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Our office is at 1131 SE Oak, Portland, OR 97214

Map to our office

(503) 233-6787


Martin Luther King Jr. Worker Center is at 240 NE MLK Jr. Blvd., 97232

Map to Martin Luther King Jr. Worker Center


Voz and ACT Network Victorious in New ICE Holds Ruling

On April 16, 2014, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton joined other sheriffs from Clackamas and Washington countries by announcing that they would no longer comply with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s requests to keep undocumented immigrants in jail for deportation.  This came after a U.S. Districts Court judge ruled that Clackamas County had violated a woman’s Fourth Amendment rights by keeping her jail longer than her two day sentence.  As a result of the decision of Sheriff Staton, other counties in Oregon have followed.

Immigration detainer or ICE holds are a routine request from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the Oregon sheriffs detain a person beyond the time the person would otherwise be released. As a result of these holds, hundreds of families were torn apart, immigrants were afraid to report crime minimizing community safety, and tax payers were subjugated to paying $168 per night for each inmate in jail. According to the Oregonian, from January 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012, ICE’s policies resulted in 1,465 holds in Multnomah County, all of which was due to sheriffs like Staton believing that ICE holds were mandatory when in fact they are not.

All of this changed on April 11, 2014, when Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart, U.S. Districts Court for the District of Oregon ruled that Clackamas County was liable for violating Maria Miranda-Olivares Constitutional rights. Ms. Miranda-Olivares filed her lawsuit in March 2012 after being unlawfully held in jail for two weeks. David Henretty, a former Voz Executive Board member and the attorney representing Maria stated that, “This case makes clear that if a county decides to hold a person beyond lawful custody on the charges, that extended incarceration must satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The presence of a request from ICE to prolong the incarceration does not overcome this fundamental right.” Ms. Miranda-Olivares now awaits a trial to determine the amount of her damages.

Despite the influential court case, much of why Sheriff Staton changed his policy on ICE holds was thanks to Voz and their partner, Activists Coming Together for Justice and Dignity (the ACT Network) who have been working diligently over the past two years to put a stop to the unlawful holdings. Voz and the ACT Network have pressured Sheriff Staton to change his policies through the use of rallies, letter writing, and community forums that showcased the stories of brave undocumented community members impacted by ICE holds.

This ruling was the tipping point  after years of pressure and awareness by the ACT Network. As a result sheriffs across Oregon stepped up to put a stop to ICE holds stating they would no longer comply with ICE requests. Immediately following Sheriff Staton’s decision 50 immigration holds were lifted for jail inmates in the Portland area and is expected to affect hundreds of Multnomah County inmates within the next year. Given Sheriff Staton’s new policies, families will no longer have to fear being torn apart, communities will be safer, and tax payer’s money can go to more productive community activities.

April 5: National Day of Action Against Deportations!

Voz is joining the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other organizations across the country as we say: Two Million Too Many! #Not1More! Stop the Deportations!

What: Community Teach-in Against Deportations

When: Saturday, April 5th at 1:00pm

Where: St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 8623 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97266

Here’s the link to the Facebook event:

Flyer for April 5 event

Hear testimonies of experiences with the deportation system. Learn about ICE holds, private prisons, local struggles to stop individual deportations; and the power of the President to stop deportations NOW.

In the next few days the Obama administration, unless it reverses course, will have deported more than 2 million of our parents and loved ones, hard workers, and people who call the US home.

We say #Not1More! In 2013, 500 organizations, 30 Congresspeople and more than 15 direct actions that Shut Down ICE facilities across the country called on the President to halt deportations and stop the needless suffering.

2014 needs to see real action, we won’t let “Yes We Can” be answered with “No, I Can’t.” The President has the power in the stroke of a pen and it’s time for him to use it.

Day Laborers´ Day of Service in East Portland

By Absa Echeverria

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

To answer this question, every year on the third Monday of January, thousands of people come together throughout the United States to serve their communities and honor the memory of this great social leader.

Promptly and with enthusiasm, workers from the MLK Worker Center responded to this call and along with VOZ activists, participated in a day of service by cleaning up the streets on January 20th.

Clean-up activities consisted of sweeping and picking up trash on several East Portland Center streets, approximately nine blocks. Workers and volunteers started at the Convention Center, worked their way down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, home to the Workers Center, and spread out to clean Morrison Street and surrounding areas including the corners in which day laborers find work.

Francisco Aguirre, an employee of VOZ and coordinator of the Worker Center, is responsible for organizing the MLK Day activity and describes the importance of Martin Luther King to the center. “Our day laborer center bears his name and for this reason on the third Monday of January, doing activities like this, commemorate the memory of this great man who fought for human rights.”

On the importance of VOZ and the Day Laborers Center doing these activities, Aguirre said, “It is important that the residents of Portland know that day laborers are a part of this community and are interested in helping to maintain the cleanliness of this city. We want our neighbors and employers in this community to realize that day laborers are an important part of the changes that contribute to the development of this city.”

Paul Riek, another VOZ representative, who collaborated with day laborers for this event explained how through the use of Facebook and emails, it all came together.  Riek said that by utilizing these resources the activity recruited 18 day laborers and volunteers.

Days earlier, Riek met with a group of local businesses to discuss the purpose of this activity, where it would take place, and how it would benefit these businesses, as many of them are located in the neighborhood.  Riek commented, “By the end of the meeting, businesses were motivated by the idea and willing to work with us. They offered to help us by donating bags and other cleaning tools. One of them donated a dumpster for the all the trash we collected.”

Referring to the clean-up done by the day laborers, Riek emphasized the importance of this date for VOZ and the workers. “We usually clean the neighborhood several times a year. However, this day is very special for us as we choose this date to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.” Riek added, “We deeply believe in the vision of Dr. King and his example of the struggle for social justice and equal rights.  VOZ and the day laborers are currently in their own struggle of having a permanent, safe place to meet and that their rights are respected and they are treated fairly.” Riek concluded that this activity has demonstrated to the Portland community that day laborers, apart from seeking employment, also know how to give back as they did during this activity.

In this sense, Aguirre discussed the importance of these activities over the years. “It’s very interesting because with each passing year our support grows, from day laborers, entrepreneurs, and traders.”

As to whether there has been a change in the perception of entrepreneurs about day laborers after this activity, Aguirre tells us, “I think this activity has helped us. This was an opportunity for them to see us in a favorable light and that there are benefits of having day laborers in the neighborhood.”

This joint community service project brought together day laborers, volunteers, and VOZ activists to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., not only to honor his memory, but also to do their part and clean the streets of the community to which they belong.