What is the federal government doing to enforce immigration laws in Oregon?
Dale Hillman, the supervisory special agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Portland, oversees all of Oregon and Southwest Washington. He explains the work of the 39 agents assigned to this region.
Question: What is Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
Answer: Prior to Sept. 11, (2001,) INS agents dealt exclusively with people involved with immigration matters, and customs agents dealt with things and the people associated with those crimes: porn, drugs, contraband. INS reported to the Department of Justice, and Customs reported to the Department of Treasury. After the merger, we took on both responsibilities and now have one chain of command.
Q: Is ICE actively looking for illegal immigrants?
A: No. We have big-picture priorities.
Q: But haven’t illegal immigrants broken a federal law?
A: They have technically violated the law, but entry without inspection is an administrative matter.
Q: Do you investigate employers who hire illegal immigrants?
A: Yes, it is in our jurisdiction, but the sheer volume and number of aliens that have to be dealt with precludes these types of investigations. We’ve adopted temporary standards that have to do with critical infrastructure. What if everyone that manned the dam was an illegal alien? A tree farmer is not a real problem in that context.