Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin
Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin Clatsop County Sheriff

Sixteen Oregon sheriffs have come out in support of Measure 105, a November ballot measure that would repeal the state's 30-year-old "sanctuary" law prohibiting the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law. By doing so, the law enforcement leaders have revealed a general cluelessness about undocumented immigrants living in the US.

Clatsop County Sheriff Thomas Bergin announced the sheriffs' opposition in a statement released this morning, in which he suggested undocumented immigrants are inherently dangerous.

"Immigration-law violations are... precursors to other crimes illegal immigrants routinely commit in their efforts to conceal their illegal presence," says Bergin. He suggests that the state law protects those guilty of committing local or state crimes from punishment.

That's not true. The state statue specifically applies to cases where the person's only crime is being in the country illegally. Basically, this law keeps members of law enforcement from stopping people just to ask about their citizenship status.

Bergin leans heavily on a Iowa case where an undocumented immigrant has been charged with a woman's murder. Since this undocumented immigrant may be a murderer, Bergin seems to suggest, all undocumented immigrants are murderers. Is now the right time to mention how many white male members of law enforcement have been charged with murder?

The most "nonsensical" argument for maintaining the state sanctuary law, writes Bergin, is that it would "unleash a wave of profiling against Hispanics." His reasoning: All cops are fair and noble.

"People who choose to devote their lives to law enforcement are people of uncommon integrity. From their first day on the job, when they raises their right hands and take the oath, the commit themselves to treat everyone equally under the law," he says. "I can honestly say that I have never witnessed an instance of racial profiling from any of my deputies."

So, according to this white man living in Astoria—a city known for being the second-largest KKK hub in Oregon—members of law enforcement are simply incapable of racism. Bergin also claims undocumented immigrants aren't afraid of reporting crimes to the police, "to the very best of [his] knowledge."

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It appears the Measure 105 campaign will divide Oregon's law enforcement leaders. Bergin's statement is co-signed by sheriffs representing relatively rural counties, including Malheur, Umatilla, Douglas, Morrow, Klamath, Lake, and Deshutes counties. In total, around 16 percent of Oregon's registered voters live in the 16 counties whose sheriffs back Bergin.

In Multnomah County, however, Sheriff Mike Reese has expressed his vocal opposition to Measure 105. Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has said she won't comment on the "political" issue.