Oregon retains its unique sanctuary law after voters on Tuesday emphatically rejected a statewide measure to repeal it. The law was targeted for elimination in a campaign financed and supported by anti-immigrant hate groups.
With 1.75 million votes tallied today, those opposing repeal of the sanctuary law were at 63.3 percent while those in favor of its repeal were at 36.7 percent.
The vote total is a resounding defeat for anti-immigrant hate groups the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), both chief supporters of the measure.
FAIR and its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — with a strong headwind provided by President Trump’s hardline anti-immigration policies — have been behind various anti-immigrant and anti-sanctuary campaigns throughout the United States.
Oregon’s unique 31-year-old sanctuary law was their bull’s-eye.
In August, FAIR and its legal operation contributed more than $150,000 in support of the measure to eradicate Oregon’s decades-old law. Then, late last month, FAIR contributed another $44,945, state election records show.
The state law, which remains intact, forbids state and local law enforcement in Oregon from using public resources to find or detain undocumented immigrants not suspected of a crime.
Oregonians for Immigration Reform, formed in 2000 with headquarters in McMinnville, Oregon, secured enough voter signatures to put Measure 105 on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Oregon anti-immigrant organization came into existence as part of a larger, national anti-immigrant movement in the United States founded by white nationalist John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist-turned-population-control-alarmist. Tanton once wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
OFIR, the most prominent anti-immigrant group in Oregon, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its ties to border vigilantes, including one who has referred to immigrants as the “Mexican Klan” and “Mexican Nazis.”
If the measure had passed repealing the 1987 state law, Andrea Williams of the immigrant rights organization Causa Oregon said, state and local police in Oregon would have been free to racially profile people on the streets, demanding documentation of legal status from anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally.
Oregon’s law enforcement community appeared divided on the ballot measure.
Half of the state’s 36 elected sheriffs supported the initiative, while the other half opposed repeal of the law, The Appeal reported late last month.
One of the measure’s chief supporters was Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, who has a history of anti-immigrant advocacy and has been an active member of the far-right, antigovernment Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).
While the proposal was defeated, the vice president of OFIR, state Rep. Mike Nearman, was re-elected to the Oregon state legislature. Nearman, a Polk County Republican, was one of three state legislators who spearheaded the anti-sanctuary initiative.
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