Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info



1.  Title of policy: Secure Communities


2.  Description of policy:  Secure Communities is a comprehensive strategy that was first implemented by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) in October 2008 to modernize the immigration enforcement process so as to more effectively remove “criminal aliens.”

How it works: When someone is booked into local custody, their fingerprints are taken. Those fingerprints are checked against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) for criminal history. With Secure Communities, those fingerprints are also checked against the Department of Homeland Security’s database, the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) for immigration records. When fingerprint submissions match immigration records, local ICE officers are automatically notified and can promptly determine if enforcement action is required. Enforcement generally means deportation.

3.  Who is responsible for devising and implementing the policy? The Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with cooperation from local law enforcement agencies (local sheriffs and police).


  1. 4.     What are the characteristics of the stakeholder groups affected by the policy/decision (gender, ethnicity, age, income status, English as a second language, etc)?

Secure Communities theoretically targets non-U.S. citizens who have been convicted of Level 1 and Level 2 offenses.  Level 1 Crimes include crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and weapons.  Level 2 includes crimes such as arson, larceny, fraud, and traffic offenses.  In practice, interagency cooperation (such as open booking policies, information sharing through fingerprint identification systems, case files or lists of foreign born detainees) results in apprehension of both non-violent offenders and local residents who have not been convicted of any crime.  Because of Multnomah County’s policy on Open Booking (i.e. transporting all individuals arrested for any civil or criminal offense to the Central Booking Facility for identification and fingerprinting), Secure Communities impacts non-citizen immigrants who are arrested for minor offenses such as traffic offenses or minor criminal offenses.  InMultnomahCounty, the population impacted is 36% Latin American (largely Mexican), 35% Asian, 20% European and 2% African.


  1. 5.     Is there an intended or unintended disparate impact of the policy on any group? ü Yes   o No


Group                                                       Brief Description of Disparate Impacts







National Origin

Foreign-born.  Immigrants without citizenship. 

Income status


Marital Status


Dependent Status




Race/ Ethnicity

InMultnomahCounty,   Latinos and Asians are disparately impacted by Secure Communities.

Sexual Orientation




  1. 6.      What other feedback, complaints, statistical surveys, research, reports, previous consultations or additional information have you utilized to screen the impact of this policy decision?

OHR began to receive human rights complaint calls in December 2008.  Callers reported the disappearance and possible deportation of family members who had been pulled over for traffic violations or had been arrested during court appearances.  The Community and Police Relations Committee heard testimony on this issue in November 2009.  In February 2010, the HRC Director and AC Martinek met with Sheriff Staton to request data on foreign born individuals whose files were shared with ICE.  In May 2010 staff was informed that the Sheriff’s Office was conducting a time study to analyze 5 months of data.  To date, we have received no data to verify the impact of Secure Communities. 


  1. 7.      What evidence supports that the policy will further greater equality of opportunity?

This policy is not intended to further equality of opportunity.


  1. 8.      What evidence supports that the policy will improve community relations?

Community testimony and discussion at our Community and Police Relations Committee meetings indicates that closer collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE results in strained relations between immigrant communities and police. Secure Communities does not promote greater safety in these communities; rather, it exacerbates already existing fears of law enforcement.  Immigrant communities already underreport crimes.  Secure Communities is likely to result in greater victimization of immigrants and under-reporting of crimes.


  1. 9.     What data will you collect to monitor the effects of the policy/decision on groups identified in question 5?  How often will the data be reviewed?

We have requested data on individuals booked for traffic offenses and misdemeanors, % of foreign born, % placed on immigration holds, and length of immigration detainers.  We have not yet obtained this data.  Homeland Security reports data on deportations for the region.  Immigration advocates are tracking this data through requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.  These organizations openly share information with the HRC director.


  1. 10.   How does the policy/decision affect human rights?  Check all that apply.  


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Abbreviated Articles

Positive   Impact

Negative   Impact = human right violated or   restricted

Neutral   Impact

Article 1: Right to equality




Article 2: Freedom from   discrimination




Article 3: Right to life,   liberty and personal security




Article 4: Freedom from   slavery




Article 5: Freedom from   torture and degrading treatment




Article 6: Right to   recognition as a person before the law




Article 7: Right to equality   before the law




Article 8: Right to remedy   by competent tribunal




Article 9: Freedom from   arbitrary arrest and exile




Article 10: Right to fair   public hearing




Article 11: Right to be   considered innocent until proven guilty




Article 12: Freedom from   interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence




Article 13: Right to free   movement in and out of the country




Article 14: Right to asylum   in other countries from persecution




Article 15: Right to a   Nationality and the Freedom to change nationality




Article 16: Right to   marriage and/or right to a family




Article 17: Right to own   property




Article 19: Freedom of   opinion and information




Article 20: Right of   peaceful assembly and association




Article 21: Right to   participate in government and in free elections




Article 22: Right to social   security




Article 23: Right to   desirable work and to join trade unions




Article 24: Right to rest   and leisure




Article 25: Right to adequate   living standard




Article 26: Right to   education




Article 27: Right to   participate in the cultural life of community




Article 28: Right to a   social order that articulates this document




Article 29: Community duties   essential to free and full development




Article 30: Freedom from   state or personal interference in above rights






  1. 11.    Provide an explanation for the policy’s negative impact on human rights. 

Secure Communities Agreements result in violations of due process and disparate treatment for immigrants who do not have citizenship.  Open booking policies require police officers to transport individuals who are arrested for lower level offenses (traffic violations, driving without a license, failure to show proper identification) to the downtown booking facility.  Because the Sheriff has provided ICE agents with an interview area and unescorted access to the jail, ICE can more readily identify and place immigration holds on individuals who are detained regardless of whether they have been convicted of any crime.  The fingerprinting system inMultnomahCountyis operated by Portland Police.  Inasmuch as the police provide access to this data system, they are aiding in the identification, detention and deportation of immigrants who do not have citizenship but who may not have committed a crime.


  1. 12.    Summary of staff recommendations to Human Rights Commission.


  • Recommend that Multnomah County Sheriff refrain from entering into a Secure Communities Agreement with ICE on the grounds that this will strain fragile relationships with immigrant communities.
  • Recommend that Multnomah County Sheriff reconsider its agreement to allow ICE agents access to the central booking facility and unescorted access to the jail.
  • Request that the Portland Police and Sheriff issue clear communication to communities regarding the extent of local law enforcement’s collaboration with ICE.
  • Recommend training for Portland Police and Sheriffs to request alternative forms of identification to avoid booking individuals unable to provide Oregon IDs or driver’s licenses.
  • Recommend that Multnomah County Sheriff conduct a full review of the unintended negative impacts of the Open Booking Policy on immigrant communities and re-consider the policy.


Date of Policy Review: May 27, 2010

Submitted by: María Lisa Johnson, Director Human Rights Commission / Portland Office of Human Relations