Metro Councilor Juan Carlos Gonzalez recent received insulting messages on his Facebook page accusing him of being an illegal alien who should "hit the road," despite being born and raised in Washington County.
Gonzalez, the son of Mexican immigrants, blames the messages on President Donald Trump. "When the office of the President makes racist and xenophobic statements, it emboldens our neighbors to attack those of us that are 'foreign.' We need to call it for what it is," Gonzalez told the Portland Tribune in an email. "I'm born and raised in Oregon. But people like me are often made to feel like Oregon isn't my home."?
Gonzalez said people need to unite to counter such messages. "I ask that we all stand for one another. We are fighting for the soul of this country. We need each other. And I have faith we can be the Oregon and the America that has been promised to us," said Gonzalez.
Although Gonzalez is a first-generation American, one message said, "Time for you to go, your (sic) useless and do nothing but take our taxes and care nothing for how we live. Time to hit the road." Another said he was "not welcome in the majority of Oregon."
The messages appeared on Gonzalez's Metro Facebook page after the elected regional government posted a video denouncing the Trump administration's proposed new rules restricting access to public housing to undocumented immigrants and transgender people. The video was jointly made by Metro, the Oregon governor's office, the city of Portland and Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
Gonzalez shared a screenshot of the postings on social media. "I shared the content so that our constituents in the region could see that rhetoric at the national level impacts how we treat one another throughout the state," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was born in Forest Grove, grew up in Cornelius, and lives in Hillsboro. After graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in economics, he returned to Washington County to work at Centro Cultural, a nonprofit that empowers Latino families throughout the county. In 2018, Gonzalez was elected to District 4 on the Metro Council, the regional government post representing northern and western Washington County.
The U.S. House of Representative voted Tuesday, July 16, mostly along party lines to condemn President Trump for tweeting that four members who are women of color should "go back" to where they came from, although only one was born outside the country.
You can read a previous Pamplin Media Group story on Gonzalez and other elected Hispanic leaders in Oregon here.
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