Multnomah County undersheriff poses with anti-immigrant leader
Por Richard Jones, El Hispanic News
Portland, OR — A photograph of two Oregon law enforcement officers with the president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) proved that one picture was worth several thousand spicy words.
The photo, featuring Multnomah County Undersheriff Tim Moore, OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll, and Morrow County Sheriff Kenneth Matlack was taken in late September near El Paso, Texas, and posted on OFIR’s Facebook page. Moore and Matlack had flown to El Paso to sit in on a number of seminars titled the “National Sheriffs Border School and Tour.”
The image drew criticism from a number of civil rights organizations because OFIR is listed as one of two Oregon contacts for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as one of the 1,018 hate groups in the United States.
OFIR members — or like-minded people — have also interrupted peaceful Latino demonstrations by shouting racial slurs in Portland and Salem.
According to Lt. Mark Matsushima, a training unit manager at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office, Moore and Matlack were in Texas for a two-day stint of seminars. Matsushima said that the seminar leaders were respected law enforcement officers from across the country and that none of them were associated with FAIR.
In a press release, Causa Oregon Executive Director Francisco López asked rhetorically, “Is Moore the right man for this job considering he is having ideological ties with an anti-immigration group?”
López urged further investigation of the leadership at the sheriff’s office.
“This makes the Latino and immigrant communities very uncomfortable knowing that a top official from Multnomah County would attend such an event,” he said.
Matsushima, whose grandfather immigrated to the U.S., said, “We try to build trust of immigrants.” He noted that the sheriff’s office does not deal with immigration and that anyone, citizen or not, should report any threats to the sheriff’s office.
Matsushima provided an expense account of Moore’s trip to El Paso. The expenses for travel, lodging, car rental, and other services came from the Multnomah County budget. Moore’s expenses appeared moderate, neither luxurious nor low budget. Matsushima noted that some sponsors typically pick up some food costs during conferences.
Sheriff Staton responds
On Sept. 26, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton released a response to the charges that Moore had been too cozy with a hate group member.
The release quoted Staton as saying, “I want to be clear that [neither] Undersheriff Moore, nor I, nor the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office are members of or affiliated with either the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) or Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR). Further, we do not endorse any ideology or agenda specific to these groups. I sent the Undersheriff on official business specific to information gathering regarding border security issues that will inform me on local public safety issues including local immigration enforcement, drug abatement, and human trafficking.”
The release noted that the Sheriff’s staff members have been in touch with groups such as the ACLU of Oregon, AFSCME Local 88, American Friends Service Committee, Causa, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, League of Women Voters of Portland, Northwest Workers Justice Project, Oregon New Sanctuary Movement, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition, Portland Jobs with Justice, Rural Organizing Project, SEIU Local 49, Safe Communities, Portland Human Rights Commission, and the Immigration Counseling Service.
To date Moore has apparently made no public comments about his actions in El Paso.
OFIR president speaks
In May of 2011, at a “pizza and politics” meeting at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Kendoll defined her position on immigration.
In an article in The Chemeketa Courier, staff writer Darren Pike caught the essence of her position, reporting, “Kendall (sic) went on to say that she recently was at the Oregon Legislature, waiting to testify, when a young man approached her and said that he had been brought to the United States from Mexico when he was 16 months old and that he didn’t think that it was fair for him to be punished. She said she told him that she was in her country, and he needed to return to his.”
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