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Ore. Law Enforcement Picking Sides on Sanctuary Repeal Measure

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Oregon sheriffs disagree about how the state's sanctuary law effects crime. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons)
Oregon sheriffs disagree about how the state's sanctuary law effects crime. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR - Producer, Contact
September 10, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Tensions are building among law enforcement in the fight over Oregon's sanctuary law, which voters could decide to repeal in November.

Recently, 16 county sheriffs announced support for Measure 105, which would get rid of the state's 31-year-old statute that prohibits use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law.

In his statement, Clatsop County Sheriff Thomas Bergin says failing to enforce immigration laws legitimizes more law breaking.

Ore. state Sen. James Manning, a former police officer, disagrees. The Junction City Democrat maintains the sheriffs are politicizing this issue and says repealing the state's sanctuary law actually could lead to more crime.

"We're talking about communities of people that will be less likely to report crimes,” he states. “Victimization will be increased as people, again, (are) not willing to report crimes, and people will be taking advantage of that."

Sheriffs in Multnomah and Washington counties oppose the measure. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson signed the letter supporting repeal of the state's sanctuary law, but the county's district attorney, John Hummel, has come out in opposition.

The sheriffs supporting Measure 105 represent nearly half of Oregon's counties, but less than 20 percent of the state's population.

Manning says the Trump administration's push to punish undocumented immigrants, and even counties and states with sanctuary laws, is affecting Oregon's politics. He's dismayed that a law that's been on the books for 31 years is causing so much controversy.

"I am very disheartened to know this, and not only that, we've moved to a place where we're in a sad state of mind," he states.

Manning notes Oregon's sanctuary law bars the use of state and local resources for arresting people wanted only for immigration violations. Law enforcement still is able to arrest people who commit other crimes.

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