Wheeler, others criticize Sessions on day of visit
Mayor Ted Wheeler outlined Portland's disagreement with the Trump Administration on immigration issues in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.
The letter was released to the media before Sessions' scheduled 11 a.m. meeting with local and federal law enforcement officials. Wheelers' office said the mayor will not meet with Sessions during his visit, although top police officials are expected to do so.
Although the letter started by welcoming Sessions to Portland, it then major areas of disagreement with his positions on immigration issues:
• Portland's status as a sanctuary city that does not cooperate with federal officials on immigration-only matters, which Sessions has strongly criticized.
• Portland's participation in a lawsuit with Seattle challenging the Trump Administration's efforts to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.
• Support for continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy initiated by former President Barak Obama that President Donald Trump has announced with end in six months. It shields children illegally brought into this country from deportation.
"Portland is a thriving city because we have a population with diverse backgrounds who contribute positively to the fabric of our community. Our welcoming attitide towards all residents of our community is a core component of our identifty, and a key to our success," Wheeler wrote.
Wheeler also called Portland's police settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice a model for other communities. The city agreed to reform the police bureau after the federal government decided it has a hisotry of using excessive force against the mentally ill.
KOIN 6 News reports Sessions is expected to meet the head of the Portland Police Association, acting Portland police chief Mathew Wagenknecht, Portland assistant chief Chris Davis, Portland acting assistant chief Robert King, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett, who is the president of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association, among others.
Even before Wheeler released his letter, Commissioner Nick Fish criticized the visit on his Facebook page, writing, "Attorney General Sessions is in town–and we need to let him know that Portland stands with our DREAMers," which is a term commonly used to identify those protected from deportation by DACA.
And on Tuesday morning, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Vedant Patel issued the following statement:
"This trip is nothing more than another effort by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump to bully local governments into adopting the harsh, anti-immigrant policies of this administration. Instead of focusing efforts on detaining criminals, Sessions and Trump are more concerned with tearing communities apart. This is an affront to our values as a nation. We should not be threatening the tens of thousands of Oregonian DREAMers and cities, like Portland, who stand with their immigrant communities. The Democratic Party believes our diversity is our greatest strength and will always fight for hardworking families and a smart, sensible immigration system that doesn't force millions back into the shadows."
Several groups have announced plans to protest Sessions' visit beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday outside the Northwest Portland office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services where the meeting will be held.
You can read Wheeler's letter at here.