Measure 105 is part of a national wave of pro-border proposals emanating from the political right in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s election. And it’s one of the first serious challenges to Oregon’s unique and influential 31-year-old “sanctuary state” law.
The measure would repeal the state law forbidding state resources — including local law enforcement dollars — from being used to enforce federal immigration law.
Deschutes County has a sheriff who supports it and a district attorney who opposes it.
Last week, the first “No on 105” television ad started airing across the state. The 30-second spot features Deschutes District Attorney John Hummel saying the passage of Measure 105 would make his job harder.
“To convict someone of a crime, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that requires reliable witnesses,” he says in the ad. “105 could force local police to be immigration agents and make more Oregonians afraid to report crimes or testify as witnesses. Even crime victims won’t talk to prosecutors, leaving us in the dark and our neighborhoods less safe.”
Oregon’s sanctuary law passed with little fanfare in the Oregon Legislature in 1987 by near-unanimous margins in both houses. The aim was to keep local resources from being used to enforce federal laws when it wasn’t necessary. The immigration debate has changed in 30 years, especially in the aftermath of the 2016 election of Trump, whose rhetoric over illegal immigration and a border wall between the United States and Mexico motivated conservative voters to turn out.
In addition to discouraging those in the country illegally from reporting crimes, opponents say Measure 105 would lead to profiling and the deportation of children and the separation of families.
Opponents include the American Civil Liberties Union, businesses including Columbia Sportswear and Nike, and several Portland-area sheriffs and district attorneys.
Supporters argue Oregon’s sanctuary law encourages criminality. They say immigrants here illegally harm American citizens in greater numbers than do U.S. citizens, and are an economic drain on the country.
Eighteen of 36 Oregon sheriffs are on record supporting the measure, as is Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler.
“I do understand the emotion behind this topic and the concern it will cause some to not report crimes to local law enforcement,” Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson wrote in a statement to The Bulletin. “I have not been presented any information that shows this has occurred, but I will say that I truly believe the rules are the rules and everyone should abide by them.”
He said as sheriff, he’s not interested in a person’s immigration status until they come to jail as an inmate.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said his office has contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement with offers to help as much as possible under the law, including sharing by his jail roster.
Adkins said despite what Hummel says, living illegally in the U.S. encourages “illegals” to live outside the law.
“We as citizens are expected to abide by all the laws,” he said. “I think being a sanctuary state, it just encourages the illegals to hide what they’re doing.”
He said Measure 105 would help make things “equal across the board.”
“I’ve heard arguments that it’s maybe going to lead to profiling by police,” he said. “We’re not just talking about Mexicans. We’re talking about … Russians and, you know, people from across the board. It doesn’t just have to do with people from south of the border.”
Across Oregon, general election ballots were mailed out Wednesday to voters. They have until Nov. 6 to fill out and turn them in.
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