Honesty, patriotism define Oregon's sanctuary repeal effort

Article author: 
Richard F. LaMountain
Article publisher: 
Herald and News
Article date: 
Friday, June 29, 2018
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation,” declares self-help guru Tony Robbins.
Bereft of the former, the liberal group Our Oregon has embraced the latter.
For the past year, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a group that advocates policies to stem illegal immigration, has worked to qualify a measure for the November ballot that will enable voters to repeal Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, the state’s illegal-immigrant sanctuary law. Our Oregon has sought to demonize OFIR’s effort by tarring the thoroughly mainstream organization as a “white supremacist hate group.”
The backbone of OFIR’s campaign has been the scores of volunteers who have circulated the petition and worked to gather the 88,000 signatures needed to certify the measure for the ballot. Those volunteers, of whom I am one, are motivated not by “hate” but by patriotism — and by the knowledge that Americans of all races benefit from laws that work to ensure an orderly influx of immigrants to our country. Tens of thousands of rank-and-file Oregonians have been excited to sign the petition and lend their names and support to sanctuary repeal.
To supplement the volunteers’ work, last year the campaign contracted with a company that employs paid signature gatherers — a small minority of whom, as the Herald and News reported in a recent story (“Investigation targets ‘sanctuary state’ repeal effort,” June 2), may have sought to misrepresent the measure as protecting, not repealing, the sanctuary law.
Lee Vasche, the company’s owner, “acknowledged complaints about misrepresentation in general,” the story reported. “Most were the fault of one signature gatherer, Vasche said, adding the company fired two other circulators and destroyed about 400 signatures” that may have been obtained under false pretenses.
But Our Oregon now suggests, with no evidence whatever, that Vasche may have known and approved of efforts to misrepresent the measure. Indeed, argues a complaint the group submitted to the state Department of Justice, “it is difficult to imagine a scenario” in which this was not the case.
This is baseless conjecture. Many ballot-measure campaigns employ paid signature gatherers. Those employees work on their own absent close supervision. The great majority are scrupulous to represent their measures fairly and accurately. A very few, however, are not. Their indiscretions do not reflect on the veracity of their employers or negate the value of the campaigns with which they are or have been associated.
I have worked with Lee Vasche since 2009, when I joined him on OFIR’s board of directors. He has long been one of Oregon’s premier political-marketing professionals. His integrity is beyond reproach. For Our Oregon to allege he was complicit in a strategy to deceive voters besmirches the reputation of an honest man. And it reveals the desperate measures to which the group will resort to keep sanctuary repeal off November’s ballot.
As for the measure itself? Oregon’s sanctuary statute forbids Oregon’s police departments and sheriff’s offices to use their resources to detect and apprehend reputedly “noncriminal” illegal immigrants. In doing so, it helps illegal immigrants escape the consequences of their lawbreaking — and encourages even more of them to come here.
Repealing the statute would free our police and sheriffs to take the initiative to help enforce immigration law. And it would send the clear message that lawbreakers of any kind will not get a free pass in Oregon’s communities.
To help get sanctuary repeal onto the ballot, interested voters should print a single-signature petition (available at StopOregonSanctuaries.org), sign it, and mail it to the campaign’s headquarters by July 2.
Richard F. LaMountain is a former vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. In 2014, he was a chief sponsor of the ballot measure via which Oregon voters rejected illegal-immigrant driver cards.