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Resolution focuses on city's commitment to respecting all residents; does not make Woodburn a 'sanctuary city'

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - In March, protesters rallied against recent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement activity in Woodburn. The inclusive city resolution passed by the Woodburn City Council on May 22  focuses on the city's commitment to respecting all residents and does not include any intention to resist immigration enforcement.The Woodburn City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday night that declares the City of Woodburn a welcoming and inclusive city regardless of a resident's race, national origin, immigration or refugee status, religion, sexual orientation, gender and age, among other categories.

The resolution, drafted by the Global Inclusion Advisory Committee upon the City Council's recommendation, would not change the way the Woodburn Police Department enforces laws or the way the city conducts business. But Mayor Kathy Figley, who sits on the Global Inclusion Advisory Committee, said the resolution was a priority to show members of the community that all residents are welcome to access city services.

"A lot of the impulse (to draft the resolution) had to do with just the uptick of hate language, and in some areas hate crimes. Some people just feel being mean to people or hateful to people is somehow now OK because the president said it when he was out campaigning," Figley said. "We really started with the consensus that it's not OK and we feel like we need to say it's not OK."

The resolution focuses on the city's commitment to value all members of the community, its desire that all residents feel safe to utilize all city-owned facilities, and its policy that city staff not inquire into an individual's immigration status as a condition of providing city services.

"The inclusive city resolution is one more step in communicating with our residents that they are important, they are valued and they do have access to city services," said Jim Row, assistant city administrator. "We want them to participate in civic affairs."

The city has made clear that the resolution is not a "sanctuary city" resolution, which some cities have passed in recent months. The Portland City Council passed such a resolution in March.

Oregon already requires local law enforcement not to utilize personnel, equipment or monies for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration law. However, state law still allows law enforcement agencies to exchange information with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration of Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies. In addition, local law enforcement agencies may arrest someone charged with a criminal violation of federal immigration laws or who has a warrant out for their arrest from federal immigration agencies.

The inclusive city resolution contains the text from ORS 181A.820, which is the Oregon law that addresses local enforcement of federal immigration laws, and a letter from Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris that was distributed to newspapers soon after the inauguration that addresses hate crimes and immigration fears.

In Oregon, sanctuary city resolutions typically declare a city's unwillingness to cooperate with ICE. The Woodburn inclusive city resolution makes no such declaration.

"A sanctuary city resolution (is) essentially kind of thumbing your nose at the federal government and indicating a desire to obstruct their ability to enforce federal immigration laws. This is not about that," Row said. "This is reaffirming the city's commitment to ensure that all residents have access to city services and the ability to participate in the activities of the city and city life."

Figley said the city will continue to cooperate with ICE pursuant to Oregon state law.

"We're going to adhere to Oregon statutes," Figley said. "This is an instance in which we are obeying state law. And it's certainly not that we never cooperate with ICE. … We have certainly detained individuals who ICE was interested in, although we detained them for other reasons."

Figley said another reason the city did not draft a sanctuary city resolution is that the city can't guarantee every citizen will be safe.

"In all conscience, I can't tell people you're safe if I don't know you're safe," Figley said. "I'd like you to be, we'll try to have your back if God forbid you're detained, we'll try to be sure you get good representation. (But) we can't tell you you'll be safe."

The resolution, though coming months after ICE activity in Woodburn, is still an important commitment to residents, Figley said.

"I think as the summer goes on and you have everything from summer activities and the different festivals and whatnot, you don't want people to stay home, especially from something they'd enjoy," Figley said.

Julia Comnes covers all things Woodburn. She can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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