Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler is endorsing a ballot measure to repeal Oregon's so-called sanctuary law, putting him at odds with Gov. Kate Brown on a hot-button immigration issue.
Buehler told conservative talk show host Lars Larson this week that he supports overturning the 31-year-old law that largely bars state and local police from enforcing federal immigration law.
“We need to have coordination and collaboration between local law enforcement and federal law enforcement,” Buehler said. “People who are here and committing crimes, there needs to be that kind of coordination and communication. It is common sense.”
Brown, a Democrat, has made it clear that she’ll fight to keep the law.
“I see Oregon as a welcoming and inclusive place for all who want to call Oregon home,” she said at a press conference last week. She said the law has helped curb racial profiling and assure crime victims they can talk to the police without fearing deportation.
Brown last year signed a bill to strengthen the sanctuary law by, among other things, limiting the amount of information the state collects on someone’s immigration status. Buehler opposed that change.
The governor also argued that the current law “doesn’t impact” the ability of law enforcement to deal with anyone committing a crime.
Critics of the sanctuary law have argued otherwise. They point to the case of Sergio Martinez, who had been released from Multnomah County jail a year ago despite being sought by immigration authorities. Seven days later, he assaulted two women, police said.
Martinez became a major talking point for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been the Trump administration's lead voice in attacking sanctuary laws in cities and states around the country.
Supporters of the sanctuary law point to studies showing that crime rates are lower among immigrant populations, and they charge that backers of the measure are driven by racial animus.
Buehler told Larson that if the law is repealed, the state can take steps to curb racial profiling by police and to assure crime victims that they don’t have to worry about going to the police.