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Monday, July 9, 2018

Broad Coalition Launches to Defeat IP 22


A broad coalition of more than 80 business, labor, faith, civil rights groups, and law enforcement leaders have formed a campaign to defeat the attempt to get rid of Oregon’s “sanctuary” law or initiative petition 22 (IP 22), should it qualify for the November ballot.

If IP 22 does qualify, Oregonians United Against Profiling is prepared to mount an aggressive statewide campaign to defeat the measure. Backers of the repeal reported they turned in 110,000 signatures to the Secretary of State, which will now be counted and verified.

Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa Oregon and a founder of the new coalition, said she worries that Oregon could become a “show me your papers” state if the law is thrown out.

“Oregon’s existing ‘sanctuary’ law has been protecting Oregonians from unfair racial profiling for more than 30 years,” Williams said. “No Oregonian, including those who may be undocumented immigrants, should have to live in fear that doing basic things like going to work or school or reporting a crime to police could result in harassment or their families being torn apart.”

Retired Hillsboro police chief Ron Louie said the law has helped increase trust in law enforcement, which is critical for officers who rely on community members to come to them when they are victims or witnesses of crimes.

“Our Oregon law provides clear guidance to local law enforcement officers on how to handle complicated immigration issues,” Louie said. “It creates a bright line that says local police should be focused on solving local problems.”

The 31-year-old “sanctuary” law clarifies and distinguishes between the roles of local and federal law enforcement related to immigration and states that Oregon police personnel, funding, equipment, and facilities cannot be used for activities that are the responsibility of federal immigration agents. The law was passed in 1987 with the near unanimous support of state Republicans and Democrats to address widespread profiling of those perceived to be undocumented immigrants and to keep local police resources focused on enforcing local laws.

Civil rights leader and long-time resident of Woodburn Ramon Ramirez said he remembers what Oregon was like without the law.

“Before Oregon had this law, I saw immigration agents, aided by local police, busting down doors and grabbing people off the street, with no way of knowing their immigration status,” Ramirez said. “My friends and neighbors, including U.S. citizens, were being harassed by local police demanding to see their papers. Passing this law made things a lot better. Throwing it out would turn back the clock and open the door to more profiling.”

IP 22 is backed by Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) and the national group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Both groups have been designated “extremist hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Groups backing Oregonians United Against Profiling include Oregon business leaders Nike, Columbia Sportswear, the Timbers and Thorns, and the Portland Business Alliance; civil rights and immigrant rights groups Causa Oregon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon (ACLU of Oregon), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Immigration Law Center; and unions including Oregon Education Association (OEA), SEIU, AFL-CIO, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United (PCUN).

The campaign website is at ORUnited.org.   

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Causa calls on Congress and elected officials to end the so called “Zero-Tolerance” practice and stop terrorizing immigrant children and their parents.

Currently, under a zero tolerance policy implemented by Attorney General Sessions, parents who cross the border into the United States are prosecuted for illegal entry or illegal re-entry. This is a federal criminal charge, rather than a civil charge and has resulted in parents being detained and separated from their children. There is no law requiring DHS to separate families. The policy the administration has chosen constitutes a violation of international and U.S. law, as acts of torture against children and their parents which will leave scars throughout their lives.

Trump and Sessions can and should stop this horrific practice immediately by dropping these federal charges against individuals and ending the prosecution of those who enter outside of the ports of entry. Indefinitely detaining families in detention camps as Trump’s newest Executive Order dictates is not a solution. It will continue the suffering of families and funnel federal money into private prisons. The Executive Order does not prohibit the separation of family or require the 2,300 children already torn from their parents to be reunited.

Instead, Congress should drastically reduce funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and stop funneling funding to private prisons. Each fiscal year, ICE and CBP are given more dollars through the appropriations process. This money is used to conduct increased interior enforcement actions that have been riddled with questionable due process violations and to hold immigrants in detention centers indefinitely. Under Trump’s newest Executive Order, more detention centers for families will be necessary. Many of these detention centers operate under deplorable standards leading to sickness and in some cases even death. Congress must stop funding Trump’s detention and deportation machine.

Congress Members should co-sponsor and push to pass legislation that would provide critical protection for parents and children. The following is a list of current legislation that would provide some relief for families that are being separated at the border and unable to access due process protections in the court system:

  •  S. 3036 (Feinstein D-CA) - Keep Families Together Act
  • H.R. 2572 (Roybal-Allard D-CA)- Protect Family Values at the Border Act
  • H.R. 5950 (Roybal-Allard D-CA) / S. 2937 (Smith D-WA) - the HELP Separated Children Act
  •  H.R. 2043 (Lofgren D-CA) / S. 2468 (Hirono D-HI)- Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018
  • H.R. 6135 (Nadler D-NY) and more than 190 House Democrats- Keep Families Together Act

Friday, June 15, 2018

Family separation hits home in Oregon: 123 asylum seekers now detained in Sheridan prison

Last week, the federal government transferred 123 immigrants from detentions near the U.S.- Mexico Border to the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, part of an unprecedented contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons to hold 1,600 immigrants nationwide for ICE. Among the detainees being threatened with deportation are fathers who were forcibly separated from their children by ICE as they arrived fleeing violence in their home countries.

This news comes as the Trump Administration’s inhumane “zero tolerance” policy to detain and separate families seeking asylum is tearing children and their parents apart daily. The damage caused by this policy - children in makeshift shelters, overflowing detention centers, and human rights violations - represent a humanitarian crisis that has now hit Oregonians in our backyard. 

Causa stands with the Sheridan detainees and all families who are asserting their right under U.S. and international law to seek protection from persecution. We join elected leaders and partners in the grassroots, legal, and faith-based communities in condemning the inhumane practices of forced separation and detention of parents and children. We demand that the detainees be immediately granted access to legal representation and clergy visits, and that their children be accounted for and reunited with their parents without delay. 

When our immigrant communities come under attack, Oregonians respond. A rapid legal response effort is underway led by Innovation Law Lab and the Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Sheridan neighbors led by Unidos Bridging Community in Yamhill County immediately launched a community response to demand justice for families. 
 
You, too can stand with immigrants and demand justice for separated families. Here are five ways you can support:

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