Sanctuary Promise in Action

Over one year ago we celebrated a huge victory when we passed the Sanctuary Promise Act! Thanks to the hard work of human dignity leaders, Oregon now has the strongest sanctuary policies in the entire country. Now we get to make sure everyone knows about this big win so that we can uphold the new protections and stay safe! Read on for more details on what the Sanctuary Promise Act does and how to spread the word.

Since 1987, Oregon has had a state sanctuary law, which prevents local law enforcement and other state agencies from using public resources to aid federal immigration enforcement. Despite this law, law enforcement was continuing to cooperate in systems of immigrant detention and deportation. Over the past decade, human dignity groups identified patterns in these violations of our sanctuary law. Specific instances included that the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) and two other local jails had contracts to detain people for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), people from Yamhill to Clatsop counties were getting detained inside of courthouses when they went in for hearings or routine appointments, and countless people have been detained just after being released from serving a sentence in jail or prison all over the state. 

We know that when police collaborate with immigration agents, immigrants are too afraid to report crimes, bear witness, and access police protection against assault, domestic violence, robbery, and more. Separating local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement keeps everyone in our communities safer and protects local resources for local issues. 

To figure out how else the goals of the original sanctuary state law were being violated, human dignity leaders in 10 counties met with sheriffs, district attorneys, and judges. These meetings identified ways that local law enforcement was being asked to divert resources away from local public safety in order to enforce federal immigration law. For example, many county sheriffs claimed that they couldn’t stop ICE from showing up outside their jails because their jail rosters including release dates are public information. When human dignity leaders in Benton County talked to their sheriff though, they learned that the Benton County Jail did not ask for anybody’s “Country of Origin” when they booked someone into jail, so that information wasn’t available on the jail roster. This meant that immigration authorities were unable to use the jail roster to profile people based on their country of origin. ROP combined information like this from meetings across the state with stories of people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and worked with allied organizations in Oregon to pass the Sanctuary Promise Act based on what we learned.

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, including: 

  1. Banning local jails from contracting with immigration authorities
  2. Banning immigration authorities from detaining community members in and around courthouses without a judicial warrant
  3. 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
  4. Allowing everyday Oregonians to sue local law enforcement agencies for collaborating with ICE
  5. Creating a Sanctuary Promise Hotline that anyone can call to report a potential violation of the Sanctuary Promise law and access support 
  6. 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.”

Now that we have won, it’s time to spread the word!

Just like with the previous state law, the Sanctuary Promise Act is only as good as the people who know about it! The Department of Justice is charged with putting this law into action, but they haven’t notified many of the folks we’re talking to yet! We’ve been hearing about detentions in Cottage Grove, Tillamook County, Washington County, and beyond, and some of the reports point to collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration agents. It seems like local law enforcement does not have the information they need to act in line with the new policy. Is this true where you live too? 

  • Contact your local law enforcement to let them know that you want them to follow the new requirements put in place by the Sanctuary Promise Act!
    • Call up your sheriff, police chief, or state elected officials to share this information about the Sanctuary Promise Act with them.
    • Have they put new local policies in place so that all members of their department know how to handle requests from immigration authorities? Do they have a copy they could show you? 
    • Let us know how this goes by emailing emma@rop.org. We would love to lift up a department with good policies in place so others could follow their lead! 
  • Share information with your neighbors about the Sanctuary Promise Hotline, where people impacted by ICE detention can call for resources and report potential Sanctuary Promise violations! 
  • Host a training for your group, your community, or your local agency! The Oregon Department of Justice has offered to lead trainings on the Sanctuary Promise Act virtually or in person for any group who wants one. Reach out to us at emma@rop.org and we can get you connected!
  • Are you hearing about ICE activity in your area? Let us know at emma@rop.org and call the Sanctuary Promise hotline to report it.

Many human dignity groups worked to make the Sanctuary Promise Act a reality by meeting with their sheriffs to find out what they were doing on the ground, collecting stories of how people were being detained, and tracking patterns. Now it’s up to us to make sure it’s being put into practice in the ways we had hoped. If we need to go back to the legislature and pass a Sanctuary 3.0 to close even more gaps in the systems of detention and deportation that are tearing families apart, we can and we will.

Let us know what you find out by emailing us at emma@rop.orgDo you have other ideas about how to best spread the word locally or statewide? We’d love to strategize with you!

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