Oregon Governor Finds the Shoe is on the Other Foot When She Asks for Help from Local Police and Sheriffs

Things haven’t been going so well in Oregon lately, as anyone who has not been in a coma for the past several months knows. The state’s largest city, Portland, has been engulfed in nightly mayhem and violence that Gov. Kate Brown and Mayor Ted Wheeler have insisted are “peaceful protests.”

To quell the “peaceful protests” that have now turned deadly, Gov. Brown has requested law enforcement assistance from other Oregon law enforcement departments (after booting federal law enforcement departments sent in earlier this summer to stop the peaceful destruction of federal property). Gov. Brown called on sheriffs’ departments and local police in neighboring counties and cities to help restore order in Portland. She got the same answer from Oregon sheriffs and police departments that her state has been giving to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for years when they have requested cooperation: NO!

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett explained, “The lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly.” Or, in simple English, Sheriff Garrett was making it clear that he lacks the confidence that the state and/or the city would have his officers’ backs and therefore has no intention of putting them in harm’s way.

The refusal of fellow law enforcement departments to help out in a crisis is the inevitable consequence of deliberate policies to undermine the rule of law that began with immigration law. Since 1987, Oregon has practiced passive resistance to federal immigration law enforcement, by refusing to cooperate with ICE requests to detain deportable criminals in local custody. In recent years, the state has graduated to obstruction by throwing up legal roadblocks to ICE carrying out its mission in Oregon, even without local cooperation.

Undermining the rule of law turns out to be a slippery slope. Tolerance for illegal immigration turned into tolerance for criminal illegal aliens, and eventually protection for them. That same contempt for laws has been on display nightly on the streets of Portland for more than three months, while police were tacitly told to stand down and where demands by political radicals to defund the police have been met with acquiescence by state and city leaders. And now that matters have gotten so out-of-hand that the governor has finally decided that it is time to restore some semblance of order, the respect for law and law enforcement officers has been so eroded that police and sheriffs around her state won’t answer the call.

As advocates for immigration enforcement have long contended, our legal system is not a smorgasbord where everyone can pick which laws to obey and which not (or even impeded). Contempt for laws begets contempt for more laws. Refusal to cooperate with some law enforcement departments begets refusal to cooperate with other law enforcement departments. Obstruction of enforcement of some laws begets obstruction of enforcement of other laws. In Oregon, as in many other places, it began with the undermining of immigration laws.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

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