PORTLAND, Ore. -- U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, along with other U.S. House members, unveiled legislation Thursday aimed at protecting "sensitive" locations during immigration enforcement efforts.
It would prohibit arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance in medical or health care facilities, public and private schools, places of worship, courthouses, DMV offices, and locations that provide emergency services.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement currently operates under similar guidelines, but Bonamici says the bill would solidify and expand them.
"So this bill would put that into law and also expand sensitive locations to include courthouses because we are very concerned about people not being able to report crimes or, for example, seek protective orders," Bonamici said.
Bonamici hosted a roundtable discussion at Portland State University Friday morning. Local and state leaders joined the discussion, which centered on why the legislation was needed.
"These are people who feel safer at home with their abuser than they do coming to get services they need," said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, in reference to undocumented immigrants who've avoided domestic violence counseling because they're afraid ICE agents could be staked out a government buildings.
"It pains me that we are not able to take away the fear and the stress and the strain that our community members are feeling," Kafoury said. "I strongly believe this legislation is an important step forward."
There is, however, opposition to Bonamici's idea.
Kevin Hoar, spokesman for the Oregon GOP sent KATU a statement that reads:
“Congresswoman Bonamici is proposing to create a “safe zone” to interfere with the enforcement of federal law that she has sworn to uphold. ICE is performing an essential service to Americans by seeking to detain and deport the illegal aliens who have been committing serious crimes in our country. Why isn’t her priority to ensure that our country is a “safe zone” from the serious crimes of illegal aliens?”
More information on the bill co-sponsored by Bonamici can be found on her website here.