Immigration reform, not discrimination, is needed
A simplistic view of immigration can be tempting given decades of federal mismanagement of our borders as well as grave concerns for our safety in light of growing international terrorism.
Some essentially declare in frustration: Lets seal our borders, force everyone to speak English and round up the illegals and ship em home!
Racism is an evil human tendency, which I must resist. It can be as blatant as slavery. It can also creep up on a society or into ones heart under the cover of fear.
Fellow lawmakers, some of whom I know well and respect, have announced their intention to promote so called immigration reform policies. I disagree with their approach and will vigorously oppose their efforts.
Taking the failures of this White House (and several previous ones) out on our neighbors and friends in Oregon is hardly the way to fix a global problem. I agree, we have an American culture and traditions that are memorable and worthy of respect. Hallmarks range from the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, to Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation. From Mark Hatfields success in restoring every Oregon Native-American tribes rights, to Martin Luther Kings I have a dream, we cherish landmarks in this great American melting pot.
Vigorous debate is fundamental to our republic. I repeat that many of legislators supporting these measures are honorable leaders and friends of mine. Yet, there are numerous reasons for opposing their proposal. And there is a fundamental flaw in their strategy.
The individuals and organization that have again masterminded and promoted these objectionable proposals, sadly have a reputation of racism. There are consistent and vigorous claims of non-discrimination but when considering the literature, rhetoric and track record of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, Im reminded of Shakespeares phrase: Methinks thou doth protest too much.
Their spokesman was quoted this way: Theyre dividing the fabric of the community by not learning to speak English. Were not discriminating against any particular group. We just feel learning English would be important if you want to become a citizen.
A common language for communication is an admirable goal. But why not promote English, bilingual education and additional language skills in our schools? Additionally, why not encourage adult education venues to address language and cultural differences and promote understanding and unity?
Largely as a result of a failed federal immigration policy, we have undocumented workers in our state who are proven hard-working citizens and trusted friends. If you choose to ignore the reality of generations of immigrants who are valued members of our community and economy, then who is really dividing the fabric of Oregon with frustrated misdirected policies at the state level?
I support a new focus on future federal standards of border safety. I will oppose clandestine discrimination cloaked in immigration reform that will make life more difficult for Oregon families with rich histories here and abroad. Lets unite and raise the local bar of tolerance and understanding that results in a safer and stronger Oregon.
Vic Gilliam is state representative for House District 18, which spans from Aurora to Silverton.