16 county sheriffs: Vote to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary law

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fifteen Oregon county sheriffs endorsed a message from Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin on Monday that called for voters to repeal the state’s sanctuary law in light of Mollie Tibbets’ murder. 

Measure 105, which aims to repeal the law “limiting use of state and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws,” qualified for the November ballot with over 111,000 signatures. Sheriff Bergin, citing “respect for the law,” hopes voters will pass the measure this fall. 

“The statute undermines respect for law in significant ways,” Bergin wrote in regard to the state’s sanctuary law, which was reinforced by Gov. Kate Brown in Feb. 2017. “It tells illegal immigrants that Oregon considers immigration-law violations so inconsequential as to be unworthy of police and sheriffs’ attention. In doing so, it legitimizes those violations and encourages more. As well, the statute invites the contempt of U.S. citizens and legal residents, whom Oregon expects to, abide by all laws.”

Tibbets, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student, was last seen on July 18 when she went for a run in the rural town of Brooklyn — about an hour east of Des Moines. Her body was found by investigators in a cornfield on Aug. 21. The man that led investigators there, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, confessed to kidnapping Tibbets, killing her and dumping her body. He’s been charged with first-degree murder. 

Rivera, a Mexican immigrant, had also been living in the area illegally for four-to-seven years, according to investigators. He had been working at a local family-owned dairy farm.

The search for Tibbets had the nation’s attention for over a month. Rivera’s arrest, and the discovery of Tibbets’ body did, too, including the eyes of President Donald Trump, who spoke about the revelation later that day during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia. 

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Trump told the crowd in Charleston, according to the Associated Press. “Should’ve never happened. Illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact, but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace, we’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans. We have to get ’em.”

Trump’s call for immigration reform, in light of Tibbet’s murder, was echoed Monday in Bergin’s letter. 

“Mollie Tibbets’ recent murder has refocused attention on the violence and heartbreak illegal-immigrant criminals can visit on Americans and their families,” Bergin wrote.

Also in the letter, Bergin countered pro-sanctuary arguments of his own creation. You can read those responses and Bergin’s full letter here.

Here’s a list of the county sheriffs that endorsed Bergin’s letter:

  • Gilliam — Sheriff Gary Bettencourt
  • Harney — Sheriff Dave Ward
  • Morrow — Sheriff Ken Matlack
  • Sherman — Sheriff Brad Lohrey
  • Umatilla — Sheriff Terry Rowan
  • Malheur — Sheriff Brian Wolfe
  • Douglas — Sheriff John Hanlin
  • Curry — Sheriff John Ward
  • Coos — Sheriff Craig Zanni
  • Klamath — Sheriff Chris Kaber
  • Union — Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen
  • Grant — Sheriff Glenn Palmer
  • Wheeler — Sheriff Chris Humphrey
  • Lake — Sheriff Mike Taylor
  • Deschutes — Sheriff Shane Nelson

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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