In the seven weeks since I took office, our nation has experienced two rash, divisive executive orders targeting our immigrant and refugee communities. These orders undermine our foundation as a nation of immigrants and diverse people from all over the world. They erode trust in the safety of our law enforcement, schools and government - some of the most integral components of our society. And they threaten our standing in the world as refuge from authoritarian governments.
Multnomah County is home to over 45,000 immigrants and refugees from all parts of the globe. In District 3, immigrants and refugees are part of the fabric that makes a diverse and vibrant community. Migration is a human right and is part of my family’s history on both sides.
My grandfather emigrated from Mexico and ultimately landed in northwest Indiana. He was able to provide for his family with the income earned from his job in the steel mill industry. Because of his hard work, his children and his grandchildren were able to attend college and become leaders in their chosen fields.
When I recently heard of increased immigration enforcement activity in Multnomah County, my concern stemmed not only from my personal family history, but also from my role as a mother and leader in my community. It’s my job to help our families feel safe and protected from discrimination. It’s my job to work closely with community-based organizations working on the frontlines of immigrant rights advocacy.
I take this responsibility seriously. Over the past month, I have worked closely with stakeholders in the immigrant and refugee community. While we cannot change federal policies, there are things we can do at the local level to address this issue. Together we have moved forward on:
- Sponsoring a resolution declaring Multnomah County an inclusive community.
- Submitting a letter to our congressional delegation requesting ICE “safe spaces” include courthouses.
- Partnering with organizations to expand access to affordable legal resources.
We are a welcoming and inclusive community that will not stand for exclusionary policies or practices that harm our neighbors, relatives, students, or workers. I am proud to stand by Chair Kafoury, Sheriff Reese, and my fellow Commissioners in reiterating our commitment to a welcoming and inclusive community, where all are treated with the dignity and respect that we deserve.