Lawmakers seek records to reveal federal immigration enforcement in Oregon

SALEM — Four state lawmakers are asking the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for information on its policies and operations in Oregon following several high-profile arrests and detainments of immigrants carried out by its agents in the state.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland; House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland; Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn; and Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland filed a records request with the agency Wednesday. The six-page request seeks communications between the agency’s Oregon staff with words or phrases that may relate to immigration issues and its policies, memoranda, rules and directives.

In their request, the lawmakers say the immigration agency’s actions in Oregon have sparked fear and confusion among some constituents, who have flooded their offices with “impassioned” calls, letters and emails seeking clarity on immigration policy.

“We have heard stories of children who are afraid to go to school in case it brings attention to their immigrant parents, of women who are unable to seek safety or justice from a court because they have heard reports of nearby ICE activity, and even families who are going without basic supplies due to rumors of arrests at grocery stores and markets,” the legislators wrote.

Principals at schools with large immigrant enrollments say students are genuinely fearful, but there are very few instances of children no longer coming to school. Danny Nunez, principal of Woodburn’s Valor Middle School, said at his 636-student school, only one family has pulled their children due to fears.

Federal immigration agents recently arrested 11 immigrants near Woodburn, sparking pushback from advocacy groups. Plainclothes agents also attempted to make arrests at the Multnomah County Courthouse, which led a judge to help an undocumented immigrant evade arrest by allowing the man to exit the courthouse through a staff entrance.

The lawmakers’ letter also raises concerns about arrests and detainments of other immigrants living in Oregon.

By GORDON R. FRIEDMAN The Oregonian
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