Oregon’s anti-immigration policies prompt reflection on grim history

Braelyn Swan, Staff writer

Oregon has a particularly long history of enacting anti-immigration acts and policies.

In today’s political climate, the topic of immigration has been a hot button topic, especially since the 2016 election. This political controversy has been affecting even the most seemingly blue states since the 1800’s.

Wednesday, Serena Cruz and Michelle Ganow-Jones held an Oregon immigration workshop to educate students on the anti-immigration policies of yesterday and today.

In a classroom in TJ Day Hall, a history of anti-immigration acts and groups from the 1800’s to 2017 were posted around the walls. Cruz and Ganow-Jones spoke for the One Oregon Coalition. One Oregon is a statewide coalition that fights against anti-immigration and anti-Muslim policies and ballot measures.

Cruz explained that in the 1970’s, an Oregon governor had a billboard posted on the California border that read “Come to Oregon, you can visit but don’t stay.”
After students had a chance to brush up on their Oregon history, they shared their thoughts on what they had read.

Senior Callie Nees noted how Oregon is seen as a democratic state but it really shows anti-immigration tendencies. Senior Mitchell Kekel noted how a large KKK group in Oregon had a huge impact on politics in the 1920’s.

History professor Thomas Mertes commented on how Oregon’s delegation has supported various federal anti-immigration acts.

Cruz explained that there there are some groups that have an ongoing connection with white supremacist groups and have neo-Nazi affiliations in Oregon.
There are currently two ballot measures gaining signatures right now: IP5 and IP22.

Ballot measure IP5 would require all Oregonians to re-register to vote with birth certificates. This would block many immigrants from being eligible to vote in Oregon in upcoming elections. Although this has received less signatures than IP22, it is still out there.

Ballot measure IP22 would remove protections established in 1922 that bar state officials from enforcing federal immigration laws. Cruz said, “One Oregon is putting IP22 into the context of systemic racism.”

A connection was made between these efforts and a group known as Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an anti-immigration organization in Oregon.
Sophomore April Alvarez commented that while attending the May Day March earlier that week, OFIR was a presence and approached marchers of varying English speaking abilities, to persuade them to provide signatures for IP22.

Cruz and Ganow-Jones are working with One Oregon to educate Oregonians on this issue so they can be aware of what is happening both in their own state and nationwide.