Opinion column: Vote 'yes' on Measure 105
Oregon ballot Measure 105 seeks to repeal what is commonly referred to as Oregon's "sanctuary law." This is a misnomer. This law does not offer sanctuary. What it does is prohibits Oregon law enforcement agencies from using moneys, equipment or personnel to enforce federal immigration laws. However, it does allow state agencies the discretion to exchange arrest information with federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Now is a good time to carefully review and consider the impact this law has on our state. At a minimum, with the popular message of sanctuary, it can give the impression to those entering Oregon illegally to believe they are safe from deportation. This is not the message we should be sending. Illegal immigrants need to know that all of our laws — local, state and federal — will be enforced equally. To do otherwise only invites discord within our community.
One example is the 2014 ruling of Federal Judge Janice Stewart regarding an ICE hold request, which states: ICE holds cannot be performed without a warrant issued by a judge. This reinforces and upholds rights guaranteed by our Constitution and, by inclusion, the Bill of Rights. And, rightfully so. The discord? One hundred-twenty illegal aliens were sponsored to cross into the United States from Mexico by Oregon's Dream Act activist, an undocumented-led organization. Only in America can a group of self-identified illegal aliens celebrate a Fourth Amendment protection by flaunting our immigration laws.
There are legal, economic and moral reasons why our immigration laws are written as they are. With a large population of illegals in the United States. (up to 22 million as recently estimated by a Yale University study) the impact on our country can be significant. By living and working in the United States, they are by nature breaking numerous laws. Using a false Social Security number in order to work is considered criminal fraud. Plus employers can be held liable for hiring illegals. Wages are depressed for law-abiding workers by those illegals who will work for much less. Using public benefits places an economic strain on our resources, such as schools and health care.
Recently, the city of Portland approved an ordinance that grants $500,000 to pay for attorneys to represent illegals at deportation hearings. That grant is drawn from the city's general fund, which primarily pays for police and fire protection. Aside from taking dollars away from these important services, imagine what those dollars could do for those living on the streets in tents. I would venture to guess that a large population of those homeless could be housed in safe accommodations with use of those same dollars. We seem to be so concerned about the rights of illegals, but what about the rights of our dispossessed citizens?
Federal immigration laws are not racist. They are written to cover all peoples, regardless of origin. To think that our local law enforcement officials will institute racial profiling should Measure 105 pass is a false argument. We have evolved over the years. There are those who argue that assisting ICE will task their workload. If doing so will cause a work overload, perhaps the $500,000 spent on deportation hearings could be used for its original intent. There are those who argue that working with federal agencies may keep illegal aliens from coming forward and reporting crimes. That very well may happen. That was the risk they took by coming here illegally.
The approval of Measure 105 may allow a closer working relationship with local, state and federal agencies. After all, we do this with the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Why can't we do the same with ICE?
The United States is a magnet for immigration. Those wanting legal admittance may wait years to get to our shores. Those who come here illegally risk life and limb. Why? Simple: rule of law. They come for freedom, both personal and economic. They come for protection under our Constitution. They come for the very unique protections given by the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, there are many who disregard our laws and enter our country illegally. And, sadly, there are those who wish to shield them from our justice system, as Multnomah County Judge Monica Herranz (a sworn officer of the court) did in 2017 for helping an illegal alien escape ICE.
America is a generous and caring country. We seek to shelter those, who for reasons of political strife or humanitarian crisis abroad, need our protection. We welcome those who apply for asylum. We welcome those who would emigrate here legally to be part of our great nation. Unfortunately, we simply cannot accommodate all of those who would like to reside here. There are limits. As a sovereign nation, we have the right and obligation to protect our country from an uncontrolled influx of immigrants. To ignore this, to look the other way only invites the degradation of what makes our country the envy of the world.
Our responsibility as citizens is to uphold the rule of law as written in our Constitution. Only by upholding the rule of law, all laws, can we keep our community safe. I urge you to vote "yes" on Measure 105. A "yes" vote sends a message that we do care about the society in which we live and that we do care about protecting our country, our state, our citizens and the way of life we have all come to expect.
Salvatore DiGrande is a member of the board of the Washington County Sheriffs Foundation, and has volunteered with the Washington County Sheriff's Office for over 12 years as a member of the Enhanced Sheriff's Patrol District Advisory Committee. He lives in Cedar Hills.