Oregon Sheriffs Endorse Ballot Measure to Repeal Sanctuary Law
By Shari Rendall | September 14, 2018
Sixteen of Oregon’s 36 elected county sheriffs signed an open letter “Restore Respect For Law: Repeal Oregon’s Illegal-Immigrant Sanctuary Statute.” Released on August 27, the letter supports Measure 105, which, if approved by the voters in November, would repeal Oregon’s first in the nation, 1987 sanctuary law (ORS 181A.820).
Measure 105, formerly Initiative Petition (IP) 22, received 96,700 validated signatures from registered Oregon voters and qualified for the November 2018 ballot on July 17.
Clatsop County Sheriff Thomas Bergin describes the sanctuary law as “undermin[ing] respect for law in significant ways” and explains that it “works to keep law enforcement from pursuing many of the people who commit” crimes in Oregon, for which “innocent Oregonians … pay the price.” Invoking the memories of Mollie Tibbetts and Ronald Da Silva, both allegedly murdered by illegal aliens, he says the law compounds the federal government’s neglect in keeping illegal aliens out, serving as “a de facto invitation” for them.
He also takes particular care to rebut two baseless open-borders narratives frequently used in support of sanctuary laws: first, that ignoring immigration law leads to illegal aliens cooperating with local police to solve crimes; and second, that anti-sanctuary policies are driven by and “would unleash a wave of” racism and racial profiling. Both he dismisses as “nonsensical,” unsupported by any experience in the real world, and indeed often based on hostility toward law enforcement in general.
In addition to Bergin, the letter is signed by sheriffs representing Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union and Wheeler Counties. And since then, they’ve continued to be forthright in their public support for the sanctuary repeal. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said he signed on because he’s “worried about are those who are here illegally and who commit local crimes” and “[i]f we can’t use every tool available to us … we’re just swimming up stream all the time”, while Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson added that he feels the sanctuary law “is in direct conflict with federal law [and] just think[s] the rules are the rules.”
Unsurprisingly, sanctuary supporters immediately condemned the letter on exactly the grounds that Bergin predicted. Erin McKee of the Oregon Justice Resource Center calling it “tired, fear-mongering rhetoric that misleads the public on how the law works” and “nothing short of open hostility towards communities of color, immigrants, and non-citizens[.]” And multiple press outlets took pains to highlight opposition from other law enforcement officials, such as Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, Washington County Sheriff Patrick Garrett and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.
If Ballot Measure 105 passes in November, Oregon will have the distinction of being the first state in the Nation to enact a sanctuary law and the first in the Nation to repeal one.