Protesters speak during a June 17 vigil at the Washington County Courthouse. The group is showing displeasure over the presence of federal immigration officers at the county facilities. (Courtesy Lisa Stiller)
Protesters speak during a June 17 vigil at the Washington County Courthouse. The group is showing displeasure over the presence of federal immigration officers at the county facilities. (Courtesy Lisa Stiller)
HILLSBORO — About 40 people gathered June 17 to protest what they call the harassment of immigrant families by federal immigration agents at the Washington County Courthouse here. It was part of a demonstration at courthouses statewide.

The Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice organized the Hillsboro action, following the theme “Welcoming the Stranger.”

“Our faith tradition impels us to welcome the stranger, recognizing that we are all God’s children,” said Lisa Stiller, a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton who attended.

The vigil, which was peaceful, included prayers, songs, stories of people impacted in Oregon and at the U.S. Border, and a walk circumnavigating the courthouse.

Members of Holy Trinity, plus St. Pius X Parish in Northwest Portland and Spirit of Grace Catholic-Lutheran community in Beaverton, planned the vigil, which drew parishioners from St. Juan Diego, St. Alexander, and other Washington County congregations.

John Grosvenor of Spirit of Grace and the Rev. Jorge Rodriguez of Las Naciones United Methodist played guitar and led inspirational songs.

“Our migrant sisters and brothers are so grateful for the welcome and small things given them but we are the ones who are so blessed to be able to open our hearts and our church doors to them,” said Eileen Sleva of Holy Trinity.

Chris Kondrat, a member of St. Pius X, said she was moved by the reflection of a volunteer who served at a migrant refuge in El Paso, Texas.

As protesters circled the courthouse, they chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here.” Some carried signs saying “Loving our neighbor,” “Welcoming the Stranger,” or “Keep ICE out of our courthouses.”

Rev. Ron Werner of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice described hopes for bills in the Oregon Legislature, especially legislation that would grant a driver's license to those who can pass the driver’s test, regardless of residency status. The Welcoming Refugees Bill — HB 2508 — would provide additional state funds to organizations such as Catholic Charities to provide case management for refugee resettlement.

Stiller said the vigil was motivated by the appearance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the Hillsboro courthouse.

“It is a contradiction to Oregon’s sanctuary status to have the continued presence of ICE agents at county courthouses,” she said.

This fall, Oregon voters affirmed that local law enforcement shouldn’t help enforce federal immigration policy.

Last year, members of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice joined a march from Sheridan to The Dalles to register opposition at immigration detention centers in the two distant cities. Not long after, 123 asylum seekers were released from Sheridan’s Federal Correctional Institution.