Sessions: Sanctuary policies undermine authority of law

Groups began to gather at 11 a.m. to protest Sessions

KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) --- Dozens of people protested U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he visited Portland Tuesday afternoon -- where he delivered a speech about sanctuary cities.

The attorney general, an outspoken critic of sanctuary cities, made his remarks at 1 p.m. at the USCIS — US Citizenship and Immigration Services — field office in Northwest Portland.

Read AG Jeff Sessions' full speech at the bottom of this article

During his speech, he said the country is in the middle of a "multi-front battle" citing an increase in violent crime, a rise in gang activity, an opioid epidemic and threats from terrorism.

Sessions also said Portland "is not immune to these problems."

The attorney general said some jurisdictions have tried to undo immigration laws through sanctuary policies -- something Sessions said undermines the "moral authority of law and undermines the safety of the jurisdictions that adopt them."

Following sanctuary policies hinders the work of federal law enforcement and forces police to release criminals back into the streets when they should be processed and deported, Sessions said during his speech. Sessions then used Sergio Martinez as an example -- who had been deported at least 20 times before reportedly assaulting a 65-year-old woman in Portland.

Sessions ended his speech by urging the City of Portland and every sanctuary jurisdiction to reconsider their policies in order to "keep our citizens safe."

Ahead of Sessions' visit, groups organized a Facebook event for protests, which started at 11 a.m. outside of the USCIS building and continued throughout the attorney general's speech.

"I'm hoping that we make enough of a presence, that him traveling through downtown Portland, he will know that there is a protest to him in the city," activist Gregory McKelvey said.

The crowd booed Sessions as he arrived and left, but also chanted sayings like "No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here."

Sessions also met with local police officers, including the head of the Portland Police Association, acting Portland police chief Mathew Wagenknecht, Portland assistant chief Chris Davis, Portland acting assistant chief Robert King, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett, who is the president of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said he wouldn't meet with Sessions, but wrote a letter saying he opposed the Trump administration's efforts to "coerce local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws."

Reese provided the follow statement about his attendance:

As Sheriff, I attended an event with Attorney General Jeff Sessions today hoping to have an opportunity to engage in a productive dialogue about the role of federal immigration versus the role of local law enforcement.

The role of local public safety is clear -- codified in Oregon law and affirmed by the courts -- we are not a de facto arm of federal immigration. During today's discussion, Attorney General Sessions refused to acknowledge the 2014 federal court decision barring Oregon Sheriff's from holding adults in custody based solely on ICE detainers.

There are legal ways for federal, state, and local law enforcement to cooperate to help keep our communities safe and I support those efforts. These include holding offenders accountable on state and federal criminal matters.

I want to be clear, I fundamentally believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

As a result, established MCSO policies and practices remain in place. Our most important obligation is to maintain a trusting relationship with the community to keep everyone safe."

Sessions' full speech delivered Tuesday can be read below.

US appeals ruling that blocks cutting off sanctuary cities

(AP) -- The Trump administration is appealing a judge's ruling that blocks its effort to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

The administration filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick has temporarily halted President Donald Trump's order in two lawsuits - one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County.

The judge rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

The administration has since moved to withhold one particular law enforcement grant from sanctuary cities, prompting a new round of lawsuits.

A federal judge in Illinois blocked that move Friday.


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