Oregon Gov. Kate Brown faces growing pressure to veto a bill that would expand the state’s sanctuary status after an illegal immigrant who had been deported 20 times was arrested and charged with raping an elderly Portland woman.
On the Democratic governor’s desk is House Bill 3464, an “emergency” measure that would prohibit “public bodies,” such as state and local agencies, from divulging or inquiring about a person’s immigration status except as required by state and federal law.
Outraged Republicans have doubled down on their campaign to stop the legislation since the July 24 arrest of 31-year-old Sergio Martinez, who is accused of binding and raping a 65-year-old Portland woman, then later that day trying to kidnap a 24-year-old woman.
A week earlier, Martinez had been released from the Multnomah County jail after Immigration and Custom Enforcement tried to hold him with a civil detainer, instead of a criminal warrant signed by a judge, “which they know cannot be legally used in Oregon,” Sheriff Mike Reese said in a statement.
Martinez was “released consistent with the orders of the court” after serving a 31-day sentence, the maximum allowed by law, the sheriff said.
The suspect, who has been charged with first-degree sex abuse, sodomy, burglary, robbery and kidnapping, had been deported 20 times to Mexico. He had been booked nine times in the Multnomah County jail alone since 2008.
“Under no circumstances should an alleged sex-offending criminal illegal alien get off scot free from their heinous crimes,” Senate Minority Whip Dennis Linthicum said in a statement. “This is why we have rules, laws and the legislature … these institutions protect people.”
He said that sanctuary states like Oregon “excuse lawless behavior and perpetuate criminal, rape and gang cultures. Every Oregonian should be outraged to see criminals let loose into the streets. Career Democrats shouldn’t sacrifice Oregonians’ safety on the altar of their extreme political agenda.”
The bill won final approval July 6 in the Democrat-controlled Legislature with no Republican votes. The governor has 30 days to make a decision.
Republican state Sen. Kim Thatcher said signing the bill “will be considered an act of lawlessness by my constituents.”
“House Bill 3464 aids and abets lawbreakers,” Ms. Thatcher said. “It will censure Oregon state and local governments by restraining them from giving full cooperation to law enforcement when the suspect is not legally present.”
The bill, introduced at the request of Ms. Brown and state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, came in reaction to the Trump administration’s push to enforce immigration laws, according to the House Rules Committee analysis.
“Increased federal commitment to enforcing federal immigration laws has recently resulted in fear and uncertainty amongst immigrant populations and instability at public institutions that serve all individuals regardless of status,” said the analysis.
The measure also “provides guidance for state agencies about how to implement policies that respect confidentiality while complying with state and federal law.”
“Our immigrant communities are living in fear,” said Oregon state Rep. Alonso Leon in a May 31 statement after House passage.
“I have heard from children who are afraid to go to school in the morning, because they aren’t sure if their parents will be home at the end of the day,” he said. “I won’t stand for these inhumane immigration enforcement tactics that are tearing families apart — this bill is our chance to protect these communities.”
Legislative Republicans countered that the bill “not only aims to silence public bodies from cooperating with the feds, it also contains a procedural tactic that curtails citizens from having a say on the issue.”
As an emergency bill, HB 364 would go into effect immediately, which “essentially denies voters their constitutional right of referenda,” said the GOP statement.