- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2018

An Oregon anti-sanctuary initiative has qualified for the November ballot, raising the real possibility that one of the nation’s bluest states could become the first to repeal sanctuary status for immigrants who crossed the border illegally.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced Tuesday that Initiative Petition 22 had cleared the signature threshold, registering a 95.3 percent validity rate on the 111,000 signatures submitted less than two weeks ago.

Organizers with Stop Oregon Sanctuaries needed 88,184 valid signatures to earn a slot on the ballot.

“WE DID IT!” said the campaign in a website post.

“Thank you for signing our petition to allow Oregon voters to decide whether they want Oregon to be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens,” said the group.

Oregonians United Against Profiling, the coalition leading the fight against IP 22, called on allies to mobilize in defense of Oregon’s 1978 law, the oldest state sanctuary law in the nation.

“Today, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office confirmed that anti-immigrant groups have turned in enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot,” said the coalition. “Their ballot measure aims to throw out Oregon’s sanctuary law, which has been protecting Oregonians from unfair profiling for over 30 years. While it’s disheartening that they collected enough signatures to qualify, we’re confident that together we can defeat this!”

Opponents of the state’s sanctuary law countered the initiative will give Oregon voters an opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to restrict local and state cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

“Wow! Oregonians will get to speak on this all-important issue,” tweeted Republican state Rep. Bill Post.

If the initiative is approved, Oregon would become the first to overturn a state sanctuary law. A similar signature-gathering campaign is underway in California for the 2020 ballot after falling short last year.

The high-profile coalition lined up against IP 22 in Oregon includes business organizations, labor unions and advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which are expected to unleash a fundraising juggernaut to defeat the proposal.

Organizers point to their landslide 2014 ballot victory with Measure 88, which repealed the state Legislature’s bill allowing driver cards for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, even though the repeal campaign was outspent 11 to 1.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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