Protesters In Oregon Impede Immigration Enforcement

It is expected that sanctuary jurisdictions will impede immigration enforcement officers’ efforts to arrest or detain criminal aliens.  However, law enforcement officials do not generally expect social justice warriors to engage in a standoff to try to prevent the officials from doing their jobs.  The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mission is to protect America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threatens national security and public safety. Unfortunately, protesters in Bend, Oregon, are taking extreme measures to try and keep them from reaching that goal.

Hundreds of protesters surrounded an unmarked ICE bus for about 12 hours on July 12 to prevent immigration officials from deporting two criminal aliens, Josué Arturo Cruz Sanchez and Marco Zeferino.  After additional federal officers arrived at the scene, the criminal aliens were removed from the bus and taken to a facility in Tacoma, Washington.

It appears that some Oregonians believe their status as a sanctuary state negates ICE’s duty to enforce immigration laws in the state. Central Oregon Peacekeepers President Luke Richter claimed, “If they’re going to take people from a sanctuary city, they need to have proper documentation of that.” As the first sanctuary state in the nation, Oregon has not allowed law enforcement to cooperate with immigration officials since 1987.  In 2017, it expanded its law to make it applicable to all state and local officials, in addition to making it even more difficult for law enforcement officers to work with ICE.  State leaders continue to try to obstruct immigration enforcement, and in 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling that ICE could not make arrests in Oregon courthouses or their “environs.”

However, Oregon’s sanctuary status will not keep ICE from enforcing immigration laws and performing its essential job of protecting the American public. The federal Immigration and Nationality Act gives ICE and other federal immigration agencies the authority to make immigration arrests,  with or without warrants, anywhere in the country.

A sanctuary jurisdiction does, nonetheless, make it much more dangerous for ICE agents.  By not cooperating with ICE, or obstructing the agency’s lawful enforcement activities, it places officer safety and the public at risk by forcing ICE to arrest criminal aliens in the communities, instead of in jails where they would not be armed or able to flee.

Both Sanchez and Zeferino were targeted by ICE because they had previous criminal convictions.  According to Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, “the law enforcement activity in Bend, Oregon, was part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s mission to arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street.”

He further added, “While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with their federal law enforcement duties. ICE will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its officers and detainees, and will vigorously pursue prosecution against anyone who puts them in harm’s way.”

While Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz had been alerted that ICE would be conducting enforcement activity in the area, his office was not provided details. “The Bend police are not involved with ICE operations,” Police Chief Krantz said, “We do not use funds or personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration laws or to detain people based on immigration status. This is consistent with Oregon law and department policies.” According to ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman, ICE does not openly discuss planned operations to help ensure officer safety.

While the protest was happening, Innovation Lab filed an emergency motion in federal court in an attempt to prevent ICE from transporting the criminal aliens to a detention facility outside of the state.  U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut denied the request to keep Sanchez and Zeferino in Oregon, ruling, “The plaintiff has not satisfied its burden to show that defendants did something wrong, or even out of the ordinary honestly. … I wouldn’t typically micromanage where they would take individual undocumented immigrants.” She did, however, set a hearing date for the first week in September for the other issues presented.

Unsurprisingly Governor Kate Brown opposed the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws saying, “I am appalled by the callous actions of the Trump Administration in Bend to target immigrant communities and forcefully disperse a crowd of concerned community members and clergy who for hours held the line against injustice.” Obviously the laws of United States (or even the state of Oregon, given what is going on in Portland) mean little to the highest elected official in the state when pushing her political agenda.

The incident in Bend is not an isolated one and it appears to be a growing movement by open-borders advocates.  In July 2019, in Tennessee, an alien’s neighbors prevented ICE from detaining him by surrounding his car and bringing him supplies to stay inside.  These standoffs with ICE are likely to continue as open-borders advocates give instructions to those illegally in the country on what to do if ICE tries to detain them.

About Author


Shari Rendall brings to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) over 15 years of experience in government relations and grassroots advocacy. In her former position, Shari led the legislation department in coordinating lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill and briefing congressional and administration staff on a wide range of issues. She has also been responsible for grassroots communications and helping state associations devise their legislative strategies. She began her time in D.C. working on Capitol Hill in the office of former Sen. Bob Smith (R-New Hampshire) as a Legislative Aide.