DiGrande: Why I'll vote 'yes' on Ballot Measure 105
Ballot Measure 105 seeks to repeal what is commonly referred to as Oregon's "sanctuary law." This is a misnomer. The law does not offer sanctuary. What it does is prohibit Oregon law enforcement agencies from using monies, equipment or personnel to enforce federal immigration laws. However, it does allow agencies to exchange arrest information with federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Let's 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 in Oregon illegally that they are safe from deportation. This is not the message we should be sending. Illegal immigrants need to know that all our laws — local, state and federal — will be enforced equally. To do otherwise invites discord within our community.
There are legal, economic and moral reasons why our immigration laws are written as they are. There is a large population of illegal immigrants in the United States (up to 22 million, as recently estimated by a Yale University study). Their impact on our country is significant. By living and working here, they are breaking numerous laws. Using a false Social Security number in order to work is considered criminal fraud. As well, employers can be held liable for hiring illegal immigrants. Wages are depressed for law-abiding workers by those illegal immigrants who will work for much less. And their use of public benefits places an economic strain on resources like schools and health care.
Recently, the City of Portland approved an ordinance that grants $500,000 for attorneys to represent illegal immigrants 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. We seem to be so concerned about the rights of illegal immigrants, 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 suggest that our local law enforcement officials will institute racial profiling should Measure 105 pass is a false argument. We have evolved over the years.
The approval of Measure 105 may allow a closer working relationship between Oregon law enforcement and U.S. immigration authorities. Washington County cooperates fully with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Why can't we do the same with ICE?
Read the commentary submitted by Washington County's sheriff and district attorney on why they oppose Measure 105, published Aug. 15, 2018.
Some argue that local law enforcement's closer cooperation with federal agencies would keep illegal immigrants from coming forward and reporting crimes. That may very well happen. That was the risk they took by coming here illegally.
America is a generous, caring country. We seek to shelter those who, for reasons of political strife or humanitarian crisis abroad, need our protection. We welcome many who apply for asylum. We welcome those who would emigrate here legally. Unfortunately, however, we simply cannot accommodate all 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 look the other way 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 serves on the board of directors of the Washington County Sheriff's Office Foundation.
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