Oregon police agencies have no legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws


By Pete M. Kerns, Chief of Police

No one in Eugene should ever fear for their safety because of their race, religion, national origin or any other factor. Unfortunately, a small number of misguided people turn their biases of others into unsavory words or actions and the effect of those can be fear and intimidation. Your police and your City will not tolerate biased behavior and we are working to protect our community from it.

Times like these raise questions about the role police take in immigration matters. There have been some concerns about whether or not local law enforcement has any involvement with enforcement of immigration status. It is important for everyone to know that Oregon police agencies, including Eugene Police, have no legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

There is a distinct difference between the roles played by local and federal law enforcement. Local law enforcement agencies in Oregon are prohibited by law from using agency money, equipment or personnel to detect or apprehend someone who has not committed a crime and whose only violation is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.

Our goal is an environment that is safe and free from fear. We have professional, well-trained and compassionate police officers dedicated to ensuring this goal is met for our community. Every Eugene Police officer is well trained regarding the law prohibiting local police from enforcing federal immigration laws. Whether we are interacting with children or adults, we will follow the same laws and work toward a community that feels trust in their police force and safe in their homes, neighborhoods and schools.

The law that prohibits Oregon law enforcement agencies from enforcing immigration laws is: ORS 181.850 (1).