Sessions criticizes Portland as sanctuary city while being protested
Police and protesters squared off Tuesday morning ahead of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' address to local and state law enforcement officials in Northwest Portland.
Sessions, an outspoken critic of sanctuary cities like Portland, spoke shortly after 1 p.m. at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office at Northwest 14th Avenue and Overton Street.
During his speech before local and federal law enforcement officials and others, Sessions took direct aim at Portland, which the City Council has declared will not cooperare with federal officials on immigration-only matters.
Sessions brought up the case of Sergio Martinez, an illegal alien who had been deported at least 12 times but returned to Portland, where he was arrested several times this year. Federal immigration officials saw his name on a list of those in custody and asked to be notified when he was scheduled to be released, so they could arrest and deport him again. But Martinez was let go without notification, and subsequently attacked and raped a woman in her home before being arrested again.
The vast majority of Americans oppose 'sanctuary' policies. According to one poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities should turn over criminal aliens to immigration officials. A poll taken earlier this month of swing-state voters found the same thing: 77 percent support denying federal funds to sanctuary cities," Sessions said.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese issued a statement following his meeting with Sessions. He wrote that he wanted to have a dialogue with the attorney general about the role of federal immigration versus law enfrocement.
However, Sessions "refused to acknowledge the 2014 federal court decision barring Oregon sheriffs from holding adults in custody based solely on ICE detainers," according to the statement.
"I want to be clear, I fundamentally believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," Reese writes.
He said that established Multnomah County Sheriff's Office policies and practices remain in place.
About 200 protesters gathered before Sessions started talking. Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran, who was among them, said, "We will do everything we can to protect immigrants and refugees."
A judge with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has blocked President Donald Trump's efforts to deny U.S. Department of Justice grants to sanctuary cities. The department filed notices Monday that it will appeal the injunction, however.
Two hours before his talk, dozens of protesters started gathering outside the building, held back by police barricades that included officers with the U.S. Deprtment of Homeland Security.
"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," said Portland's Resistance leader Gregory McKelvey.
KOIN 6 News, news partner of the Portland Tribune, contributed to this story.
This story was updated to reflect additional reporting.