Commissioner's Office, said there is no formal definition of "sanctuary city," and the county has not made any formal action to determine that status.

"I think that everybody is watching the federal government to see what happens and see how it may, or could, affect programs," Kelley said.

Regions that have adopted that sanctuary moniker and refuse to comply with federal law face a cut in federal funding.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler released a statement in response to Trump's executive order and stood by his city's status as being a sanctuary city.

"We will not be complicit in the deportation of our neighbor," Wheeler said. "We are a city built on immigration."

Cities for Action , a collaborative of mayors throughout the United States who aim to create an inclusive environment for immigrants, released a joint statement in response to Trump's order as well.

"Today’s executive orders do not change who we are or how we govern our cities, and we will fight against attempts to undermine our values and the security of our cities," the statement reads.

Mat dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon , said the civil liberties organization called Trump's order "dangerous."

"Locking up asylum seekers that pose no danger or flight risk is unconstitutional and really benefits nobody," dos Santos said.

Trump's order states the secretary of Homeland Security will publish a comprehensive list of "criminal actions" by undocumented immigrants and any jurisdiction that fails to detain undocumented immigrants in a weekly "Declined Detainer Outcome Report."

"I think Trump hopes that local officials will buckle under the threats of stripping of federal funding, but (sanctuary cities) been working with local organizations to protect immigrant communities," dos Santos said.

As local and state government agencies across the nation delve into the executive orders to determine potential outcomes for their respective agencies, dos Santos said he knows one thing for sure.

"We'll see Trump in court," dos Santos said.

Governor Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.