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By Helen Silvis | The Skanner News
Published: 17 April 2014

The Oregon Sheriffs' political action committee has come out in opposition to Measure 301 which would permit undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.

In a release Sheriff Tom Bergin said 28 of Oregon's 36 Sheriffs voted to bar people without proof of legal residency from being allowed to apply for drivers privileges. The other eight sheriffs took no position.

“Offering the privilege to drive to people who are breaking the law makes no sense to those of us who enforce the law,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin. “It just doesn’t pass the ‘common sense’ test.

The sheriffs plan to campaign against Measure 301, which will be up for a vote in the November election. 

At the same time, sheriffs in Deshcutes, Gilliam, Hood River, Sherman and Wasco counties have joined Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington sheriffs in suspending the practice of holding people  in jail for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  

U.S. District Court Judge Janice M. Stewart ruled last week that detaining people who otherwise would be released, because of an ICE request, could violate the constitution. The ACLU has challenged the detentions in federal courts around the country, and the state of California and at least eight cities, including New York and New Orleans, have now stopped holding people for ICE. 

Elsewhere, people arrested for minor misdemeanors can be held in jail for up to two days, before ICE picks them up and transports them to a detention center to await a deportation hearing.

“Detainers raise serious constitutional concerns by depriving individuals of freedom without due process of law and, in most cases, without probable cause of any criminal act,” the ACLU said in a press release.

“Moreover, state and local corrections officials frequently violate the 48-hour limitation by continuing to hold individuals beyond the period requested. Detainers have resulted in the illegal imprisonment of countless individuals—including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Latinos in particular—without any charges pending, sometimes for days or weeks after they should have otherwise been released from custody…

“Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton took a positive but small step forward when he implemented a policy in 2013 to limit the instances in which his office would honor ICE detainers. 

“The ACLU thanks Sheriff Staton, as well as Sheriff Craig Roberts in Clackamas County and Sheriff Pat Garrett in Washington County, for their decisions to now suspend this harmful practice altogether unless ICE provides probable cause for the prolonged detention in the form of a judicial warrant…”

The issue of how to police communities when undocumented immigrants fear deportation is on the national agenda.

 Philadelphia is the latest city to suspend ICE detentions. Mayor Michael Nutter announced his decision this week, saying Philadelphia police will only hold undocumented immigrants who have first or second degree felony convictions and a judge issues a warrant. Nutter says he wants to rebuild trust between police and immigrant communities so people can report community problems without fear of deportation.

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