PORTLAND, Oregon (KGW) — Multnomah County leaders on Saturday addressed reports of increased activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at the courthouse and condemned any potential ICE activity at the courthouse.
In a statement, leaders said they have not yet determined if ICE officers have been more active at the courthouse.
The statement was signed by Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Vice Chair Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Commissioner Loretta Smith, Commissioner Sharon Meieran, Commissioner Lori Stegmann, Judge Nan G. Waller, and Sheriff Mike Reese.
They expressed concern that an increased ICE presence could deter people from visiting the courthouse to access its services.
“This is devastating for the people accessing our services, and in many cases, counterproductive to a lawful community,” the statement read.
They also urged ICE officers to recognize that courthouses are a sensitive location and to consider the impact of their actions.
“We can’t have people afraid to access justice in Multnomah County. “
One of the reports came on Friday from Mat dos Santos, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. He tweeted, “ICE is going into MultCo courts & arresting people and sending them to detention/deportation hearings. Some w/o criminal conviction.”
Mat dos Santos @MatPDX 4:30 PM – 27 Jan 2017
Yes. ICE is going into MultCo courts & arresting people and sending them to detention/deportation hearings. Some w/o criminal conviction.
In December, commissioners unanimously voted to make Multnomah County a sanctuary county for undocumented immigrants and refugees.
As part of the policy, the sheriff’s office does not give ICE officers access to courthouse areas not open to the public, does not permit ICE officers from maintaining a presence in any county correctional facility, and does not hold people in county jails on ICE detainers or conduct any immigration enforcement actions.
Like many of you, late Friday we heard reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detaining people who come to the Multnomah County Circuit Court Courthouses.
We immediately reached out to court officials. In the past two weeks, there has been an increase in reports of ICE activity around – and in some cases inside – the courthouse. We do not yet know if there has been an actual increase.
Anything that increases the fear of people accessing our courts is of grave concern. Courthouses need to be safe locations for people to access justice: whether to contest an eviction, seek a restraining order from abuse, or attend a custody hearing. Now, they may be too afraid to show up.
This is devastating for the people accessing our services, and in many cases, counterproductive to a lawful community. We encourage ICE to recognize courthouses as sensitive locations and consider these impacts.
We can’t have people afraid to access justice in Multnomah County.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does not give ICE officers access to areas of court facilities that are not open to the public, and does not permit ICE officers to maintain a presence in any County correctional facility. The Sheriff’s Office does not hold people in county jails on ICE detainers or conduct any immigration enforcement actions. The Board of County Commissioners formally recognized and supported this policy with a resolution on Dec. 22, 2016.
Please contact our offices with any information. And know that we are working to support the families in our community and to provide services to all those in need.
Chair Deborah Kafoury
Vice Chair Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson
Commissioner Loretta Smith
Commissioner Sharon Meieran
Commissioner Lori Stegmann
Nan G. Waller, Presiding Judge Multnomah County Circuit Court
Sheriff Mike Reese
(© 2017 KGW)
Image courtesy of Multnomah County and Newspartner KGW.