Sponsors Of Oregon Anti-Sanctuary Measure Say Setback Won’t Stop Ballot Drive

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson
File photo. Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson during an election night event Nov. 8, 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez

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A group seeking to repeal a controversial Oregon law on immigration says it will have to toss about 8,000 signatures.

But the leader of the group says it won’t deter them from moving forward with putting a measure on the November ballot that would overturn Oregon’s sanctuary law.  That statute essentially prohibits local police from helping enforce federal immigration law.

“We have no intention whatsoever of withdrawing,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians For Immigration Reform.

Kendoll’s group is the only one that sought to take advantage of a new petitioning rule that Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson tried to put into place last summer.

Richardson’s rule change would have allowed petitioners to collect signatures before gaining a certified ballot title.  Richardson said that petitioners were often held up for months by legal challenges to the ballot title and that he wanted to make it easier for them to qualify their measures.

Richardson repeatedly delayed finalizing his new rule changes until the beginning of the year.  And then he abandoned them altogether after Our Oregon — a political group allied with several unions and other liberal groups — filed a suit charging that he didn’t have the authority to make the changes.

As a result, Kendoll said her group won’t be able to turn in about 8,000 signatures it collected during the late summer and early fall.  The group now has a certified ballot title and is continuing to collect signatures.

Andrea Williams is executive director of Causa, an immigrant rights organization in Oregon.  She noted that Kendoll’s group has hired paid petitioners and is continuing to receive donations.

“All of the signs told me they are moving forward,” said Williams, who said she thought the measure would likely qualify for the November ballot. 

Sponsors need about 88,000 signatures by July to qualify.  Kendoll declined to say how many they have so far.

If the measure makes the ballot, it could set off a nationally watched political battle.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized cities and states that provide protection for immigrants without legal status.  Supporters of the sanctuary law say it helps protect immigrants against unfair crackdowns.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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