Attorney General Jeff Sessions coming to Portland to talk about sanctuary cities

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a news conference at the Department of Justice July 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated Sept. 18, 2017 at 1:20 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be in Portland on Tuesday to talk about sanctuary cities and immigration with federal law enforcement officials.

Sessions will make his remarks at 1 p.m. at the Portland field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at 1455 N.W. Overton St.

Sessions is also expected to meet separately with Oregon sheriffs and police to discuss immigration, violent crime, drug enforcement and the opioid epidemic, among other things, an administration official said.

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish wrote on his Facebook page over the weekend that city needs to show Sessions that it "stands with our Dreamers."

Sessions announced earlier this month that the Trump administration would do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that has shielded almost 800,000 immigrants from deportation who were brought here as children. The young undocumented immigrants are known as "dreamers.”

Sessions called DACA an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch,” while President Donald J. Trump urged Congress to come up with an alternative.

Sessions also has spoken out publicly at least twice about the local case of Sergio Martinez, a man called "a serial immigration violator” by federal officials. He had been deported 12 times from California and Texas.

Martinez ended up in Oregon and cycled in and out of Multnomah County’s jails six times after Sheriff Mike Reese and the downtown jail refused to respond to a request from immigration agents to get notice of his release in December. Martinez is now in custody in Portland, accused of attacking two women in late July, charged with sodomy, sexual abuse, kidnapping and robbery.

In an address in Miami in August, Sessions blasted Multnomah County’s refusal to alert immigration officers. "How can these politicians hear this story and do nothing?” he asked. "By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe.”

On Friday, a federal judge in Chicago issued a nationwide injunction that blocks Sessions’ attempt to deny funding to "sanctuary” jurisdictions, such as Portland and Multnomah County.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett, president of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, said local law enforcement leaders have been invited to meet with Sessions.

The association "believes discussing law enforcement issues with the top U.S. Department of Justice official could be beneficial to local public safety,” Garrett said.

Garrett and Reese both plan to attend Sessions’ meeting.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as the city’s police commissioner, won’t be meeting with the attorney general.

"The mayor fundamentally disagrees with the AG’s approach to immigration issues and other issues, and will deliver that message to the AG via letter tomorrow,” said Michael Cox, Wheeler’s spokesman.

Local activists have planned a protest to coincide with Sessions’ visit.

Portland’s Resistance, the political group Milenio.org and nonprofit Voz Hispana Cambio Comunitario have set up a Facebook page that reads, "Jeff Sessions You’re not Welcome Here!!”

The protest is planned for his arrival at the federal office in Northwest Portland, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Willamette Week first reported on Sessions’ trip.

Oregonian Staff Writers Jessica Floum and Rebecca Woolington contributed to this story.

— Maxine Bernstein

mbernstein@oregonian.com
503-221-8212
@maxoregonian

High waters from heavy rains flooded several spots on Interstate 84 and Interstate 5 on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
A 53-year-old man who is seeking asylum in the United States after surviving an assassination attempt by a violent drug cartel in Mexico was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Wednesday for sale of large quantities of methamphetamine in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. (Dave Killen|Staff)

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