KTA: Sheriffs Must Follow Sanctuary Law

We have created a Facebook page called Proyecto de Organización Rural that is specific to the Guatemalan community in Oregon that speaks Todos Santos Mam. Mam is not a written language and there are not a lot of resources or organizations that offer information in Mam. At the same time, this community is one of the most targeted for detention and deportation in the state. Please share the Know Your Rights and informational videos on our page with folks who speak Todos Santos Mam!


A University of Washington report determined that the majority of Oregon sheriff’s departments have immigration policies that violate the Sanctuary Promise Act (SPA). Rural Oregonians have organized for decades to build safe and welcoming communities for all, and we won a huge victory in 2021 by passing the SPA. The new law expands Oregon’s Sanctuary Law so that no government or law enforcement agency can assist federal immigration enforcement without a warrant from a judge. 

Over two years since we passed the SPA, it’s time to demand better from our sheriffs, and our state. Unfortunately, the majority of sheriff’s departments’ policies still allow collaboration with immigration officials, which violates the SPA. This erodes community trust in police, tears apart Oregon families, and divides communities. You can find your county’s immigration-related policies here. Keep reading for suggestions on how to take action.


Review your county’s policy for violations, and pressure your sheriff to follow state law. We submitted public records requests and received policies from nearly every county in the state. The University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights reviewed these policies and found that at least 24 counties (of Oregon’s 36) are out of compliance with state law. It’s up to us to make sure the Sanctuary Promise Act is fully implemented! 


  1. Get together with your human dignity group. Print out and bring copies of your county policy so you can review it together.
  2. Review the list below to see if and how your county sheriff’s policy violates the Sanctuary Promise Act. 
    • If your county policy is illegal, move on to the next action item.
    • If your county policy follows the law, could your sheriff speak out about the importance of following the law and set an example for other sheriffs and police chiefs?
    • Unsure how to review your policy? Check out this tool for red flags to watch out for.
  3. Make a plan of how you will pressure your sheriff to follow the law and protect immigrant community members:
    • Want to meet with your sheriff directly? Use this guide.
    • Call your state representatives and/or senators using this Legislator Lookup and ask them to make sure the laws they passed get put fully into practice! 
    • Write a Letter to the Editor asking your sheriff to update their policy to align with the SPA. Click here for a template.
    • Work with your local newspaper or radio station to interview the sheriff, and ask them when they will update their policy. 
  4. Formulate Your Message. Start with the template statement from our recent training: Values-Based Messaging Featuring Immigrant Justice, and adjust it to target the audience you want to reach!
  5. Take Action! Send your letter, invite your sheriff to a meeting, or call up your representative.
  6. Follow-Up: Make sure to follow up on your action by letting ROP know what you did, how it went, and what response you got!

Counties in Violation of the Sanctuary Promise Act

The Sanctuary Promise Act was written to expand Oregon’s Sanctuary Law to cover not just law enforcement but ANY public agency or government official and closes loopholes to make sure that the federal government can no longer use local public resources to support federal immigration enforcement. These are the major points of the new policy that impact local law enforcement and the counties in violation of them:

  1. Preventing racial profiling in jails by providing people with the opportunity to notify the consulate of their country of origin without exposing themselves to ICE surveillance. 
  2. Requiring all public bodies to file reports anytime they receive “a communication or request from a federal agency that relates to immigration enforcement, other than a qualifying judicial subpoena.”
  3. Banning law enforcement agencies from taking people into custody for federal immigration violations.
  4. Banning local jails from contracting with immigration authorities.

Counties in violation:

Baker, Clackamas, Clatsop*, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Crook, Douglas, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn*, Malheur, Multnomah, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Wallowa, Washington, Yamhill*

* means the county policy did not explicitly mention at least one of the above points.

Counties that didn’t share policies or had no policies on the books:

Grant, Klamath, Marion, Morrow, Wheeler

Counties with policies in line with the law:

Benton, Deschutes, Gilliam, Polk, Union, Wasco

Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The idea is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results when groups of people gather to complete the same action across the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still complete the KTA each month.