Thursday, July 19, 2018

Oregon To Vote On Sanctuary Status

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The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced this week that an initiative to repeal the state's "sanctuary" status has qualified for the November ballot.

Opponents of allowing the people to vote on the important issue are organizing, and they include some big-name companies and brands ---like Nike and Columbia Sportswear.

The looming question, in my mind, is why would they not want citizens to vote on an important issue like this one?

The Oregonian is reporting, "A ballot measure to repeal Oregon's sanctuary state status will go before voters in November, the Secretary of State's office confirmed Tuesday."

"If passed," the Oregonian says, "the ballot measure would undo a 1987 law that prohibits the use of state and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration standard."

Oregon's sanctuary law is the oldest in the nation and one of only a handful of similarly broad laws in the US.

Ironically Oregon, one of the most liberal, so-called "progressive blue" states in the country, will now likely be ground zero for a national immigration debate this fall.

The group behind the initiative, "Oregonians for Immigration Reform," has been listed as an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The leader of the group, Cynthia Kendoll, says they are not a "hate group" at all, they just believe the people have a right to vote on the issue.

Why did Oregon become a sanctuary state in the first place?

The 1987 sanctuary law prohibits state agencies from inquiring about a person's immigration status if they haven't committed another crime in addition to being in the US illegally and bans state and local law enforcement from coordinating with federal immigration officials on raids and roundups.

The law grew out of an episode in the Oregon town of Independence, where officers singled out a group of Latino men in a restaurant and interrogated them about their citizenship status.

Advocates of the law say it was passed to address racial profiling, and not to make a political statement about immigration.

Why would anyone oppose allowing citizens to vote on an important issue?

Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa, an immigrant rights group who heads up the opposition to this initiative, says at the time it was passed "Oregon legislators said that's not the Oregon way and they also said it's not a good use of our resources."

She says, "It's critical to remind voters this was passed for a real reason in our state and if we take it away, it would take us back to a time when Oregonians weren't treated fairly."

She says, "This ballot measure will ask voters to throw out the state law that protects all Oregonians, including immigrant Oregonians, from racial profiling."

And she says, "We're confident that Oregon values of fairness and looking out for our neighbors will prevail..."

In a statement released Tuesday of this week her coalition group "Oregonians United Against Profiling" said NIKE, Columbia Sportswear, the Portland Timbers and Thorns soccer teams have also come out with her against Initiative 22.

But she doesn't answer the question, why she and her now high profile allies oppose the notion of citizens voting on this issue---or any issue?

Why would the group who sponsored the Initiative want to advance racist profiling, and not want fairness?

The sponsoring group says they are not racist, nor do they advocate unfairness, or not looking out for one's neighbor.

Cynthia Kendoll, the group's president, says that because Oregon's state legislature is controlled by Democrats, a voter initiative is the only way to change immigration law.

She and her allies believe strongly in citizen participation.

Kendoll's group was involved in a 2014 ballot measure campaign that successfully overturned a law passed by the Oregon lawmakers to give driver's licenses to immigrants illegally in the country.

She says, "The only thing this initiative does is give the voters the opportunity to decide if Oregon will be a sanctuary state or not---and they either will or they won't."

"We're working on giving people the chance to vote on this. Voters very rarely have an opportunity to have a say in immigration policy," she says.

This matter will draw activists and money---lots of money, from around the country. The case will be made through media saturation that a vote for the initiative, is a vote against everything that is decent and fair and right and moral and Christian.

Hopefully, it will also spark similar actions in other states where initiative opportunities exist.

But the real issue is, should citizens be given the opportunity to vote on matters of this importance?

Should the people have the right to express themselves at the ballot box?

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us all:
"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressman and government officials, but the voters of this country."

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Active. Be Prayerful.