Congratulations Rural Oregon! For years Human Dignity Groups pushed local law enforcement to stop collaborating with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in their mission to deport our community members. We met with sheriffs, held community forums, published letters in the paper, did candidate questionnaires, even took our message – “No to Deportations, Not One More!” to the streets!
Then in mid-April, after a Clackamas County judge ruled that honoring ICE hold requests violates peoples’ 4th amendment rights, a domino effect took place as sheriff after sheriff issued statements that they would no longer be honoring ICE holds. The total is now 30 of 36 sheriffs that have committed to not honor holds.
This victory has been a long time coming, and is a victory that belongs to all of us: urban lawyers and advocates, rural human dignity leaders, Oregon DREAM Activist youth, the national undocumented and unafraid movement – we have all been a part of reaching this milestone and we should be proud.
But, our work is far from over. Our struggle must continue until we put at an end to all deportations.
In the few weeks since this victory was announced, we have seen disturbing new tactics on the part of ICE and local law enforcement – to get around the process of ICE holds and continue deporting people. Immigrants are being denied bail in our county jails, local police are escorting ICE directly to the homes of undocumented people, ICE officers are waiting outside of the courthouse as immigrants are released from local jails – the tactics are terrifying.
Our victory has not changed the fact that ICE has their deportation quotas, or that private prisons continue to see dollar signs on immigrants and demand a 90% occupancy rate for their beds. There is no justice for the 2 million immigrants who have been deported during the Obama administration, or for our community members who continue to be torn from their families by ICE.
What can you do to build the momentum?
1. Send an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor to your local paper. This raises the profile of what is happening to immigrants in rural Oregon. For example:
Several weeks ago, a Clackamas County judge ruled that when local law enforcement agencies honor hold requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it violates immigrants 4th amendment rights, which protects us all from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. After the ruling, a domino effect took place as sheriffs all over the state, including our [YOUR COUNTY] County sheriff, [YOUR SHERIFF’S NAME], issued statements that they would no longer be honoring ICE holds. The total is now 30 of 36 sheriffs that have committed to not honor holds.
As a member of [YOUR LOCAL HUMAN DINGITY GROUP], I commend the Sheriff for doing the right thing, in refusing to collaborate with ICE in their mission to tear community members away from their families. I also want you to know that we in the community will be watching to see that the Sheriff follows through on his commitment. We hope that this step signals a new era of local law enforcement starting to build trust with the immigrant community, and trying to repair some of the damage that has been done by years of deportations of our community members.
2. One part of the solution locally is to pass the Driver Card measure this fall – Driver Card access for all Oregon residents will be on the ballot, and will need us all to vote YES. Stay tuned to ROPnet for updates on the Driver Card and strategies for opening values-based conversations about Driver Card access in your community
See this Oregonian article for background on the Driver Card.
3. Start discussing how to take loud, bold, action in your community. Groups that gathered for a driver card, hate, and deportations workshop at the Caucus discussed making October a month of action FOR human dignity and AGAINST deportations. Some recent events to take inspiration from are:
Last month in Lincoln County, ROP groups Centro de Ayuda and the Immigration Information Response Team held a demonstration calling for no more deportations.
Last week in Washington County, Oregon Dream Activists occupied the sheriff’s office, sharing stories of deported family members and telling the sheriff, “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget.”
Join or start a human dignity group in your town that is working on this issue. An ROP organizer can help you connect with like-minded people in your town to start creating a strategy to push back on deportations in your county. Just call us to get started: 503-543-8417.
Look for more updates via ROPnet on stopping deportations, this is going to be a busy year!
Best wishes to you all, and may we work together towards better days ahead.