As Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tears people from rural Oregon communities, rural Oregon is showing up and demanding an end to human concentration camps, detention, and deportation. At least 20 counties across the state in the last week have held vigil in parks, on street corners, and at city hall to demand the closure of all detention centers and that all people are treated with dignity. After months of powerful work across rural Oregon to successfully pass Driver’s Licenses for All in the Oregon legislature (despite a “walkout” enthusiastically embraced by paramilitary leaders), these vigils are public demonstrations of our shared values as rural Oregonians who care deeply about our fiercely interdependent communities and the dignity of every single community member. Read on for resources for your group and community to organize for dignity for all, stories of how rural Oregonians organized to win Drivers Licenses for All, and a roundup of powerful actions folks organized across Oregon to demand an end to human concentration camps, detention, and deportation!
Recent and escalating ICE activity in Clatsop, Umatilla, and Hood River counties underscore the urgency of this moment for people of conscience to take action. Yesterday ICE pepper-sprayed Clatsop County community members for merely asking whether ICE had a signed warrant for the arrest of a community member at the Courthouse. In Umatilla County those recently detained were from Guatemala. Across the state, many communities are receiving Guatemalan asylum seekers fleeing extreme violence and economic instability, conditions created by US foreign policy.
Resources for Rural Organizers
Take action today:
- Join the call to end civil ICE arrests at and around courthouses in Oregon. Contact Oregon Chief Justice Martha Walters and urge her to issue a rule prohibiting civil ICE arrests in and around courthouses. Check out this sample call script and read more about the petition before Chief Justice Walters here.
- Call your members of Congress (find them here) at 202-224-3121 to express your support for:
- Ending all deportation and close all detention centers.
- #defundhate Defunding ICE and Customs and Border Patrol and invest in our communities: housing, education and healthcare.
- Accepting asylum-seekers regardless of the country they are coming from or passing through and expanding and fully funding refugee resettlement programs.
Build a group to take action in your community:
- Keep track of supporters: There is a growing sense outrage across the country and among members of our communities in response to concentration camps, detention, and deportation. When we talked to Klamath County organizers about their rally, they shared that over 70 people lined up to add their name to the sign-in sheet! Now is the time to find new supporters and bring them into our ongoing work. Carry sign-in sheets to all your events and add folks to your email list and database!
- Plan now for your next event and spread the word:
- Host a picnic or a postcard party. Bringing new people into your group and getting to know them can be a great starting point!
- Want to hold a movie screening? Check out the preview of Undeterred, an hour-long film that documents the impact of militarization at the border and tells the story of how rural communities on the border in Arizona are building power to push back against it. **Please note: This film shares detailed accounts of crossing the border and information about inhumane treatment and deaths that can be traumatic to watch, particularly for those close to or with lived experiences related to crossing the border. This information should be provided to everyone interested in seeing the film.
- Contact ROP to set up a strategy session to plan and build your local action plan! Email email@example.com to schedule one today.
When Rural Oregon Organizes, We Win
Here is a snapshot of just a few of the many ways rural Oregonians and human dignity groups contributed to winning Driver’s Licenses for All:
In Umatilla County, human dignity leaders in Raíces held a community forum with over 70 people, collected more than 200 postcards, and rallied and lobbied in Salem on May Day! As a new group, they built this work off of the momentum they had created fighting against Measure 105, which would have repealed our state’s sanctuary law. Knowing that winning driver’s licenses for all will not be the last fight, Raíces is continuing to grow their group by reaching out to their community through forums, postcards, and other events so they can help defend this victory and push for more!
In Deschutes County, local leaders lobbied and leveraged to flip their Representative’s vote! In March, during a statewide lobby day, Representative Cheri Helt told a group of her constituents that HB 2015 was not a priority for her and pushed them aside. After two more months of countless postcards, personal letters, letters to the editor, town hall-style story sharing events, and an in-district meeting, Representative Helt became one of two Republicans to vote yes on Driver’s Licenses for All! This victory was made possible by the incredible organizing of local college students and human dignity groups including the Central Oregon Community College Dreamers Club, First Presbyterian Peace and Social Justice Team, Immigrant Fairness Network, Latino Community Association, and many others!
Throughout the legislative session, thousands of rural Oregonians met with legislators to share powerful stories from our communities about the impact the bill would have, signed and mailed postcards, filled the offices and front steps of the capitol during lobby days, wrote letters to the editor, testified in legislative hearings, and hosted packed community forums! Each new person signing a postcard or attending an event strengthens our ability to defend this victory for the long haul.
Lights for Liberty Vigils and Actions to Close the Camps
Klamath County (News article)