Lawyers: Add your name to this sign-on letter to stop ICE arrests in Oregon courts.


The Honorable Martha L. Walters
Chief Justice, Oregon Supreme Court
1163 State Street
Salem, OR 97301

Re: Chief Justice Order Prohibiting ICE Enforcement Activity in Oregon State Courthouses

Dear Chief Justice Walters:

As members of the Oregon State Bar, we are writing to voice our support for a court rule to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intrusions into Oregon state courthouses. Since 2017, ICE enforcement activity in Oregon courthouses has skyrocketed. The highly public nature of these courthouse arrests, along with concerns about racial profiling, has caused widespread fear in many communities. Victims refuse to seek protection from the courts, witnesses are afraid to appear, and courtrooms and court hallways are no longer safe and trusted spaces.

Communities, judges, and elected officials in Oregon have condemned ICE enforcement activity in Oregon courthouses, but it continues unabated. This practice offends Oregon’s sovereignty and the constitutional requirement of our courts to administer justice. It is also contrary to deeply rooted principles of Oregon law that protect individuals against civil arrests when going to, or returning from, court. See generally Wemme v. Hurlburt, 133 Or 460, 462, 289 P 372 (1930) (describing the common-law privilege against civil arrest). We understand that this common-law privilege authorizes a court rule, issued through a Chief Justice Order, prohibiting civil immigration arrests without a judicial warrant in or around Oregon courthouses. We also understand that a similar rule was recently issued by the courts in New York.

We join a growing chorus of voices asking you to help end ICE courthouse arrests in Oregon. It is in the public interest to ensure that all members of our communities, regardless of immigration status, may pursue their constitutional rights to defend themselves in court or a make a trip to the courthouse to seek protection without fear that such actions might result in permanent separation from their families and communities. ICE courthouse arrests harm the fair and equal administration of justice in Oregon, impede access to courthouses, and erode trust in the justice system.

We call on you to use everything in your power to ensure that our courthouses remain safe and welcoming for all Oregon residents.
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