Multnomah County passes 'sanctuary' ordinance - KPTV - FOX 12

Multnomah County passes 'sanctuary' ordinance

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Multnomah County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday for an ordinance making Multnomah a “sanctuary” county. (KPTV) Multnomah County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday for an ordinance making Multnomah a “sanctuary” county. (KPTV)

Multnomah County leaders made a big change they say was prompted by the outcome of the presidential election.

Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance to make the county a "sanctuary" Thursday.

County leaders said while this is largely a symbolic proposal it could mean the county could face some repercussions from the incoming Donald Trump administration, possibly financial ones.

Several concerned citizens and those who represent immigrants came to speak before commissioners to urge them to pass the designation Thursday morning.

Commissioner Loretta Smith, who helped propose the ordinance, said the measure means Multnomah County would not turn anyone away from county services or programs and also will not be reporting undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

Before the meeting, Smith told FOX 12 that the county has actually seen a dip in people using services and programs since Trump was elected.

Smith believes the decline is directly related to his upcoming presidency and says she hopes the sanctuary designation will assure all residents that they are safe and welcome, adding that any blow-back from the new administration will be worth it.

"I'm sure there are going to be repercussions, and I am prepared to stand up with the people of Multnomah County, and to look them in the eye and say, 'You can come and use our services. You live in this county, you need our services and we are here for you,’” she said.

Smith says she and other county leaders are paying close attention to whether some of those repercussions could include cuts to federal aid dollars.

Romeo Sosa with the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition came to the meeting Thursday to speak and says there's a lot of uncertainty and fear among immigrants in the metro area.

"Some people are scared about his plan, but it's also an opportunity for us to organize and really be prepared, and I know the population that I work with, they're the targets basically for his plan," he said. "And this opportunity today that they are going to declare Multnomah County as a sanctuary, that means a lot to us."

The county wants to make it clear that it will not be actively hiding immigrants from deportation if the ordinance passes and that this sanctuary designation would take effect immediately.

The city of Portland made a similar sanctuary designation earlier this year., as did other cities including Corvallis.

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