BEND, OR -- A letter recently signed by 17 Sheriffs, including in Jefferson and Deschutes counties, asks voters to overturn Oregon's sanctuary state status. Measure 105 would repeal the state statute which prohibits local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration law.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel disagrees with his own Sheriff, saying the enforcement of immigration law is a federal issue. "If we need more ICE agents, if we need more INS agents, if we need greater enforcement of people who are overstaying their visas, let's do that. Let's hire more Federal law enforcement officers," says Hummel, "It seems to me like my friends who are in favor of 105, what in essence they're saying, is the federal immigration system is broken. They're not doing their job." He believes local agencies are already underfunded and stretched thin, "I'm tired of the Feds not doing their job and then coming down to the locals and asking us to clean up their mess." He tells KBND News, "We have limited law enforcement resources in our community, like all communities do, and I want to use those limited dollars to focus on enforcing Oregon criminal law."
Hummel also worries that if the statute is overturned, fewer witnesses will come forward, "I don't want to impede criminal investigations by deterring undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes." Hummel adds, "What if my star witness is an undocumented immigrant? I want to be able to tell her, 'Come forward, I'm not going to report you'."