Sheriff Reese investigates deputies helping ICE

Oregon law prevents local law enforcement from helping ICE

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese on February 23, 2017. (KOIN)
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese on February 23, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said Thursday his office is still investigating a number of emails showing that his deputies were involved in assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in their efforts to deport illegal immigrants.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner 

Emails obtained by the Portland Tribune showed several instances of deputies telling ICE agents where and when to find people ICE was looking for.

In emails from July 2016, Deputy Keith Fisher worked with ICE to presumably deport Ventura Machiccotoc.

One email reveals where and when ICE agents could find Machiccotoc and said he wore a GPS device so they deputy could track him down.

“To me, it’s really frightening to see this kind of situation,” Kayse Jama with Unite Oregon said. “It seems like you have vigilante, rogue officers who are taking the law in to their own hands.”

Jama is asking for an outside investigation to find out if this is systematic or if these were isolated incidents.

Reese recently ended the practice of sending ICE reports of undocumented immigrants in custody. As a “sanctuary state,” Oregon law now prevents local law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration law.

“If we find out an employee has violated state or our policy, I am going to hold them accountable,” Reese said. “With my order I gave on January 31, I provided our employees really clear directions about my expectations.”

His expectations prohibit deputies from providing information ICE regarding immigration status unless that information is already available to the media or the public.

Attorney John Schlosser said at least 2 of the people mentioned in the emails were his clients, including Machiccotoc, who did not have prior convictions. He said that means under state law, deputies should not be assisting ICE.

“I know the officers, I generally like them,” Schlosser said. “I think they are decent people, but this activity upsets me a lot.”

The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon weighed in on the issue Wednesday, saying he thinks the deputies broke the law.

“In 1987, the Oregon legislature passed a law that clearly says that local law enforcement cannot spend state resources enforcing federal immigration law,” Mat Dos Santos said.

Reese is continuing to investigate the situation and there will be a legal review.

The ACLU of Oregon and Oregon Justice Resource Center released a set of practices they ask officials to use to obey state law:

• Uphold existing state law forbidding local law enforcement from acting on federal immigration laws
• Refuse to execute warrants for arrest based on immigration status
• Avoid the unnecessary disclosure of immigration status by the justice system
• Reduce the impact of criminal convictions on immigration status through statutory reform
• End “broken windows policing” targeting low-level offenders.