DHS and DOJ Respond to Oregon Court’s ICE Lockout Rule

For the last few years, sanctuary jurisdictions have become increasingly popular within the United States. Despite being explicitly prohibited under federal law, the number of sanctuary jurisdictions around the country has continued to grow and currently stands at over 500 jurisdictions. These state and local policies restrict most forms of cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

In the 1980s, Oregon became the first state to pass sanctuary legislation forbidding state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration orders. Then, in October of this year, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a new sanctuary court rule— similar to lockout rules already adopted in California, New York, and New Jersey. This rule prohibits anyone from making a “civil arrest” in a state courthouse or its “environs” without an order signed by a judge.  The definition of “environs” is expansive and includes “the vicinity around a courthouse, as well as all public entryways, driveways, sidewalks, and parking areas intended to serve a courthouse.” Reportedly, the Washington Supreme Court is considering adopting similar court rules.

On Thursday, in response to these court rules, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) sent a joint letter to the chief justices of the Oregon and Washington Supreme Courts urging them to “reconsider this dangerous and unlawful course of action.”

In the letter, the agencies highlight the importance of cooperation among all levels of law enforcement to promote public safety, while also reminding the courts that—under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution— the state-court’s rules “cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly enacted laws passed by Congress when those laws provide authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States.”

Finally, the letter concludes with seven examples of how local sanctuary policies have already failed Oregon and Washington communities. In each example, local law enforcement ignored a federal detainer and released a criminal alien back into the community. Upon release, the criminal aliens proceeded to commit additional and increasingly horrific crimes including: murder, assault, rape, and animal abuse.

Dismantling sanctuary policies has been a priority for the Trump administration since the president took office in 2017. Recently, Matt Albence, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),  held a series of press conferences highlighting the dangers of sanctuary policies. Additionally, ICE has been circulating lists of illegal aliens with serious arrests who could be released into communities with the opportunity to reoffend.

Montgomery County, Maryland, recently reconsidered some of its sanctuary policies, amid national attention, after a series of previously released illegal aliens were later arrested on suspicion of sex offenses. At the same time, voters in Tucson, Arizona—a Democratic stronghold— voted against a measure to make the city an official sanctuary jurisdiction.

To view the full letter please click here.

About Author


Heather Ham-Warren joined FAIR’s Government Relations department in 2018. In her role, Heather advocates for FAIR’s interests before Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. She also reviews and analyzes federal legislation and regulations, as well as conducts research on a wide variety of legal and immigration-related topics. Heather brings with her several years of political and legislative experience having worked for legislatures at the both the state and federal levels. She began her career in D.C. working on Capitol Hill—most recently serving as Legislative Director for a Florida Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.

Comments are closed.