Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin is one of 16 sheriffs in the state to voice support for a ballot measure that would repeal Oregon’s sanctuary law.
Measure 105 aims to repeal a 31-year-old Oregon law that forbids state agencies from using state resources or personnel to detect or apprehend people whose only crime is being in the country illegally.
Sheriffs from Gilliam, Harney, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Malheur, Curry, Coos, Klamath, Union, Grant, Lake, Wheeler, Deschutes and Douglas counties endorsed the letter penned by Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin.
The combined populations of the counties represented are slightly larger than that of Portland’s.
“The statute undermines respect for the law in significant ways. It tells illegal immigrants that Oregon considers immigration-law violations so inconsequential as to be unworthy of police and sheriffs’ attention. In doing so, it legitimizes those violations and encourages more,” Bergin wrote.
The letter also referenced Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student that was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant living in Iowa. Her death became politicized and reignited the debate over immigration policy.
Mollie Tibbets’ father, Rob Tibbetts, has not publicly commented on the issue, but in his eulogy, he highlighted how the local Hispanic community had embraced him as he searched for his daughter in recent weeks, reported the Des Moines Register.
“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said, including an emphasis on family. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food,” the paper reported.
Bergin wrote that Tibbetts’ murder “has refocused our attention on the violence and heartbreak illegal-immigrant criminals can visit on Americans and their families.”
Bergin also contested the assertion by opponents of the measure that its passing would promote racial profiling.
Measure 105 made the November ballot last month and is primarily funded through the Repeal Oregon Sanctuary Law Committee, which has raised more than $330,000.
Also backing the measure is a group called Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In July, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions inferred that groups like the SPLC use hate group designations to bully and intimidate conservative groups.
The lead opposition group against Measure 105, called Oregonians United Against Profiling, has been endorsed by several large businesses and organizations like Nike, Columbia Sportswear Company and the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the organization’s website.
Multiple sheriffs and district attorneys have also come out against the measure, including the Multnomah County sheriff and district attorney, Washington County’s sheriff and district attorney, the Benton County district attorney, the Deschutes County district attorney and the Columbia County district attorney.
Hanlin, and Brad O’Dell, the sheriff’s spokesman, were not immediately available for comment.
In January, Hanlin spoke to county commissioners after President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive orders on immigration, which called for 10,000 new immigration enforcement officers, increased deportations and punishment for sanctuary cities by withholding federal grants.
At that time, Hanlin said the president’s order wouldn’t create any immediate local policy changes, since the president’s order only binds federal agencies.
In 2014, a measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants in Oregon to acquire driver’s licenses was rejected by voters, with 66 percent voting against it.