The Multnomah County Sheriff is defending his decision to send a top officer to a U.S.-Mexico border training event hosted by an organization some consider to be a hate group.
The training hosted by The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) took place last week in El Paso, TX, and focused on issues like drug trafficking.
Cynthia Kendoll, President of the Oregonians For Immigration Reform, said the group educates the public about illegal immigration issues. She posted a photo to her organization's Facebook page showing Multnomah County Undersheriff Tim Moore, The Morrow County Sheriff and herself.
"I'm an optimist and I was thinking these two sheriffs would be applauded and saluted for standing up and going and learning and finding out how they can protect us," she said.
Instead, a report in Willamette Week questioned Moore's involvement in the program. The report cited the Southern Poverty Law Center's belief that FAIR is a hate group.
"That made me really unhappy to see that. It wasn't an anti-immigration training session," Kendoll said.
Training materials from the event showed a pattern of Mexican drug cartels that use the Interstate 5 corridor from Mexico to California, Oregon and Washington as a drug-moving route.
"The drugs, the deaths, the money laundering, the human trafficking. All of that was what we studied," Kendoll said.
Francisco Lopez, the executive director of Latino immigrant rights group CAUSA, said Moore's attendance at the form raises questions. He said FAIR's designation as a hate group "not made lightly, but based on a track record of groups like that.
"The biggest concern is that money - taxpayer dollars - to send a deputy to a training organized by a hate group," Lopez said.
Sheriff Dan Staton released a statement that said his office is not affiliated with the FAIR group and doesn't endorse their ideologies.
"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 statement said.
Staton also said he's seeking out local immigration organizations, like CAUSA, in his information gathering process.
But CAUSA representatives said immigration should be considered a federal issue, not a local one.
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