A community forum June 29 is intended to calm fears among Jackson County's immigrant community that may prevent people from reporting crimes and cooperating with police. This is not about defying federal law. It's about public safety.
Oregon state law says law enforcement may not detain anyone solely on suspicion of being in the country without immigration documents.
This doesn't mean local police won't cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement if ICE agents have a valid arrest warrant signed by a judge. What it does mean is that individuals who need police protection should feel free to ask for it, and to help police investigate crimes without fear that they will be jailed and possibly deported for speaking up.
If witnesses to crimes won't testify or even talk to police, crimes can't be successfully prosecuted. And criminals will be emboldened to target undocumented immigrants if they think those victims won't report it.
No matter what happens at the national level to fix the immigration system, it is unlikely to involve mass deportations, because rounding up an estimated 12 million people would be a practical impossibility. So keeping them safe falls to local police, whose job it is to keep everyone safe. A crime that victimizes an immigrant affects the wider community as well.
The forum will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.Thursday in the Medford library, 205 S. Central Ave. Representatives of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office and Jackson County Circuit Court will be there.