Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Gorge ICE Resistance fully supports lawsuit filed by county taxpayers

(Current weeks update coming soon!)

Update from The Dalles, Oregon, July 27th, 2017 -
A group of four Oregon taxpayers who live in the Gorge filed suit Friday against Northern Oregon Corrections (NORCOR regional county jail) and Wasco County seeking to prohibit their local publicly-funded jail from supporting the work of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detaining non-citizens held for civil violations. Since 1987, Oregon law has prohibited local law enforcement from engaging in federal immigration enforcement. The Northern Oregon Regional Correctional facility (NORCOR) is a public jail located in the city of The Dalles, Wasco County and funded by Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties.

“We live in a state [Oregon] that has for 30 years legally upheld values that prohibit law enforcement and correctional institutions from aiding ICE because we want everyone to feel safe accessing public services and institutions,” said Reverend John Boonstra of Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, a group of local clergy who have been visiting detainees regularly at the jail. “Ending the NORCOR contract with ICE would honor our shared values of community safety and keeping all our families together.”

NORCOR, located in The Dalles, Oregon, is a public facility built specifically to house inmates from the four counties that finance it.  In 2014, NORCOR entered into a contract with the federal government to house immigrant detainees, even though Oregon law has prohibited the use of state or local funds on federal immigration enforcement for the last thirty years. By using Oregon resources for federal immigration in violation of Oregon law, the case contends that NORCOR is misusing taxpayer money.  Stephen W. Manning, a lawyer with Immigrant Law Group PC and a member of the Innovation Law Lab, represents several of the taxpayer plaintiffs.

“As long as NORCOR has a contract with ICE, public trust in our local law enforcement is undermined,” said Sarah Kellems, resident of Hood River County. “The mission of NORCOR is to ‘provide enhanced public safety’, however the contract with ICE decreases public safety because our immigrant neighbors feel unsafe accessing public resources and services, including reporting crime.”

Gorge ICE Resistance, a human dignity coalition of more than a dozen local groups throughout the Columbia Gorge, was formed when ICE detainees at NORCOR began a hunger strike calling attention to inhumane conditions inside the jail several months ago. Gorge ICE Resistance held solidarity actions at the jail every day since May 1st, hosted mass community education events about immigration and ICE detainees, and lobbied the NORCOR Board to drop its contract with ICE.  Rallies continue daily to amplify the messages of immigrants held at NORCOR who have asked for improved conditions including microwaves to heat food, access to jobs and programs as well as in person family visits as opposed to the current system of expensive and impersonal video conferencing.

Daily actions: Monday-Friday 5:00pm-6:00pm & Saturday-Sunday 11:00am-12:00pm

For more information in English call Solea 541-980-9242
Para informaciĆ³n en EspaƱol llame al Amber 541-380-1733

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In solidarity,

Gorge ICE Resistance

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