Current Status: There are now four bills that would undermine or repeal the “181” laws. As far as we know, none of the bills is supported by any law enforcement agency or association. Bottom line: We strongly oppose all four bills because they would eliminate important protections for all people who live in Oregon.
Who We Are: We are a growing and diverse coalition of Oregon organizations. We include representatives of organizations working in civil rights, law enforcement, domestic violence, immigration, religious, labor, environmental, grassroots and advocacy communities. We share the common goal of preserving ORS 181.575 and ORS 181.850 because they encourage effective law enforcement and protect the constitutional rights of everyone who lives in Oregon.
Oregon’s History of Abuse: From the creation of the Portland Police “Red Squad” in the 1940s until the passage of this law in 1981, hundreds of political, religious and other organizations were the subjects of FBI and police surveillance for no valid reason. A recent series in the Portland Tribune (September 2002) uncovered Portland police intelligence files tracking groups such as ACLU of Oregon, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Hispanic Commission, Peace House, Planned Parenthood, Rape Relief Hotline, Sierra Club, United Farm Workers and many more.
This law prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from targeting people based on their race or ethnic origin when those individuals are not suspected of any criminal activity.
Local law enforcement is prohibited from using resources to apprehend people whose only offense is a federal immigration violation. The law allows state and local law enforcement to contact the INS after they have arrested someone. The law also permits state and local police to request information from the INS that may help solve a criminal case.
This law does not prevent local law enforcement from working with federal law enforcement to investigate threats of terrorism.
History: In the 1980s, several local law enforcement agencies carried out raids and roadblocks in collaboration with the INS targeting Oregon’s Latino community. Many lawful residents and US citizens were swept up in the raids and were treated harshly by local police and INS agents. Passage of ORS 181.850 in 1987 has not completely eliminated such practices, but has helped create dramatic improvements in the relationship between immigrants and the police.
Why We Need to Keep Both Laws:
· They Help Prevent & Solve Crimes – Many law enforcement officials support these laws because in communities where people are afraid to talk to police, more crimes go unreported, fewer witnesses come forward, and people are less likely to report suspicious activity. For example, without this law, domestic violence cases will go unreported, leading to injury or death.
· They Help Build Trust in Communities – Many immigrants come from countries where people are afraid of the police, and many Oregon police agencies have spent years building trust that would be undermined by asking local police to do the job of the INS. Police surveillance of lawful political and religious activity also undermines the credibility of law enforcement. Repeal of these laws would undermine the ability of police to carry out community policing.
· They Help Keep Priorities in Focus: State and local budgets have been cut to the bone. There are many federal agencies to enforce federal laws, but only our state and local police can enforce state and local laws. Especially in these times of tight budgets, they need to concentrate on local priorities and local crimes that the federal government won’t enforce.