Oregon has had a statewide illegal-alien-sanctuary law on its books since 1987, apparently the first such law in the country.
There are several gradations of perniciousness among sanctuary laws, and Oregon's is the worst kind: If an Oregon cop sees someone whom he knows has previously been deported sauntering down the street, the officer can be confident that he's spotted an illegal alien who's returned in violation of 8 U.S. Code, Section 1326, Reentry of Removed Aliens. But the 1987 law, Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, makes the cop powerless to arrest the perp for that federal felony. Instead, Oregon law enforcement must wait until the illegal alien commits some other crime before accosting him.
And that's the key point, as Heather Mac Donald explained in her 2004 City Journal classic, The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave:
Trying to build a homicide case, say, against an illegal gang member is often futile ... since witnesses fear deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Enforcing an immigration violation would allow the cops to lock up the murderer right now, without putting a witness’s life at risk.
Several years ago, the patriots of Oregonians for Immigration Reform [OFIR], knowing that their state legislature is a place where sane immigration policies go to die, resolved to attempt repeal of Statute 181A.820 by citizens' initiative. OFIR's heroic efforts—described here and here—to qualify their repeal legislation for the November 6th general election triumphed in July. Since then, they've been enmeshed in the second part of this gargantuan, uphill battle: convince Oregon's voters to approve the resulting Measure 105, the Repeal Sanctuary Law Initiative.
Why "gargantuan, uphill"? Because, as OFIR president Cynthia Kendoll told me in a phone interview, the open-borders forces have more than $4 million available for sob-story TV commercials and billboards to spread their distortions and lies about Measure 105. Meanwhile, OFIR's shoestring Stop Oregon Sanctuaries campaign has had less than $400,000. (More pertinently, Ballotpedia's financial figures, current through October 9, 2018, show the pro-repeal campaign to have about $10,000 still available, while the opponents have left about $3.6 million.)
Nevertheless, daunting as those numbers are, in 2014 OFIR had triumphed against similar 10:1 financial odds when their citizens' veto referendum quashed a legislature-passed bill that would have made Oregon driver's licenses available to illegal aliens. Their 2:1 win demonstrated, once again, that when given the chance to actually vote on it, Americans vehemently express their disdain for illegal immigration. (They're not all that fond of legal immigration, either.)
On the other other hand, the open-borders forces are "woke" this time, unlike in 2014.
I urge Oregonians, in November, to vote "Yes" on Ballot Measure 105 and repeal the State's illegal-immigrant sanctuary statute.
The statute undermines respect for law in significant ways. It tells illegal immigrants that Oregon considers immigration-law violations so inconsequential as to be unworthy of police and sheriffs' attention. As well, the statute invites the contempt of U.S. citizens and legal residents, whom Oregon expects to abide by all laws.
Certainly, immigration-law violations are federal offenses. But they are precursors to other crimes illegal immigrants routinely commit in their efforts to conceal their illegal presence—crimes, like identity theft, that harm everyday Oregonians at the local level.
Such crimes are well within local police and sheriffs' purview. But Oregon's "hands-off" sanctuary statute works to keep law enforcement from pursuing many of the people who commit them—for the very reason that they are here illegally, and innocent Oregonians pay the price.
Sheriff Bergin's letter also appeared as a solo-author op-ed in the Portland Tribune on September 20.
And in August, the Western States Sheriffs' Association [WSSA], representing sheriffs in 16 states west of the Mississippi, had issued its endorsement of the Measure 105 repeal effort, focusing on the Oregon sanctuary statute's violation of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI). Sheriff Bergin is the representative for Oregon on the WSSA, so we can guess that he's a one-man posse for immigration in the national interest.
In contrast, two sheriffs from the Portland metro area—Mike Reese of Multnomah County and Pat Garrett of Washington County—have signed on as opponents of Measure 105. As OFIR's Cynthia Kendoll explained to me, the Portland metro area (population 2.4 million) and the rest of Oregon (1.7 million) might as well be in separate universes.
To energize their troops for the home-stretch push to Stop Oregon Sanctuaries, OFIR will hold its last public meeting before the election in Salem at 2 p.m. om Saturday, October 20, at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn. Headliners for the event include state Representative Greg Barreto, who was one of the three Chief Petitioners for the signature-gathering phase that earned Measure 105's place on the ballot, and Barreto's wife Chris, who is vice-chair of the state Republican Party.
[Updated to correct date of public meeting.]