The immigrant experience in this country is as diverse as the people who have come here, as varied as our motivations for leaving our homelands. Yet for those of us who call Oregon our adopted home, or for whom Oregon is the only home we’ve ever known (like thousands of Dreamers), there is a common theme: We all want to be a part of a community in which everyone feels like they belong.
More than three decades ago, Oregon lawmakers made a bold move to ensure that our state welcomed people no matter what they looked like by enacting the state’s “Sanctuary Law.” This bipartisan act, which keeps local police out of the enforcement of federal immigration law, was the first in the country that aimed to eliminate racial profiling based on a person’s perceived immigration status. Measure 105 would discard this law that has served Oregon well since its inception. That is why the Oregon Center for Public Policy stands with over 300 coalition partners in saying the best way to keep Oregon safe is by voting NO on 105.
Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths; it is part of what defines us as a nation. Like many families before — including my own — today’s immigrants journey to the United States in search of a better life, and the freedom and opportunity it offers. Immigrants throughout Oregon and the United States work hard and do their part to make their communities better for everyone. Immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, give the economy a boost. In Marion County alone, undocumented immigrants pay more than $14 million in taxes every year to local and state authorities. Oregon is better for having immigrants, and will be better for it for generations to come.
If Measure 105 were to pass, it would open the door to racial profiling and make our communities less safe. Neighbors, friends, family members might be stopped by police simply because, in someone’s view, they look like an undocumented immigrant. Some immigrants could be too afraid to call the police and report a crime if they are victimized, are witness to a crime, or are in a domestic violence situation.
When I arrived in this country more than 30 years ago, I did so with a green card, along with the perceived protections it afforded me. And while I often felt different because of my accent or my complexion, I also felt that I was part of the community, that I could express my opinion on an issue (though I was not allowed to vote), that I could call for help in an emergency. It is important that America remain a beacon of hope and freedom for people all over the world. A place where people like me, and many others, do not live in fear of being harassed due to the color of their skin, their accent, or perceived immigration status.
In Oregon, we believe in fairness and looking out for each other. Measure 105 is contradictory to what our beloved state stands for. This November, please join me in voting no on Measure 105.