Prineville officials discuss immigration statutes

City, county leaders, police, SO hold workshop

Prineville city leaders discuss...

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Members of the Prineville police and Crook County Sheriff's Office, as well as the entire city council gathered for a workshop Tuesday evening to discuss Oregon's immigration statutes. They said they want to make sure everyone is on the same page about city, state and federal immigration laws. 

Prineville is not a sanctuary city, but Mayor Betty Roppe said the council always wants to hear from citizens. 

"We felt we needed to have some training sessions, what did it mean to be a sanctuary city?" said Roppe, "so we asked our police and sheriff's departments if they would come and inform us as to how we are treated if we are a sanctuary city, or if we are not a sanctuary city." 

Police Chief Dale Cummins said police are not involved in immigration laws or processes. 

"It's not a normal scope of our duty to investigate immigration law. If we arrested you for a crime, that's not one of the questions we ask," Cummins said. "When we come in contact with the community every day, there is never a time, whether you are a victim or a suspect, to ask the immigration question."

Both the city police and sheriff's office are bound by law and court rulings to not use any money or personnel for immigration investigations.

However, Sheriff John Gautney said immigration law does have the potential to come into effect, if someone is booked in jail.

"If we have a person who is a foreign-born national who has committed a local crime, then we will investigate the crime," Gautney said. "If that person gets arrested and brought to the jail, then we have to notify ICE that we have a national born person in custody. That's part of the law."

It is then up the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide the paperwork to hold that individual in jail. If those documents are not received by the time the person finishes their time served for the local crime, the sheriff's office has to release them.

Prineville is not a sanctuary city, but a resident at the workshop said she just wants people to feel welcome in the community, no matter who they are.

Patricia Beverley, with the group Human Dignity Advocates, has been placing welcoming posters around town, so everyone feels at home.

"We want people from anywhere, as well as the citizens here, to know they're safe and welcome," said Beverley. "The idea didn't begin with immigrants, although they're part of it, they're included."

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