In Oregon, nativists have placed a measure on the ballot to overturn a 31-year-old sanctuary policy, one that restricts the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration laws and protects community members from profiling based on their perceived immigration status. If it passes, the message to immigrant communities across the state will be clear: You are neither safe nor welcome here. What’s more, the message could resonate across the country, spurring repeal of similar policies elsewhere.
The debate over these “sanctuary” policies limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities often misconstrues what they actually do. Sanctuary laws like Oregon’s simply protect members of our communities, some long-standing, from racial profiling, detention and deportation. But anti-immigrant activists, emboldened by President Trump’s nativist rhetoric and policies, have branded these policies as dangerous to Americans, part of a multi-front attack on immigrant rights.