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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: 4086

Reported Deaths: 151
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah110359
Marion93125
Washington71517
Clackamas30411
Deschutes1210
Linn1159
Umatilla1143
Polk9811
Yamhill697
Lane672
Jackson650
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath410
Malheur330
Coos310
Douglas250
Jefferson250
Josephine251
Wasco211
Columbia160
Hood River130
Morrow120
Lincoln100
Crook60
Curry60
Union60
Tillamook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 103813

Reported Deaths: 3993
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles498602241
Riverside7341313
San Diego7100260
Orange5744142
San Bernardino4914190
Alameda309794
Santa Clara2701140
San Francisco243740
San Mateo202282
Kern200737
Tulare183580
Fresno165832
Santa Barbara163612
Imperial144326
Contra Costa138437
Sacramento134956
Ventura106232
San Joaquin84235
Kings7043
Stanislaus68328
Sonoma5304
Solano50922
Monterey4699
Marin43614
Merced2807
San Luis Obispo2681
Yolo20723
Santa Cruz2062
Placer1969
Napa1113
Humboldt983
Madera942
San Benito852
El Dorado840
Del Norte440
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Shasta374
Mono351
Yuba281
Mendocino250
Lake230
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn140
Amador100
Siskiyou60
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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