Recent immigration enforcement actions by the Trump administration are creating a culture of distrust and could strangle Oregon's economy, Gov. Kate Brown told Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Sunday.
Brown, a Democrat, met with the Republican administration's top immigration enforcement official one-on-one during an annual National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C.
Brown said she is particularly worried about a chilling effect the presence of Immigration and Custom Enforcement Officers in county courthouses may have on residents.
"I'm concerned some actions of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers are creating an atmosphere of fear," said Brown in a statement. "Today I shared with Secretary Kelly that the trust in public institutions is undermined when Oregonians seek assistance from public officials, but are instead met with suspicion from those they expect to help them."
What's more, she said, that fear puts Oregon's economy at risk because of its reliance on immigration policies like the H1-B visa program, which allows companies to hire foreign workers with specialized skills.
The same day Brown met with Kelly, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, also a Democrat, said the Secretary of Homeland Security assured him that immigration agents are not conducting random raids and will not target undocumented residents unless they are suspected of being involved in illegal activity.
Trump's priorities for deportation issued earlier this year also include undocumented immigrants who are charged but not convicted of a crime, abuse public benefits or are considered "a risk to public safety or national security" by an immigration officer.
The discussions between governors and Kelly came after Trump on Thursday said the deportation effort was a "military operation." Hours later, Kelly told reporters the US will not use its military to enforce immigration laws, and that there will be "no mass deportations."
According to a statement from Brown's office, her conversation with Kelly also touched on Oregon's efforts to comply with the federal Real ID Act, which requires to state to upgrade drivers licenses to meet security guidelines.
In addition, they talked about Oregon's earthquake preparation efforts and possible reduction of federal emergency aid funds.
In December, Oregon was left off an early list of 50 infrastructure priorities to receive funding from the Trump administration.
Earlier this month, Brown issued an executive order strengthening the state's sanctuary status and asked the Attorney General to sue the White House over Trump's executive order banning most travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
-- Anna Marum
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