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home : opinions : opinions January 16, 2019


10/31/2018 8:11:00 AM
We all come from somewhere
By Josh Berger


I appreciate the recent editorials and letters about immigrants in The Nugget. I write today as the grandchild of immigrants, as a concerned American, Oregonian, and neighbor here in Sisters Country.

Honestly, I'm frightened by what I see. When the President refers to immigrants as "animals," he is using the language of racism and genocide.

Words matter. Hitler referred to Jewish people as "rats" - a way to make them seem less human, so that other Germans would feel better about exterminating them. My grandparents survived the Holocaust; my grandmother was the only one in her family to live.

It goes beyond words. Today the U.S. government is building detention centers, separating children from their parents, and jailing asylum-seekers before their cases are even adjudicated.

Nearly 13,000 children are being held in immigration custody, including prison camps and tent cities. This is the highest level of detention since the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Under current regulations, it's illegal to detain children longer than 20 days. Officials have not followed the law, established by an agreement known as the Flores settlement. But with Flores in place, there is hope for improving the situation and holding officials accountable.

The Flores settlement is under attack by the Trump administration. If the President's plans go through, U.S. officials will be able to legally detain children and their parents for months or years.

The administration also wants to do away with a law that protects child victims of human trafficking.

Many of my friends and neighbors - Republican, Democrat, and non-affiliated - have talked to me about this as a moral crisis.

Our Congressman here in Oregon District 2, Greg Walden, sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. This powerful committee oversees funding to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is in charge of these children.

Mr. Walden is one of the few people in government (or anywhere else) who could take decisive, positive action on this matter. Instead, he seems content to toe the President's line.

Here in the state I love, where I have lived for 44 years, there is another threat. Measure 105 would end Oregon's bipartisan "sanctuary" law.

What exactly does the sanctuary law do? It doesn't allow undocumented immigrants to do as they please in Oregon.

Instead, it makes sure that the federal government must use its funds to enforce federal immigration law. It keeps our state police, whose salaries are paid through state taxes, out of that business.

State police are in the business of serving and protecting our citizens. They investigate crimes like murder and burglary, then arrest suspects - regardless of their immigration status.

Sanctuary laws also reduce racial profiling. Ours was signed into law in 1987, and has been working well ever since. Now it is under threat.

What can we do about all this? We can start by voting no on Measure 105. Then we can vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Congress. She has demonstrated a nuanced, balanced approach to immigration reform.

Governor Kate Brown stands by our existing sanctuary law. Her Republican challenger, on the other hand, says the law should be repealed. She isn't perfect, but Kate Brown deserves our vote.

We can also make our voices heard on the President's plan to replace the Flores settlement. The public comment period ends soon.

What else can we do? We can look into our family backgrounds and learn from our own histories. Most Americans have an immigrant story. Before we call newer arrivals animals, let's make sure we know our own stories. We all come from somewhere.







Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018
Article comment by: R. J. Jones

For those who might want to know how...
To comment on the planned attempt to replace the Flores Settlement Agreement, read all about it (or some...)
and use the [comment now] button on the top right
at
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ICEB-2018-0002-0001

Excellent opinions, Mr. Berger, and clearly presented. Thank you.




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