The U.S. Department of Justice demanded Wednesday that Oregon explain its sanctuary laws, or risk losing federal dollars.
In a letter that was also sent to 28 other so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions," acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson asked the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to account for policies that the U.S. DOJ believes may violate rules tied to federal funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.
The move is the most recent indication that the White House intends to follow through on President Donald Trump's threats to cut funding for sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
For fiscal year 2016, Oregon got $2,080,047 from the grant program—and when it accepted the money it agreed to follow a set of rules laid out by the DOJ.
Hanson's letter suggests that two statewide policies might violate one of those rules, section 1373 of Title 8 of the US Code, which "promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement."
Newly passed HB 3464 prohibits local officials from sharing address and contact information with the feds to aid immigration-related investigations and allows local jurisdictions to further restrict cooperation with immigration agents. And a longtime state law, ORS 181A.820 bars the use of any local or state resources to enforce federal immigration laws.
Hanson writes that the letter is not a "final determination regarding Oregon's compliance with section 1373" and gives the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission until December 5 to offer an interpretation of HB 3464 and ORS 181A.820 that follows the DOJ's rules.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission was not immediately available to comment on the letter.
Oregon has been in a months-long battle with the Trump Administration over its sanctuary status, which has been baked into the state's laws since 1987. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Portland in September to denounce the state's immigration policies in a speech littered with misleading statistics and dubious claims.
Despite the pressure, local officials have defiantly condemned Trump's immigration priorities.