Opinion: Sanctuary law undermines sovereignty, endangers citizens
In a recent commentary, Columbia County District Attorney Jeff Auxier declared his opposition to Measure 105, which will give Oregonians the opportunity to repeal the state's illegal-immigrant sanctuary law ("Don't believe the hype on 'sanctuary state' law repeal measure ," Sept. 21).
Let's look at several of Auxier's contentions.
Number one: The law "has not turned Oregon into a sanctuary state." It hasn't? Read the law's central passage: "No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of 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."
As Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin wrote recently, this makes clear to illegal immigrants "that Oregon considers immigration-law violations so inconsequential as to be unworthy of police and sheriffs' attention." How can this do anything but make Oregon a sanctuary state?
Number two: "Columbia County cops shouldn't waste their days investigating whether an otherwise law-abiding resident has the correct immigration papers." Setting aside the "otherwise law-abiding" part for a moment, does Auxier really believe that immigration-law violations, in and of themselves, have no impact on Columbia County?
The county is not an island unto itself. It is part of a nation — a sovereign nation predicated on its citizens' right to self-determination as a free, autonomous people. That sovereignty depends greatly on enforcement of laws that regulate which foreign nationals may come here, when, and in what numbers. Transgressions of those laws — and, worse, state policies that give safe haven to those who break them — undermine that sovereignty. And with it, they undermine safety, order and stability in every one of America's political subdivisions.
As an attorney, shouldn't Auxier understand the relationship between sovereignty and law — and the effect of that relationship on civic order in Columbia County? And number three: "I don't see why our sheriff's office should do ICE's job for them when we have real criminals at large in our community." (ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency charged with enforcing immigration law in America's interior.) The problem is this: many of those "real criminals" are precisely the people Auxier believes the sanctuary law should shield from scrutiny.
On a routine basis, illegal immigration is precursory to other crimes — crimes that can impact Oregonians profoundly. "Virtually all adult illegal aliens commit felonies in order to procure the documents they need to get jobs, to drive and to obtain other benefits," writes Ronald Mortensen, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies.
Indeed, notes Mortensen, "the Social Security Administration and New York Times report that approximately 75 percent of illegal aliens have fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers."
The U.S. Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration, CNS News' Terence Jeffrey reports, found that between 2011 and 2016 there were "more than 1.3 million cases of identity theft perpetrated by illegal aliens ... ineligible to work in the United States."
These kinds of crimes can wreak havoc on innocent Oregonians — and, notes Sheriff Bergin, "are well within local police and sheriffs' purview." But thanks to the warped, Alice-in-Wonderland logic of the sanctuary law, the fact that illegal immigrants are here illegally is precisely what can render them off-limits to further scrutiny.
Why does Auxier defend this?
U.S. immigration authorities need local law enforcement's help. "In a country of 325 million containing perhaps 20 million or more illegal immigrants," notes Oregon State Sen. Kim Thatcher, ICE's "interior enforcement-and-removal agents number only a few thousand — 5,800 in fiscal year 2016 and barely more than that today." For Oregon's district attorneys, sheriffs and police to deny ICE their proactive help is to reject a fundamental responsibility to their nation and to the citizens they are sworn to protect. They should regard such help, instead, as one of their central duties.When you get your ballot, vote for safety for Oregonians — not sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Vote yes on Measure 105.
Richard F. LaMountain is a former vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and an activist in the Yes on Measure 105 campaign.