Media Contact

Ramon Valdez, Innovation Law Lab, ramon@innovationlawlab.org, m - 971.238-1804
Sarah Armstrong, ACLU of Oregon, sarmstrong@aclu-or.org, m - 503.756.3147

November 14, 2019

SALEM, Ore.一Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court Martha Walters today announced a new rule to stop warrantless, civil arrests in Oregon’s courts. Community groups and immigration advocates petitioned the Chief Justice to adopt the rule in response to rising concern over increased immigration arrests at Oregon’s courthouses. The rule prohibits arrests inside any state courthouse and in public entryways, walkways, sidewalks, driveways, and parking areas around the courthouses. 

“This rule will bring an end to ICE’s destructive policy of courthouse intrusions making immigration arrests inside Oregon’s courts without judicial warrants and often without identifying themselves or producing any documentation at all,” said Stephen Manning, executive director of Innovation Law Lab, a national immigrants’ rights group based in Portland. 

“Our courthouses, like our schools, places of worship, and hospitals, are by their very nature sensitive places where all Oregonians must be able to enter without fear,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “These courthouses, located throughout the state, are centers of civic life, and are absolutely critical for everything from marriage to divorce, to filing for a restraining order, to pursuing justice in our courtrooms. Unfortunately, until now, many of our community members could not use our courthouses without constant fear.  With this Uniform Trial Court Rule, courthouses in Oregon will now be included as sensitive spaces prohibiting civil arrests unless the arresting agency has a judicial arrest warrant. This protects our witnesses, victims, jurors, defendants and other members of the public from interference while they conduct the business of our legal and justice systems. Thank you to our Chief Justice Martha Walters for issuing this important emergency rule, and to the broad coalition of stakeholders who worked to ensure that this critical issue was given the priority it deserves. Thanks to this new rule, Oregon will be a safer and more welcoming place for all.”

Community members and advocates have raised alarm that agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are frequently present at Oregon’s county and municipal courthouses, profiling and targeting community members to make non-criminal, civil immigration arrests. 

“We hear too often from devastated family members whose loved ones have been snatched up out of Oregon courthouses by people in street clothes and stuffed into unmarked cars and driven off,” said Cristina Marquez, interim executive director of Causa Oregon. “People have been afraid to go to the courthouses.”

“ACLU of Oregon legal observers have repeatedly witnessed ICE officers profile, stalk, and violently arrest community members in Oregon courthouses,” said Katherine McDowell, attorney and board member of the ACLU of Oregon. “The courthouse rule stops these frightening practices and ensures that everyone can seek justice in our courts.” 

Carl McPherson, executive director of Metropolitan Public Defender said he was thankful to the Chief Justice for addressing the problem. “As a result, our clients, witnesses, and other court-goers can participate in our judicial system without fear of being arrested and detained by ICE. By issuing this rule, the Chief Justice has ensured that access to our courts is protected for all people regardless of their immigration status.”

The rise in ICE arrests at Oregon courthouses is a direct byproduct of two executive orders issued by President Trump, early in his presidency, which made anyone subject to removal a priority for immigration enforcement. The ICE detentions often involved racial profiling and the use of physical force against individuals, their families, and bystanders. 

Oregon is the third state in the country, after New Jersey and New York state, to issue a statewide court rule prohibiting ICE from making civil arrests at state courthouses without a judicial warrant or judicial order. California provides similar protection through a recently enacted statute, and other rules prohibiting civil or immigration arrests exist in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, and King County, Washington. A federal judge has also prohibited ICE’s courthouse arrests in Middlesex and Suffolk counties, in Massachusetts. 

Innovation Law Lab, with assistance from Stoll Berne, formally petitioned the Chief Justice to issue an emergency rule prohibiting ICE arrests at or near state courthouses on the basis of Oregon’s common-law rule last year.  The petitioners were Adelante Mujeres, Causa Oregon, Immigration Counseling Service, Metropolitan Public Defender, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, Unite Oregon, and Victim Rights Law Center. The ACLU of Oregon supported the petition and assisted Innovation Law Lab and Stoll Berne in seeking the court rule.

ICE agents have targeted county and municipal courthouses statewide, with planned or executed ICE arrests occurring, at a minimum, at courthouses serving Multnomah County, Washington County, Clackamas County, Lane County, Marion County, Umatilla County, Morrow County, Sherman County, Gilliam County, Wheeler County, Wasco County, Hood River County, Josephine County, Yamhill County, Lincoln County, Clatsop County, and the municipal courts in Beaverton and Molalla. Those courthouses combined serve nearly 3 million Oregonians, citizen and noncitizen alike.

“Tasked with the administration of justice over criminal issues, domestic relationships, probate, and many other important matters, Oregon state courts form a critical component of our civil society,” said Leland Baxter-Neal, staff attorney at the ACLU of Oregon. “As such, it is imperative that they be open to all Oregonians, including immigrants and persons of color.”

The Chief Justice’s announcement is online here https://www.courts.oregon.gov/news/Lists/ArticleNews/Attachments/1213/ac...

The rule is online here https://www.courts.oregon.gov/rules/UTCR/CJO_2019-095.pdf.

Video of ICE arrests at Oregon courts in Clackamas, Clatsop, Multnomah, and Washington counties is online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MCSWthEFqU&feature=youtu.be. 

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