In this 2017 file photo, two ICE detainees sit on top of a metal table watching television at NORCOR.

In this 2017 file photo, two ICE detainees sit on top of a metal table watching television at NORCOR.

Conrad Wilson/OPB

A judge will hear arguments Thursday in The Dalles that could make changes to Oregon’s so-called sanctuary state law.

In November, Oregon voters upheld the state’s 31-year-old sanctuary law. It prohibits state and local resources from being used to enforce federal immigration law if a person’s only crime is being in the country unlawfully.

NORCOR, the regional jail in The Dalles that serves Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, and Gilliam counties is the last facility in the state to house detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A group of Wasco County residents are suing the jail, arguing that because NORCOR houses ICE detainees, state resources are being used to enforce federal immigration laws.

They say that means NORCOR is violating Oregon’s sanctuary law. But NORCOR argues they’re only housing detainees – not detecting and apprehending them – which are specific actions prohibited in Oregon.

The jail’s contract with ICE brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars and is critical to the jail’s budget and operations.

The judge’s ruling in the case could bring clarity to the sanctuary law, which has never been meaningfully interpreted by the courts.