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Potential Repeal of Ore. Sanctuary Law Fuels Fear of Police Profiling

Renato Quintero, a janitor in Hillsboro, Ore., says he wants to get along with everyone. He's worried he could be stopped and questioned more often by police if Measure 105 passes. (SEIU Local 49)
Renato Quintero, a janitor in Hillsboro, Ore., says he wants to get along with everyone. He's worried he could be stopped and questioned more often by police if Measure 105 passes. (SEIU Local 49)
October 24, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. - Some people of color in Oregon are afraid racial profiling by police could become more frequent if a measure to repeal the state's sanctuary status passes in November.

Measure 105 would roll back a 31-year-old law that forbids the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law and was originally passed to crack down on racial profiling.

Renato Quintero, a janitor in Hillsboro and a permanent resident of Oregon for more than three decades, said je's already been stopped by police without reason and believes it will happen more often if Measure 105 passes.

"That happens if we are walking in the street, if we are driving," he said. "They always try to see what we are doing or who we are, and that is pretty uncomfortable."

The sanctuary law applies if a person's only infraction is being in the country illegally. Sheriffs in Oregon's three largest counties are opposing the measure. On the other side, 18 county sheriffs are supporting it, saying the sanctuary statute undermines respect for law in significant ways.

Melissa Garcia was born in Oregon and is a former medical assistant who now works as a labor partner with Service Employees International Union Local 49. She considers herself a Mexican-American and said police have racially profiled friends and family members in the past. Garcia said she thinks President Donald Trump has stoked fears on immigration, exacerbating the problem for people of color across the country.

"There's a lot of profiling going out there, and I believe it'll make it worse by voting 'yes' on 105," she said. "That's how come I feel strongly against it."

Proponents of the measure have said the state's sanctuary statute is leading to more crime. However, numerous studies show that immigrants commit crimes at the same rate or lower than people born in the United States. Quintero said he believes this measure is feeding off stereotypes about immigrants, but added that, overall, he's led a good life as an Oregon resident.

"I would like to continue living in peace and getting along with everybody," he said.

Opponents also worry that the measure could lead to fewer immigrants reporting crimes. Ballots are due by Nov. 6.

Information about Measure 105 is online at oregonvotes.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR