U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement subpoenaed a sheriff’s office in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday for information about two Mexican citizens wanted for deportation, a move that is part of a broader escalation of the conflict between federal officials and local government agencies over so-called sanctuary policies.
ICE, the Homeland Security agency responsible for arresting and deporting people in the U.S. illegally, served the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Hillsboro, Oregon, with the subpoenas in an attempt to get more information about two men, including one who has already been released from custody, said ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman.
Deputy Shannon Wilde, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, said Tuesday that her agency was preparing a statement and had no immediate comment.
Proponents of sanctuary policies say they allow people to feel safe reporting crime without fear of deportation, while those opposed to them say the inability of local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities helps shield criminals.
Oregon’s 1987 sanctuary state law, the nation’s first, prevents law enforcement from detaining people who are in the U.S. illegally but have not broken any other law. Authorities in the state won’t hold in custody those who committed crimes and have finished their sentences to be picked up by federal immigration agents, unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.
A U.S. judge ruled in August that the Trump administration cannot withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants from Oregon to force the state to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement.
Since January, ICE has issued similar immigration subpoenas in California, Colorado, Connecticut and New York. Tuesday’s subpoenas were the first issued in Oregon.
The action means the agency could ask a federal judge to order Washington County to comply and hold it in contempt of court if it doesn’t. It was unclear what options were available to the sheriff’s office, which is subject to the state’s sanctuary law.
The subpoenas relate to two separate cases, both involving Mexican nationals, Roman said.
The first person, a 39-year-old man, was sentenced to more than six years in an Oregon prison for sexual abuse. He was transferred to the Washington County Jail last month and ICE filed an immigration detainer asking the jail to hold him. Roman said he currently faces additional charges of displaying a child in sexual conduct, sexual abuse and sodomy. The agency did not provide the man’s name.
The second person, a 44-year-old man, was released from the Washington County Jail late last year after serving a sentence for driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Hillsboro, Oregon, the Washington County seat, is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Portland.
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