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Oregonians Deciding Fate of Pioneering Sanctuary State Law

Measure 105 in Oregon has become the most contentious ballot measure facing voters in the mostly Democratic state.

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 10:41 AM

By ANDREW SELSKY , Associated Press

INDEPENDENCE, Ore. (AP) — Delmiro Trevino, a U.S. citizen born in Texas, was waiting for a meal in a restaurant in Independence, Oregon, in 1977 when three sheriff's deputies and a policewoman demanded he show documents proving he was an American.

"I was ashamed. It wasn't right, what they were doing," Trevino, now 67 with gray hair, said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

The incident of racial profiling led to Oregon becoming America's first sanctuary state. But now, Oregonians are deciding in the Nov. 6 election whether to repeal the law, even as some other states, such as Vermont, have adopted sanctuary policies and others, like Texas, have banned towns from approving them.

Measure 105 in Oregon has become the most contentious ballot measure facing voters in the mostly Democratic state.

Some people want the state to conform to federal law.

But among people of color — U.S. citizens and people in the country illegally — it has triggered memories of times when immigration roundups were common and fears that they'll be stopped by police.

Rep. Sal Esquivel, one of three Republican state lawmakers who sponsored Measure 105, said the sanctuary law "undermines respect for our most precious inheritance, the rule of law."

"Our nation cannot remain sovereign without laws that regulate which foreign nationals come here, when, and in what numbers," Esquivel wrote in the voters' pamphlet.

The measure has split law enforcement.

Sheriff Thomas Bergin of Clatsop County, along Oregon's northern coast, said in a public letter that the sanctuary law "tells illegal immigrants that Oregon considers immigration law violations so inconsequential as to be unworthy of police and sheriffs' attention."

Fifteen sheriffs added their names to the letter. Twenty did not.

Law enforcement officers who oppose the repeal effort, such as Sheriff Pat Garrett of Washington County near Portland, said they need to direct their resources elsewhere instead of going after migrants, and that erasing the sanctuary law would make migrants afraid to report crimes when they're victims or witnesses.

"Throwing out the law would open the door to racial profiling, and would degrade community trust in law enforcement," state Rep. Diego Hernandez, a Portland Democrat, said in an email.

Latinos remember what it was like before the sanctuary law went on the books.

"The culture in the mid-20th century was, 'You can work here, but don't start looking at our girls or going to our churches,'" said Rocky Barilla, the first Latino elected to the Oregon Legislature. "Police were knocking on doors of apartment buildings. They set up roadblocks on Highway 99 and stopped people, especially if they were brown or Latino."

One winter night in 1977, three Polk County deputies and an Independence policewoman went into the Hi-Ho restaurant in the picturesque riverside city and confronted Trevino. Born in Weslaco, Texas, the soft-spoken Trevino had moved to Oregon with his family as a boy. He worked in a plywood mill.

One of the deputies grabbed Trevino by the arm, forcing him to stand as customers looked on. Like most Americans, Trevino didn't routinely carry a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.

"They asked me if I am an American, and asked me if I had a passport," Trevino recalled.

The officers, acting on behalf of federal immigration agents, let him go after the policewoman said she recognized Trevino as a long-term local. Still, a deputy accosted him later.

Trevino was so bothered that he and his wife Oralia went to a legal aid group. There, they found Barilla, who suggested Trevino sue the law officers and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Trevino felt queasy about taking that step.

"I told my wife, I have to be strong because of what I was going to do, because this was the government. It's not a game," Barilla remembered while sitting in his house in Independence on a recent afternoon.

The lawsuit was settled in federal court in 1978, with the immigration service saying it wouldn't encourage local law enforcement to make arrests on immigration violations, Barilla said.

Still, raids persisted in the state. In the 1980s, Barilla was elected to the Legislature, with the Trevino case strong on his mind. It prompted the Democratic representative to write the sanctuary state bill, which passed with bipartisan support in 1987.

"I worked with Republicans, who wanted a stable labor force," Barilla said in a telephone interview from Belmont, California, where he now lives. "The left saw it as an end to racial profiling. Law enforcement saw it as controlling their own goals and funds."

Barilla said Trevino played a key role in the issue.

"He's the real Rosa Parks of the Oregon sanctuary movement," Barilla said, comparing him to the African-American civil rights icon who refused to sit in the back of a bus in Alabama. "He said 'No mas, ya basta,' meaning 'no more, enough.'"

"He used a couple other colorful words," Barilla added with a laugh.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40443

Reported Deaths: 635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8743155
Marion5590106
Washington546973
Umatilla329543
Clackamas299065
Lane221226
Malheur186634
Jackson15556
Deschutes107413
Yamhill95615
Linn76414
Polk63915
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50913
Union4582
Benton4186
Klamath4013
Wasco33515
Douglas3314
Hood River2721
Josephine2583
Columbia2491
Clatsop2340
Coos2290
Baker1132
Crook872
Tillamook700
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake340
Sherman180
Harney170
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
Santa Clara23591382
Alameda22932435
San Joaquin21436484
Contra Costa18273238
Stanislaus17403394
Tulare17317279
Ventura13930160
Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
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