SALEM, OR — On Thursday, the Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 3265, the Sanctuary Promise Act, which Democrats say will protect Oregonian immigrant and refugee communities "by prioritizing community safety, human rights, and dignity."
In 1987, Oregon became the first "sanctuary state" in the US, barring law enforcement from detaining undocumented immigrants if they have not committed a crime beyond being in the country illegally. An attempt to repeal the law in 2018 gathered enough signatures to appear on the ballot, but failed at the polls.
If passed in the Senate and signed into law, HB 3265 would update the current laws and set clearer guidelines, prohibiting local law enforcement and government agencies from working and engaging with federal immigration authorities for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law.
House Democrats said it will also work to reestablish the trust in government and local systems that has been lost in past years with the unlawful detainment of community members, growing doubt of government intentions, and creation of policies like public charge.
"Immigrant and refugee communities are human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion,” said co-chief sponsor, Representative Teresa Alonso Leon. “When people come to this country, in many cases it is because they are fleeing poverty, violence, and natural disasters, an experience I know firsthand. HB 3265 will make sure our communities’ safety is prioritized, while also providing legal recourse in the face of injustice.”
Specifically, HB 3265 will prohibit local law enforcement and other public entities from gathering and sharing individuals’ immigration information with federal immigration authorities, from providing assistance with immigration law enforcement, and from operating immigrant detention centers. It will also prohibit federal immigration authorities from carrying out warrantless civil arrests in and around Oregon’s courthouses and provide immigrant and refugee communities with the option to take legal action if the law is violated.
Democrats said that the legislation was brought forth by Oregon’s immigrant and refugee communities and passed in consultation with community stakeholders, including law enforcement, counties, district attorneys, our court system, the Department of Corrections, and the Attorney General.
“Oregon’s communities are stronger, healthier, and safer when they are inclusive of all,” said Tony DeFalco, executive director of Latino Network. “People of color, immigrants, and refugees in Oregon seeking to take part in civic society and access needed services experience exclusion and harm when they are targeted because of their perceived immigration status. HB 3265 will create real and tangible progress toward reducing this exclusion and harm.”
The bill passed 36-21 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.