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9.11 investigation

Call Your State Representative to Protect ORS 181

Important protections in Oregon Revised Statute 181 need your help.
As we've reported previously, there are Oregon House bills which attack the protections of Oregon Revised Statutes 181.575 and 181.850. Specifically, the two bills most in need of immediate opposition are HB 2539 and HB 2554 -- the identical bills which undermine both of the above provisions by allowing Oregon law enforcement to engage in currently-prohibited spying activity merely because a Federal official has asked them to do so. In addition, there is HB 2051, which would repeal ORS 181.850 altogether, allowing Oregon police to enforce INS regulations. What can you do? First, if you do not know this information already, find your House member and their telephone number. Call and urge them to oppose HB 2539, HB 2554, and HB 2051. Please note that if your House member is listed below, they are a member of the Judiciary Committee (where these bills currently reside), and their opposition is especially crucial:
Rep. Max Williams, chair
Rep. Robert Ackerman, vice-chair
Rep. Gordon Anderson, vice-chair
Rep. Jeff Barker
Rep. Bob Jenson
Rep. Jerry Krummel
Rep. Greg Macpherson
Rep. Floyd Prozanski
Rep. Lane Shetterly
Note: If you are a constituent of Represenative Jeff Barker, it is even more critical that you contact him, as he has (reportedly) only heard from his Sheriff and Mayor conveying support. For those who need more background, the ACLU of Oregon has a briefing paper (pdf), and what follows is a set of talking points you might find useful when you make your calls.
Don't Let Oregon Police Be Used For Political Spying Or As Federal INS Agents
Current Status:There are now three bills that would undermine or repeal the "181" laws. As far as we know, none of the bills is supported by any law enforcement agency or association. Bottom line: We strongly oppose all three bills because they would eliminate important protections for all people who live in Oregon.
? HB 2539 & HB 2554 are identical and would allow state and local law enforcement to ignore both "181" laws if "requested" by a federal agency. HB 2539 was introduced by Rep. Betsy Close and HB 2554 was introduced by Rep. Donna Nelson on behalf of Jim Ludwig, an anti-immigrant activist who has been meeting with individual legislators;
? HB 2051 would repeal ORS 181.850.
Who We Are: We are a growing and diverse coalition of Oregon organizations. We include representatives of organizations working in civil rights, law enforcement, domestic violence, immigration, religious, labor, environmental, grassroots and advocacy communities. We share the common goal of preserving ORS 181.575 and ORS 181.850 because they encourage effective law enforcement and protect the constitutional rights of everyone who lives in Oregon.
ORS 181.575 -- Protects Against Police Spying on Innocent People and Organizations:
The law prohibits law enforcement agencies from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious, social views, associations or activities of any person or group unless that information directly relates to a criminal investigation.
Oregon's History of Abuse: From the creation of the Portland Police "Red Squad" in the 1940s until the passage of this law in 1981, hundreds of political, religious and other organizations were the subjects of FBI and police surveillance for no valid reason. A recent series in the Portland Tribune (September 2002) uncovered Portland police intelligence files tracking groups such as ACLU of Oregon, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Hispanic Commission, Peace House, Planned Parenthood, Rape Relief Hotline, Sierra Club, United Farm Workers and many more.
ORS 181.850 - Allows State & Local Law Enforcement to Focus on Oregon Priorities:
This law prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from targeting people based on their race or ethnic origin when those individuals are not suspected of any criminal activity.
Local law enforcement is prohibited from using resources to apprehend people whose only offense is a federal immigration violation. The law allows state and local law enforcement to contact the INS after they have arrested someone. The law also permits state and local police to request information from the INS that may help solve a criminal case.
This law does not prevent local law enforcement from working with federal law enforcement to investigate threats of terrorism.
History: In the 1980s, several local law enforcement agencies carried out raids and roadblocks in collaboration with the INS targeting Oregon's Latino community. Many lawful residents and US citizens were swept up in the raids and were treated harshly by local police and INS agents. Passage of ORS 181.850 in 1987 has not completely eliminated such practices, but has helped create dramatic improvements in the relationship between immigrants and the police.
Why We Need to Keep Both Laws:
They Help Prevent & Solve Crimes -- Many law enforcement officials support these laws because in communities where people are afraid to talk to police, more crimes go unreported, fewer witnesses come forward, and people are less likely to report suspicious activity. For example, without this law, domestic violence cases will go unreported, leading to injury or death.
They Help Build Trust in Communities -- Many immigrants come from countries where people are afraid of the police, and many Oregon police agencies have spent years building trust that would be undermined by asking local police to do the job of the INS. Police surveillance of lawful political and religious activity also undermines the credibility of law enforcement. Repeal of these laws would undermine the ability of police to carry out community policing.
They Help Keep Priorities in Focus -- State and local budgets have been cut to the bone. There are many federal agencies to enforce federal laws, but only our state and local police can enforce state and local laws. Especially in these times of tight budgets, they need to concentrate on local priorities and local crimes that the federal government won't enforce.
What Our Opponents Say and Our Response:
Argument: Repeal of both laws is needed because of Portland's response to the Ashcroft Dragnet. Response: When Attorney General Ashcroft ordered the questioning of 5,000 men nationwide shortly after September 11th, he noted that the men were not criminal suspects. That was why the Portland Police refused to ask questions about political and religious beliefs and immigration status. The Oregon State Police and other police agencies did participate because Oregon AG Hardy Myers concluded that the questioning was directly related to the 9/11 criminal investigation. Bottom Line: The interviews ordered by Ashcroft are done. Today, all Oregon law enforcement agencies -- including Portland -- are involved in anti-terrorism investigations, and many are part of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Argument: Repeal of ORS 181.850 is needed because last year two nuns were brutally attacked and one was murdered by an illegal immigrant in Klamath County. Response: The existence of ORS 181.850 is irrelevant to what happened. The Mexican citizen accused of the attacks had not had any recent contact with Oregon law enforcement. If he had, ORS 181.850 would not have prevented him from being arrested. In 1992, after serving a prison term in California, the federal INS ordered him deported. In 1993, he showed up in Portland where he was arrested on drug charges, but failed to appear for trial. Last year, the US Border Patrol (an arm of INS) stopped him in Texas and New Mexico while he was trying to re-enter the U.S. Unfortunately, due to inadequate background checks the agents didn't discover his prior deportation order or criminal history. Bottom Line: Oregon police hadn't had any recent contact with the man accused of the attack last fall. Changing Oregon law would do nothing to prevent a similar case in the future.

homepage: homepage: http://portland-or.bordc.org/
address: address: 4117 SE Division Street, PMB #428, Portland OR 97202-1646