A broad coalition of more than 80 business, labor, faith, civil rights groups, and law enforcement leaders have formed a campaign to defeat the attempt to get rid of Oregon’s “sanctuary” law or initiative petition 22 (IP 22), should it qualify for the November ballot.
If IP 22 does qualify, Oregonians United Against Profiling is prepared to mount an aggressive statewide campaign to defeat the measure. Backers of the repeal reported they turned in 110,000 signatures to the Secretary of State, which will now be counted and verified.
Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa Oregon and a founder of the new coalition, said she worries that Oregon could become a “show me your papers” state if the law is thrown out.
“Oregon’s existing ‘sanctuary’ law has been protecting Oregonians from unfair racial profiling for more than 30 years,” Williams said. “No Oregonian, including those who may be undocumented immigrants, should have to live in fear that doing basic things like going to work or school or reporting a crime to police could result in harassment or their families being torn apart.”
Retired Hillsboro police chief Ron Louie said the law has helped increase trust in law enforcement, which is critical for officers who rely on community members to come to them when they are victims or witnesses of crimes.
“Our Oregon law provides clear guidance to local law enforcement officers on how to handle complicated immigration issues,” Louie said. “It creates a bright line that says local police should be focused on solving local problems.”
The 31-year-old “sanctuary” law clarifies and distinguishes between the roles of local and federal law enforcement related to immigration and states that Oregon police personnel, funding, equipment, and facilities cannot be used for activities that are the responsibility of federal immigration agents. The law was passed in 1987 with the near unanimous support of state Republicans and Democrats to address widespread profiling of those perceived to be undocumented immigrants and to keep local police resources focused on enforcing local laws.
Civil rights leader and long-time resident of Woodburn Ramon Ramirez said he remembers what Oregon was like without the law.
“Before Oregon had this law, I saw immigration agents, aided by local police, busting down doors and grabbing people off the street, with no way of knowing their immigration status,” Ramirez said. “My friends and neighbors, including U.S. citizens, were being harassed by local police demanding to see their papers. Passing this law made things a lot better. Throwing it out would turn back the clock and open the door to more profiling.”
IP 22 is backed by Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) and the national group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Both groups have been designated “extremist hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Groups backing Oregonians United Against Profiling include Oregon business leaders Nike, Columbia Sportswear, the Timbers and Thorns, and the Portland Business Alliance; civil rights and immigrant rights groups Causa Oregon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon (ACLU of Oregon), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Immigration Law Center; and unions including Oregon Education Association (OEA), SEIU, AFL-CIO, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United (PCUN).
The campaign website is at ORUnited.org.