An Open Letter to the Immigration Authorities in Oregon

Written by Stephen Manning — Published on March 14, 2020

Media Contact Information

Ramon Valdez, Director Strategic Initiatives
ramon@innovationlawlab.org
(971) 238-1804

Mar. 14, 2020. Portland, Oregon.

In the midst of one of the most pressing public health challenges, 45 Oregon-based organizations who are members of the Oregon Ready coalition called on the Executive Office of Immigration Review and the Department of Homeland Security to take comprehensive measures to put the health and well-being of our communities at the forefront.

The Open Letter underscores that Oregon is operating under a National, State, and several City Declarations of Emergency and urges the immigration authorities in Oregon to demonstrate leadership.

The broad coalition of organizations called on the authorities to immediately:

  • Cease all ICE field operations and publicly state that ICE will not conduct enforcement activities in and around medical facilities. Conducting ICE field operations at this critical time would sow fear and create community distrust. Requiring individuals to transit the state and appear in person at ICE offices is unwise. GPS monitoring devices should be removed because they may impede public health social distancing Oregonians — every single one of us — must be able to work together to develop effective responses to the public health challenge of the coronavirus without fear of ICE intrusions, arrests, and detentions.
  • Release all Persons at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Their continued detention is dangerous, especially in light of the severity of the outbreak in Washington State and Pierce County. As of March 13, 2020, there are at least 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pierce County. Moreover, detention center conditions make persons in detention inherently vulnerable to contamination, infection, and outbreak. ICE is not prepared to contain or adequately treat those in custody.
  • Close the Portland Immigration Court, extend all deadlines, and continue all cases without penalty toward the individuals appearing in court. On a case-by-case basis, the Portland Immigration Court should hear urgent cases when the parties so request.
  • Prioritize transparency in all processes. DHS and the Immigration Court should build plans alongside the Oregon Health Authority and county health departments. There should be transparency in the planning and executing of all plans.

A full copy of the letter is available here.

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(Updated 3/17/2020 to add additional organizational sign-ons)