John Hanlin

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin poses for a photo in his office in 2015.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said he endorsed a letter in support of a measure that would repeal Oregon’s 31-year-old sanctuary law as a matter of fundamental principle.

In an email to The News-Review Tuesday, Hanlin said “Creating sanctuary areas (hideouts) is an obstruction of justice. We should not create a sanctuary for illegal immigrants to flee to which provides them a greater opportunity to avoid complying with the law and the legal process.”

Hanlin said the concept of a sanctuary county or state is in direct conflict with the judicial system and his ability to provide fair and impartial law enforcement.

“By creating sanctuaries, the public’s safety is potentially compromised because those protected by the sanctuary status are exempted from complying with immigration laws, thereby weakening respect for and possibly encouraging disregard for other laws. Furthermore, we should not support sanctuary for one illegal class or activity if we aren’t willing to for everyone else,” Hanlin wrote.

Oregon’s sanctuary law, which was passed in 1987, made the state the first to enact restrictions on what local and state law enforcement agencies could do to assist federal immigration agents. As written, the law states no Oregon law enforcement agency will use public money or personnel to arrest people whose only crime is being in the country illegally.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement keep records of jurisdictions that have enacted policies which limit cooperation with ICE.

In a report from 2017, Douglas County is on the list because it “will not honor ICE detainer without court order or warrant.”

Jackson, Marion, Deschutes, Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties are also on the list.

If the measure, known as Measure 105, passes in November, Hanlin said he doesn’t see it having any effect on Douglas County.

When asked if the area has an issue with illegal immigrants taking refuge, Hanlin said there are plenty of opportunities for criminals to avoid apprehension by hiding in the county’s public lands.

He said Douglas County doesn’t have the same issues with illegal immigrants that other counties face, but added that there is always potential.

“For example, over the past several years we have experienced numerous large scale illegal marijuana growing operations that were controlled by and operated by illegal immigrants. The question isn’t whether Douglas County has the funding to enforce illegal immigration, that is not our mission, but rather allowing us the ability to work with our federal partners who do have the funding to enforce immigration laws,” Hanlin wrote.

Critics of the measure have said it will lead to racial profiling.

Hanlin said biased policing isn’t tolerated in the sheriff’s office and that deputies “serve and protect everyone fairly and impartially regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability, age, religion or socio-economic status.”

Saphara Harrell can be reached at 541-957-4216 or Or on Twitter


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Crime and Natural Resources Reporter

Saphara Harrell is the crime and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She previously worked at The World in Coos Bay. Follow her on Twitter @daisysaphara.

(3) comments


If "punished for their immigration status" means that they're immediately arrested for the CRIMINAL act of being in the U.S. ILLEGALLY...maybe they shouldn't be in this country in the first place.

Old Tobi

The "sanctuary" law has nothing to do with offering "hideouts" to undocumented residents. What it does is allow undocumented residents to report crimes when they are victims without fearing they'll be punished for their immigration status.

Architrave Health

This is simply not true. Perhaps the intent of the law, but not the case.

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