Will local and state Oregon police actively “round up” immigrants who do not have status for deportation under a Trump administration? Do they stop and question people they suspect are undocumented now?
In short, the answer, for the last 30 years in Oregon, is NO. Here are three facts about local police and immigration enforcement that will hopefully calm some concerns. For more background, check out this recent Register Guard article “Local law enforcers: Immigration status alone is no crime.”
1. A 30-year-old Oregon law forbids local and state police from investigating federal immigration violations. In other words, police are not allowed to stop you solely because they believe you don’t have immigration status. They have to suspect you of a crime. And, as Springfield Police Chief Rick Lewis points out, it would not be in the police’s interest to have immigrants who do not have status worried about police deporting them. If cops were enforcing immigration laws, “which is not our function — people would be hesitant to call (police), whether they’re a victim or witness to a crime.”
2. If police do arrest and jail you for a crime, they always ask for your national origin, data which is submitted to the statewide Law Enforcement Data Systems. ICE agents do have access to this database, but Sheriff Trapp says that “often we never hear from ICE” when an immigrant is jailed in Lane County.
3. Oregon county jails are not allowed to detain people while ICE determines their legal status. So you can’t be kept in jail solely because you are here in the country without status.
To sum up, Hecht and Norman believes that immigrants have no need to fear that local police are out to target them. As partner Raquel Hecht was quoted in the Register Guard article, “Local police have had nothing to do with immigration for years. People do need to understand that.”