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Opponents: Repealing Sanctuary Status Opens Ore. to 'More Racial Profiling'

Oregon's sanctuary laws were passed more than 30 years ago. (maginnis/Twenty20)
Oregon's sanctuary laws were passed more than 30 years ago. (maginnis/Twenty20)
July 19, 2018

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon's status as a sanctuary for immigrants will go before voters this November. If the laws are repealed, local and state law-enforcement agencies could work more closely with the federal government on enforcing immigration law.

Andrea Williams is executive director of the immigrant rights group Causa and chair of the recently formed Oregonians United Against Profiling, which is opposing the measure. She said these laws were passed more than three decades ago because of cases where people were perceived to be undocumented.

Her new group has the backing of businesses such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear.

"It's a broad coalition of business, labor, faith, civil rights groups and law-enforcement leaders who are coming together because we believe getting rid of this law opens the door to serious civil rights violations and potentially more racial profiling of Oregonians,” Williams said.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the main backer of this measure, says it will better protect Oregonians from people in the country illegally.

Williams notes the current laws don't prevent local enforcement from working with federal immigration officials when someone commits a crime. But, she said, ending Oregon's sanctuary status could turn local law enforcement into another arm of Trump's deportation force.

"Immigrants, including those who may be undocumented, shouldn't have to live in fear that doing basic things like going to school or work or reporting a crime to the police could result in harassment or their families being torn apart" she said.

Williams added that immigrants in Oregon are part of a long tradition of people coming to this country in search of a better life.

"It's really critical that Oregon remains a state where we are a beacon of hope and freedom for people from all over the world,” she said. “And protecting this law is a really critical part of that."

Three Republican state representatives sponsored the measure in its signature-gathering phase.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR