The issue for some was simply about respect for U.S. laws, the nation's sovereignty and secure borders.
For others, it was a rejection what they saw as hatred. What seemed clear even before the rally started was that few would find any middle ground.
About 100 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Saturday for a rally to hear Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, speak about immigration, drugs, gun laws, taxes and getting tough on crime.
The event was sponsored by the Oregon Republican Party.
Also in front of the Capitol, but across the street, about three times as many people gathered in protest of Arpaio, who is known for his conservative stances on immigration and hard-line policing.
Now 81, Arpaio has been sheriff for 23 years of the county that contains Phoenix and the 13th-largest metropolitan area in the nation.
During his 40-minute speech, Arpaio spoke of illegal immigration as an economic, diplomatic, and political problem. He joked about how the crowd across Court Street could have arrived at Capitol, prompting laughter from those crowded onto the steps.
While the counter-ralliers waited for the speech to start, they chanted "no hate in our state," and "love your neighbor."
Yrma Hernandez, a "40-something" Salem resident was among the counter-rally crowd and said she attended the event in the 90-plus-degree weather to support farmworkers.
"I'm here to support all the people who work hard for us in the fields," Hernandez said. "They deserve a chance to work, too — a chance to have work permits and green cards."
Arpaio, who is known as "America's Toughest Sheriff," has implemented some controversial programs and regulations — like chain gangs, two daily meals in jails instead of three, and a "tent city" where inmates reside in military surplus tents.
Hillsboro resident Brad Toman stood on the Capitol steps holding a full-sized American flag.
"I'm here today because I support the sovereignty of our nation and a secure border," Toman said. "The government doesn't seem to support us in enforcing immigration laws."
Toman said he became politically active when Oregon driver cards became an issue and said he was happy that 66 percent of Oregonians were against it.
"It showed me that there's a big silent majority here in Oregon," Toman said. "And I'm a bit disappointed in the number here on this side of the street, and the tact of those across the way.
"The signs they're holding refer to race. Immigration isn't about race at all. They play the race card because it's inflammatory."
Ruben Zamora, 25, was one of the few who crossed Court Street and ascend the steps.
"They called me a terrorist," Zamora said, who was wearing a plastic mask. "I said, 'Jesus commanded us to love one another.' All this hate creates a gut-wrenching feeling for me."
As part of the rally, three pairs of pink underwear were raffled as prizes. The garments' significance relates to Arpaio's tactic after several pairs of white underwear were stolen from the Arizona jail.
After the thefts, Arpaio had jail underwear dyed pink, reasoning that those who turned up wearing the pink underwear in release sweeps could be identified as thieves.
Hernandez said she didn't appreciate Arpaio's presence in Oregon.
"Joe needs to take his pink underwear back home with him," Hernandez said. "We don't need them here."
As Arpaio stepped away from the podium, he reminded the crowd of why he was there and chants from across the street continued.
"This is the greatest country in the world," Arpaio said. "Some things I do are controversial, and that draws a lot of national attention, but the most important thing is to remember that this greatest country in the world."
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