‘Not going to make it easy for ICE to be disruptive’

Reps. Bonamici, Blumenauer introduced legislation to protect sensitive locations

Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)
Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some Congressional Democrats from Oregon want a law to prevent federal agents from arresting immigrants in places like schools and doctor’s offices.

On Friday, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer were in Portland to explain the legislation they introduced this week — and how they plan to win support.

The lawmakers know this is a tough battle to win, but as Blumenauer said, “We’re not going to make it easy for ICE to be disruptive.”

Pastor Mark Knutson was among those at a roundtable discussion at PSU with the lawmakers plus Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Judge Nan Waller, Sheriff Mike Reece and others. Knutson’s voice shook with emotion as he talked about the trauma to immigrants living in fear a family member may be deported and end up dead in their home country.

US Rep. Earl Blumenauer in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)
US Rep. Earl Blumenauer in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)

“When we deport people, it is often life and death,” Knutson said.

Allaying that fear is one reason Bonamici and Blumenauer are among co-sponsors of the bill to try and block immigration officers from making arrests in “sensitive” locations: schools, churches, courthouses, medical facilities.

Earlier this week, ICE agents arrested 23 undocumented Oregon immigrants — mostly with criminal histories, largely drunk driving.

Blumenauer said support from Republicans for this bill may come not from empathy but from economics.

“We have a huge presence of undocumented workers in hospitality, not just agriculture, construction,” Blumenauer told KOIN 6 News. “This makes a difference in terms of recruiting people where there is not a lot of interest in taking the jobs.”

US Representative Suzanne Bonamici in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)
US Representative Suzanne Bonamici in Portland, March 31, 2017 (KOIN)