Legislators look to repeal Oregon’s “sanctuary” statute, enforce illegal immigration

Medford, Ore. — Oregon is considered a sanctuary state. That means police are not allowed to arrest immigrants if their only violation is being in the country illegally. Now, a local legislator is looking to change that. He’s backing a measure to repeal a 1980’s statute, and give law enforcement the authority to enforce federal immigration law.

“It is against the law to harbor those people and yet we still do that,” Rep. Sal Esquivel tells NBC5 News.

State Representative Sal Esquivel is one of two members in the Oregon legislature working to repeal the state’s sanctuary immigration law. He says it comes down to following federal law.

“Why should we just allow someone that walks in to cut in front and say ‘okay I’m here now so you have to accept me’, it’s still against the law,” Rep. Esquivel says.

“This is going to push people who are already in the shadows, further in,” Kathy Keesee says.

Those at Unete Center for Farm Worker Advocacy say repealing the law would be a step back, and a waste of law enforcement resources.

“It is not the job of local law enforcement to be enforcing immigration law,” Keesee says, “there’s a lot more important things to do than worry about some man or woman who has come to this country to try and help their family survive, and helping keep our economy alive and they get caught without turning on their blinker and we’re deporting them.”

The proposal has received a thousand signatures which are needed to start the process of getting the measure on the 2018 ballot, however the Department of Justice has yet to give the measure a title because it says those who signed it may have not realized they were signing in favor of repealing an existing statute. It’s unclear what steps will be taken to move the measure forward.


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