Latest sanctuary bill undermines state law, shields the undocumented

Letter date: 
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Letter publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Letter author: 
Cynthia Kendoll
Letter body: 

Thirty years ago, lawmakers made Oregon the first sanctuary for illegal immigrants: A law, Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, enjoins the state's police and sheriffs from "detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws."

Today, the House of Representatives' Democratic majority goes even further. Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 28 House Democrats have introduced House Bill 3464, to prohibit, "except as required by state or federal law," Oregon's "public bodies" -- its various governments, its schools, and its law-enforcement agencies -- from sharing with federal immigration authorities illegal immigrants' addresses, contact information, workplaces, schools of attendance, and scheduled court appearances if such information was intended to be used "for the . . . enforcement of federal immigration laws."

HB 3464 is harmful for several reasons: undermining the rule of law generally, and U.S. immigration law specifically, and by shielding criminal aliens from detection.

HB 3464 weakens our national security. "With the FBI investigating nearly 1,000 active terrorism cases in the U.S., federal agents are stretched thin and depend heavily on information provided by state and local officials," notes Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "By impeding communication with federal immigration officials, HB3464 will create an environment where terrorists and other criminal aliens can go undetected and uninterrupted.  Are the sponsors of this bill prepared to accept responsibility for the more serious crimes committed by people here illegally?

Another important reason the Legislature should reject the bill: It would savage Oregonians' recent and clear electoral mandate against illegal immigration.

In 2013, the Legislature passed SB 833 – a bill providing state issued photo ID, in the form of a driver card and without proof of legal presence. Fifty-eight members of the House and Senate -- almost two-thirds of the Legislature -- voted in favor.

Outraged citizens filed a Citizen's Veto Referendum (Measure 88) to overturn SB 833. It was a bitter fight, the Legislature even attempting to hi-jack the ballot title issued by the Attorney General. They failed miserably - being excoriated by all seven of Oregon's major newspapers.

Oregon voters, in 2014, seized the opportunity to tell law-makers loud and clear that they didn't want the state to provide special privileges to people here illegally.  Voters rejected Measure 88 by a massive two-to-one margin, defeating it in 35 of Oregon's 36 counties and all five congressional districts.

The question, then, via HB 3464, should a few dozen legislators contradict the anti-illegal immigration mandate sent by almost a million of their constituents?  Of course not. To do so constitutes hubris and arrogance, but also undermines Oregon's system of checks, balances, and popular self-rule.

HB 3464 is a bad bill.  It endangers citizens and violates Oregonians' clearly-stated electoral will. Lawmakers should kill it posthaste.

Cynthia Kendoll is president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She can be reached at