Ore. police no longer allowing ICE agents to train at bureau center

Portland police say they need to comply with city resolution prohibiting city enforcement of federal immigration laws

Maxine Bernstein
The Oregonian

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Police Bureau has halted a two-year contract that allowed federal immigration enforcement agents to use the firing range and classroom space at its training center in Northeast Portland.

The contract was signed in 2018 with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and was expected to run through August 2020. On Sept. 19, Portland Deputy Police Chief Jami Resch sent the federal agency a letter, terminating part of the agreement for use of the training center on Northeast Airport Way.

The decision affects only Homeland Security’s agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, not its agents from the Homeland Security Investigations Unit who don’t enforce immigration laws, according to the Police Bureau.

Members of the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a coalition called Close the Concentration Camps, along with Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty challenged the contract, citing the city’s and state’s sanctuary law, which directs police not to help federal agents enforce immigration policies.

“After an internal review, the Portland Police Bureau is no longer allowing use of its Training Division facility by a portion of the United States Department of Homeland Security because the use of the facility must be consistent with the City’s values and Federal, State, and local laws,'' the Police Bureau said in a statement Wednesday.

Under a city resolution, the city of Portland prohibits the use of city funds, personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration law.

”The use of PPB’s training facility by other law enforcement agencies should be consistent with City values,” Chief Danielle Outlaw said in the statement.

“A mistake was made due to miscommunication during the contract approval process. When the oversight was brought to our attention, we took immediate action,'' she said.

Members of the Portland Democratic Socialists of America and Close the Concentration Camps coalition applauded ending a contract they said was approved without public oversight.

"That the city of Portland, a supposed sanctuary city, took money from ICE and allowed this contract to go into effect is disturbing and wrong,'' said a statement by the two advocacy groups.

The bureau’s training center was funded through a $15 million bond measure. The bureau leases the center to other law enforcement agencies to help offset the costs and contracts with 38 agencies to use it. Requests are examined by the city attorney’s office, according to the bureau.

In 2018, the city signed contracts with the Department of Homeland Security to allow its law enforcement agents to use the training center. That included agents from ICE and from the Homeland Security Investigations branch.

Portland police said they were informed last week about the potential conflict with the city’s and state’s sanctuary policies and suspended Homeland Security’s use of the training center to allow for a review of the contract.

"After review, action was taken to cancel the contract with Enforcement and Removal Operations,'' according to the Police Bureau statement.

Public records suggest the contract was to range from $49,500 to $94,500. It’s unclear how the contract payment will be altered in line with the recent development.

Portland Democratic Socialists of America participated in the Occupy ICE protests at the federal immigration enforcement headquarters in Portland. The group seeks an “end to all ICE activities” in the city and any contracts between the city and federal immigration enforcement agents.

It called the halting of the training center contract with ICE "a small victory in a much larger battle.''

The two groups plan a rally against ICE activities on Oct. 14.

"We will continue to fight against all ICE contracts in the city and the state, whether they be with private business or public government,'' a statement by the groups said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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