ACLU of Oregon Supports Eugene's Ordinance for Protection of Individuals

A version of this testimony was delivered to the Eugene City Council by Bonnie Souza. Written testimony was also submitted.

March 13, 2017 - Over the years, the city of Eugene has made it clear through multiple resolutions related to human rights, and in support of refugees and immigrants, that it strives to be a welcoming and inclusive city.

The proposed ordinance aligns with those values and takes a concrete step to ensure that city resources are not used in ways contrary to those values. The ordinance is an important legal tool to ensure protections for people who live, work, or visit Eugene and who are, or may be perceived to be, immigrants.

Immigration law is, without dispute, the purview of the federal government. State and local governments have no say or role in immigration law.

The decisions of the current President regarding immigration policies have placed immigrants in great fear that families will be torn apart and individuals deported to places where their lives are in danger. 

The city of Eugene has no power to change these federal policies or priorities. The city of Eugene cannot prevent, or interfere with, federal agents enforcing immigration laws. 

However, you do have the power to decide how the city’s resources will be used. The proposed ordinance reflects your legal authority in this area and you should use this authority for good by approving this ordinance.

The second section of the proposed ordinance is a ban on collecting and maintaining information the city has no business in knowing, unless it directly relates to a criminal investigation. The First Amendment protects everyone’s political, religious, or social views, associations, or activities. Yet, we have too many examples of government – at the federal, state, and local levels – collecting and maintaining files with this type of information. 

This ordinance sends a clear signal that this type of surveillance will not be tolerated in the city of Eugene.  

In closing, we want to note that the ordinance mirrors two state laws. By adopting its own version of those laws, the city of Eugene is affirmatively embracing these values for itself and is creating laws that will stand if the state laws are ever changed or repealed.