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Oregon moves to strengthen unique 'sanctuary state' status

Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon's Legislature has taken a step closer to defying a federal government crackdown on illegal immigration, with the House passing a bill that seeks to restrict the ability of state and local agencies, including law enforcement, to inquire about a person's immigration status and prohibiting public agencies from disclosing information to federal officials except in certain circumstances.

The bill, passed Tuesday and introduced at the request of Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, has sharply divided lawmakers, with Republicans opposed and Democrats in favor.

The House Republican Office called it "an attempt to subvert federal immigration policy."

House Democrats said it "will strengthen privacy protections for vulnerable populations."

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Oregon House Democrats news release:

House Votes to Protect Oregonians’ Privacy
House Bill 3464 provides clarity on what information can be shared and increases privacy for Oregonians from federal anti-immigration actions

SALEM – Today, the Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 3464, legislation that will strengthen privacy protections for vulnerable populations. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) was filed on behalf of Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

HB 3464 serves to strengthen—in line with state and federal laws—Oregon’s protections by changing the ways that public bodies are authorized to collect and share data with the federal government. It also requires the Attorney General to provide guidance to all public bodies as to how to interact with immigration enforcement activities, and encourages all public bodies to implement the guidance and or update their confidentiality policies.

The legislation comes in response to recent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids throughout the state. Rep. Alonso Leon, who represents Woodburn and North Salem, said her once vibrant and joyful community is living under a cloud of fear.

“Over the last few months, leaders in the communities that I represent and statewide have come to me asking for help and asking for guidance,” Rep. Alonso Leon said. “I have heard from teachers, principals and educators who do not know what to do to protect their students if ICE comes asking for information, I have heard from city employees and local elected officials who want to know what they can do to make people feel safe, and I have heard from our immigrant communities and their allies asking what it is we are doing to protect their families, friends and neighbors.”

The bill:

·       Encourages all public bodies to adopt policies, for consistency and clarity statewide, on the collection of information and how to process requests of information by the federal government.

·       Provides guidance from the Attorney General to public bodies on these policies and complying with federal and state law.

Rep. Hernandez called on his colleagues to stand for civil and human rights and protect all persons who call Oregon home.

“In Oregon, over and over again, we have answered the call to uphold the values of our constitution and the values of inclusivity, equal protection and diversity,” Rep. Hernandez said. “I believe, this bill is good policy, it follows federal law, it creates clarity and consistency for all of our public bodies, it protects the privacy of Oregonians, it protects our limited resources and reaffirms our values as an inclusive state.”

Among the sponsors are 28 House and seven Senate Democrats.

The bill, which passed 35-23, now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration. 

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Oregon House Republicans news release:

Democrats attempt to sidestep federal immigration law with HB 3464

Salem, Ore. - House Democrats today voted to expand Oregon’s sanctuary state law in an attempt to subvert federal immigration policy. HB 3464 seeks to restrict the ability of state and local agencies, including law enforcement, to inquire about an individual’s immigration status. The bill specifically prohibits public agencies from disclosing information to the federal government except in certain circumstances.

“We all acknowledge that our federal immigration system is broken, but HB 3464 will do little to solve the problem,” said Representative Andy Olson (R-Albany). “This bill would make it nearly impossible for state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials and would allow even individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes to escape immigration enforcement. I cannot support this effort to subvert the rule of law.”

In opposing the bill, House Republicans argued the legislation conflicts with the Illegal Immigration Reform Act and the Immigrant Responsibility Act, which prohibit state and local governments from restricting their employees from sharing and receiving information regarding an individual’s immigration status with the federal government. The bill would also prevent public agencies from sharing basic contact information with other public bodies.

HB 3464 passed the House on a 35-25 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.


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