EUGENE, Ore. -- Over a dozen protesters waved signs outside the Lane County Courthouse Friday afternoon, claiming the sheriff’s office is in violation of Oregon’s sanctuary state law by assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Several agencies, including immigrant rights groups, sent a letter to Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp. In the letter, they claim that deputies call ICE when a person who is in the country illegally is released from jail and allows special access to the back entrance of the jail so they can easily make arrests.
They believe the assistance violates Oregon law, which prohibits local law enforcement from using public resources to arrest people whose only crime is being in the country illegally.
The protest was organized by The University of Oregon student group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán
"This scares undocumented folks from seeking services and honestly causes distrust in law enforcement," protest organizer Yomaira Tarula said.
Trapp told KEZI 9 News that he believes their policies conform to local, state and federal law. He said they give ICE the same access to the jail like any other law enforcement agency.
"The access that ICE has to the Lane County Jail isn't unique," Trapp said. "It's the same as all law enforcement. There is not really a backdoor for any agency, and it's actually a front door on the jail."
Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon who signed off on the letter to Trapp said they are demanding that the sheriff's office change their policies. If the sheriff’s office doesn’t take action, they said they plan to take legal action.