Oregon lawmakers aim to increase protections of immigrants

SALEM  — Public bodies in Oregon would be prohibited from sharing information about a person's immigration status and details like addresses, except when required by law, under a bill filed Wednesday in the Oregon House.

The bill was filed by Teresa Alonso Leon, a Democrat from Woodburn, and Diego Hernandez, a Democrat from Portland as federal immigration officials are stepping up enforcement activities under President Donald Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have gone into the Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland to detain people when they showed up for scheduled court appearances.

Under the bill, introduced on behalf of Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, the date, time or location of a person's hearings or appointments that are not already public record cannot be disclosed by the public body.

"Oregon relies on a diverse workforce to support a growing economy, and we must ensure the civil rights of all Oregonians are protected and that the rule of law is respected," Brown said in a statement.

Oregon created America's first sanctuary state in a 1987 law that prevents law enforcement from detaining people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws. In February, Brown signed an executive order that said all state agencies must follow the 1987 statute.

Hernandez said that if the bill becomes law, "a school principal knows how they can protect the private information of students and their families."

He said that he and Alonso Leon have heard from school administrators, county judges, and other public bodies seeking guidance from the state on how to respond if ICE asks for information.

Rosenblum said "increasingly aggressive tactics by federal enforcement agencies" has caused fear and confusion about rights and responsibilities under the law.

"This bill is a way to help make sure our communities have clear guidance so they are in compliance with state and federal law," Rosenblum said.

The bill is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee and should be scheduled for a public hearing shortly, the Oregon House Democrats press office said.

Opposition is expected. Two Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that sought to repeal Oregon's 1987 law, bit it died in committee.

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