SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s Legislature took a step closer Tuesday to strengthening its unique sanctuary-state status, with the House passing a bill that would bar state and local agencies from asking about a person’s immigration status and from disclosing information to federal officials, except in certain circumstances.
The bill, introduced at the request of Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, both Democrats, has sharply divided lawmakers along party lines in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
The House Republican Office called it “an attempt to subvert federal immigration policy.” House Democrats said it “will strengthen privacy protections for vulnerable populations.”
Two Latino Democratic lawmakers — Teresa Alonso Leon, from the predominantly Latino community of Woodburn, and Diego Hernandez from Portland, Oregon’s biggest city — filed the bill on May 31, trying to counteract enhanced immigration enforcement ordered by President Donald Trump.
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Principals of two Portland high schools wrote on behalf of Portland Public Schools to support the bill, saying “recent national and local events about increased federal immigration enforcement has caused considerable anxiety and concern throughout our school district and communities.”
“Our students are living in fear that their parents could be picked up by federal officials and they are looking to our schools to be safe places,” wrote Petra Callin of Madison High School and Filip Hristic of Roosevelt High School. They said students’ worries about their families’ safety can distract from learning. Some students are foregoing meals because of fear that filling out a form for free or reduced-cost lunch could put their families at risk of arrest and deportation.
The Oregon Winegrowers Association noted that Oregon’s wine industry and other agricultural businesses depend on…