I am voting “no” on Measure 105 for three main reasons. One, because I am opposed to racial profiling and discrimination. Two, because our local law enforcement should not spend money from their limited budgets to do the job of federal immigration agents. And three, because I believe in a united Oregon where everyone feels safe regardless of their skin color, background or national origin.
If you’re unfamiliar with Measure 105, it aims to overturn the state’s sanctuary law, which prevents local law enforcement from using resources to enforce immigration law. Removing this restriction is not a good idea, especially when we remember the circumstances that led to its adoption in the first place.
In 1977, Delmiro Trevino, a U.S. citizen of Latino origin, was one of several men accosted by Polk County sheriff’s deputies and forcefully questioned about his citizenship status at a restaurant in Independence. The deputies carried out their actions without identifying themselves and without a warrant.
Trevino and several other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to highlight a growing trend of racial profiling by local law enforcement agencies across the state. The lawsuit was dismissed, but it brought attention to the problem and helped pave the way for legislative action.
In 1987, Republican and Democratic state legislators came together to overwhelmingly pass the Oregon sanctuary law 58-1 in the House and 29-1 in the Senate. It aimed to combat racial profiling and prevent situations such as the one Trevino had to endure.
Removing this law would once again open the door for racial profiling. It would indiscriminately target Latinos, such as myself. To my knowledge, Caucasians are not asked about their immigration status; why should I be? Voting “no” on 105 ensures we are all treated equally and that no particular group is singled out.
If Measure 105 passes there could also be financial consequences for our communities if local police — already under tight budgets and understaffed — are diverted to immigration work. Voting “no” on 105 ensures that immigration enforcement is left to the federal government and that local police continue to focus on keeping us safe.
One of the biggest misconceptions often tied to the idea of a sanctuary law is that it shields immigrants who commit felonies and other serious crimes. This is false. A sanctuary law does not protect individuals who commit crimes. If you vote “no” on 105, local law enforcement will continue to hold everyone accountable for their crimes, including both immigrants and nonimmigrants.
For me, this is an issue of human dignity and compassion for our fellow Oregonians.
Passage of Measure 105 would negatively impact a lot of good people. This includes people you know, because they are your neighbors and people you work with. They are the families you see at school when you drop off your children, or those you nod to and greet at the supermarket. Some of them are your friends and possibly even family members. Measure 105 would negatively affect people from all walks of life directly and indirectly. Some of the impact is apparent, but the most damaging impact is often invisible and only manifested in the psyche of the community.
In my five years as executive director of the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council, I have worked with and gotten to know hundreds of Latino families who live on the North Coast. Like many of the Scandinavian families that came before them, Latino families moved to this area to work hard and build a better life for their families. Some have said they initially struggled to find their footing within the broader community, but after years of living here, many have started to feel included. Measure 105 threatens to disrupt that sense of community and replace it with fear.
This is apparent when you speak directly with Latino community members.
For a high school student from Warrenton who identifies as half Hispanic and half Caucasian, the consequences would be felt by her family. “My skin is white, my English is perfect. As you see me Measure 105 would not affect me at all, but I am only 15 years old and have a father who has brown skin. If this measure passes I fear my father could be deported.”
Another high school student, a 16-year-old who attends Seaside High School, says, “If this measure is passed it will not only affect me and my family, but also the whole Hispanic community. This measure is cruel and not Oregonian.”
A Hispanic man from Astoria — a skilled tradesman, husband and father — adds “there is already a lot of fear within the Hispanic community, and if Measure 105 passes this would add to that fear. Some families may be too afraid to send their children to school, or take them to the doctor when they are sick.”
A Latina woman from Seaside who works directly with the Latino community says, “It’s heartbreaking to see the fear some immigrant folks are experiencing in the current political climate. Measure 105 poses a threat not only to the Oregon families it would persecute, but also to the local economies that thrive because of the honest and hard work of the immigrant community.”
These are just a few of the many concerned voices from the North Coast who are urging the public to vote “no” on 105.
I firmly believe that regardless of your background or whether you came from another state or country, if you live in Oregon, you are an Oregonian. We should all stand together, united as Oregonians, because unity and inclusiveness are part of our values. Voting “no” on 105 will reaffirm those values and I hope that you join me in standing up for our neighbors, friends and family.
Jorge Gutierrez is executive director of the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council.