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 make sure the SPA is fully implemented!

Check out these ways that you and your human dignity group can get involved.