Gov. Brown, Hispanic lawmakers vow to defend Latinos

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Hispanic members of the Legislature said they would defend Latinos in the state, including those who entered the country illegally.

In a ceremony Wednesday in Brown’s office marking Hispanic Heritage Month in Oregon, Brown denounced U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comments made to law enforcement officials in Portland a day earlier. Sessions urged locales whose police don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents to reconsider, and said federal grant money would be withheld from them.

Brown said those comments incite fear and chaos, and undermine Oregon’s work force and economy.

Rep. Teresa Alonso-Leon, the first immigrant to be elected to the Oregon Legislature, said Oregon’s Latino population has increased 72 percent since 2000 and the number of businesses owned by Latinos rose by 40 percent.

Meanwhile, Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5), along with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Peter DeFazio (OR-04) sent a letter Wednesday calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Portland Field Office to refrain from conducting mass, untargeted deportation raids, and to avoid targeting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, known as Dreamers, and their families.

“[The Administration’s recent announcement to eliminate DACA] has caused increased anxiety for many of our constituents including DACA recipients, community members, and business owners,” the Members wrote. “DACA recipients provide sensitive information to the Department of Homeland Security with the assurance that the information won’t be used against them and their families. DACA recipients go through DHS background checks and become contributing members of society. They deserve safety and peace of mind.”
At the beginning of this month, the Administration announced that it will no longer accept new applications to the DACA program, and will completely end the program in March of next year. There are currently more than 11,000 Dreamers in Oregon who add an estimated $605 million to the state’s economy. These young people and their families now face extreme fear and uncertainty.

The Members continued: “We are also concerned that ICE will conduct sweeping and untargeted deportation raids. Deportation raids are an ineffective tool that generate fear and insecurity in our communities. Conducting these raids deters children from attending school and parents from seeking medical services. It also leads to crimes going unreported. Additionally, our state’s economy will undoubtedly be affected if ICE increases its raids.”

The full letter can be found here.