Two weeks ago, 350 people crammed into Hillsboro’s city council chambers, many of them loudly demanding that Hillsboro declare itself a sanctuary city. The Hillsboro Tribune’s Travis Loose called it “mayhem,” you can watch the meeting yourself and decide what you’d like to call it.

Last night’s meeting did not have that kind of attendance: most of the seats in the Shirley Huffman Auditorium were empty. But city officials made preparations, just in case. There was a significant police presence in the atrium before the meeting, and everyone who attended was handed a piece of paper explaining that the vote on the matter is taking place on March 7.

Mayor Steve Callaway repeated the point.

“We will not be deliberating about or taking a vote about whether to designate Hillsboro a sanctuary city tonight,” said Callaway. “Disruption of the city council meeting will not be tolerated.”

In spite of all this preparation, or perhaps because of it, there were no interruptions of the council meeting. The sanctuary issue was not discussed until the public comment portion, which lasted nearly 45 minutes. Here are just a few quotes from local residents who choose to speak.

  • “I believe the way we’re going now, the political environment, we should not be giving in to special interests. Hillsboro was always for everyone. And it wasn’t until the Latino thing that it was pushed to one group.”
  • “This city that I was born in is helping people live their life without fear, without having to worry that today is going to be the day that they’re deported.”
  • “Why are we going through this exercise, upsetting people, when the obvious is obvious. I don’t get it. I’m old, but I don’t get it. Life is getting worse. You young people, you know, it’s a mess.”
  • “Sanctuary cities have lower rates of crime or about the same. All the studies show there is no increase in crime. All it will do is provide trust from the community.”

The full council session should be available for steaming later this week, if you want to see these and other quotes in context.

Any vote on whether Hillsboro declares itself a sanctuary city is largely symbolic, as Hillsboro police officers already do not enforce immigration laws; state law in Oregon already forbids this. Symbolic or not, council’s decision on March 7 will send a clear message to residents. Stay tuned.

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