Oregon lawmakers passed the “Sanctuary Promise Act” last year, strengthening the nation’s oldest sanctuary state law.
The 35-year-old law restricts local law enforcement from assisting federal authorities with immigration enforcement. The new law clarified and expanded some regulations, including preventing immigration detention centers from operating in the state.
The new law also required the Department of Justice to set up a hotline and website to report violations of the state’s sanctuary law. The hotline went live last week.
During legislative hearings, advocates spoke about ongoing instances of local law enforcement working with and assisting immigration agents.
In 2018, the Oregon Department of Corrections announced it would no longer share information about inmates’ families with Immigration and Customs Enforcement after emails were obtained by Willamette Week. A year before that, records obtained by the Portland Tribune revealed three sheriff’s deputies in Multnomah County had similarly shared information with federal immigration officers.
The new law also added an explicit prohibition on immigration authorities detaining without a warrant a person who is attending a court proceeding or is going to or leaving court. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon sued in 2018 after it tracked 11 arrests by ICE agents in or near Oregon courthouses that year.
A full accounting of violations is not readily available.
“We have never tracked this information (we’ve never been required to),” Kristina Edmunson, communications director for the Oregon Attorney General, said in an email.
Edmunson said she was not aware of any other state agency that has tracked the information either.
The hotline will facilitate data collection about sanctuary law violations. The Department of Justice will investigate allegations of sanctuary promise law violations.
“Our immigrants, refugees, and migrant workers are our friends, neighbors and co-workers, and they are a vital part of our social and economic fabric. No one should feel like they cannot show up to work or school for fear of being arrested, detained or deported,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a news release. “We intend to follow up on every single call and urge all Oregonians to be aware of and use this new resource.”
What is a violation?
The website outlines examples of violations to Oregon Sanctuary Promise laws.
- Investigation or interrogation by state or local police for immigration enforcement purposes.
- Most inquiries, storing or sharing of information about national origin, immigration or citizenship status by police or state or local government.
- Civil arrest without a judicial warrant/order from a court facility.
- Arrests by federal immigration agents of a person on their way to or from court or while at court.
- Police collaboration with federal authorities for immigration enforcement purposes.
- Denial of services, benefits or privileges to a person in jail or on probation/parole based on immigration status.
- Police establishing coordinated traffic stops or traffic perimeters to enforce federal immigration orders or laws.
- State or local government or police failing to document or report requests from a federal immigration agency relating to immigration enforcement.
How to report a violation
The hotline is available in several languages. Similar to the Bias Response Hotline launched in January 2020, the new Sanctuary Promise Hotline will be staffed by trained advocates within the Oregon Department of Justice’s Crime Victims and Survivors Services Division. All calls will be considered confidential.
To contact the new Oregon Sanctuary Promise Hotline, visit SanctuaryPromise.Oregon.gov or call 1-844-924-7829.
To contact the hotline in Spanish, visit PromesaSantuario.Oregon.gov or call 1-844-626-7276.
As with the Bias Response Hotline, which received more than 3,000 reports of statewide hate or bias, the hotline will be a “Report and Support System.”
Staff at the hotline will not directly investigate reports of violations but will:
- Support those who witnessed, were the victim of or were impacted by violations of Oregon’s sanctuary laws.
- Refer witnesses, victims and community members to services.
- Inform and support the Oregon Department of Justice’s Sanctuary Promise Investigator to determine if the department can open an investigation.
- Track violations and report to the public who is violating state sanctuary laws and if there are trends.
Other help for victims
To further support victims of hate and bias, Oregon Department of Justice recently became the first state in the country to provide counseling benefits through the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program to anyone who has experienced a bias crime or bias incident, including a sanctuary bias incident.
In addition, as of April 1, victims can apply for up to $1,000 in emergency funds to help with safety, security, relocation or other assistance in the aftermath of bias. Contact the Bias Response Hotline at StandAgainstHate.Oregon.gov or 1-844-924-2427 for questions or to apply. The hotline accepts all Relay calls.