The Associated Students of the University of Oregon Senate passed a resolution in October opposing Measure 105, which would remove limits on the resources that state and local law enforcement agencies can use for finding and arresting people whose only suspected crime is violating federal immigration law.
The resolution contends Measure 105 would violate an ASUO Senate resolution from Nov. 2017 that declared the University of Oregon to be a sanctuary campus. It also stated that the measure would instill fear in the thousands of international students and students of color at UO and therefore disrupt their learning environment.
UO students Yomaira Tarula and Hector Gonzalez brought the resolution to the Senate on behalf of M.E.Ch.A. — el Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos Aztlán — a student organization that “seeks to provide a feeling of community and security, while increasing the recruitment and retention of Oregon Chicanos in higher education,” according to its website.
Tarula said she knew M.E.Ch.A should do something to oppose Measure 105 and that the Senate’s sanctuary campus resolution provided an entryway for them to receive support from the university.
“I know that us young people really have the power to change a lot for our futures,” said Tarula. “So I was really just trying to think and organize how I can bring that power on campus since we have a huge population of young people that can vote.”
Tarula and Gonzalez first brought a draft of the resolution to ASUO senator Andrea Castillo, who was an intern for M.E.Ch.A last year and served as the Senate sponsor for the resolution. Castillo then worked with fellow senators Montse Mendez and Lupe Partida to prepare the resolution for presentation to the Senate, which unanimously passed it at their meeting on Oct. 24.
“The university Senate said that we are a sanctuary campus,” said Castillo. “So when it came to Measure 105, it was really important for students to be able to come to Senate to say, regardless of what happens, we need to know that you all don’t support taking away that sanctuary state law.”
M.E.Ch.A. invited about 30 UO students whose wellbeing is threatened by the passage of Measure 105 to the Senate meeting. Some of these students carried signs with messages, such as “Immigrants are America” and “No one is illegal. Everyone is equal,” and others spoke to the Senate about how the measure will affect them.
One student stated, “This isn’t a political issue, this is a humanitarian one,” before describing how her father was arrested and forced to stay in an ICE detention office in Washington, even though he had his green card on him. Other students talked about the fear they would experience if Oregon was no longer a sanctuary state, with one student saying, “We don’t want to remain silent, because silence is violence.”
Castillo said she wasn’t aware of the number of students M.E.Ch.A had invited to the meeting and that she was impressed by the large turnout.
“It was really amazing for me to be able to see how many people were willing to be vulnerable, even though they shouldn’t have had to put themselves in a vulnerable position,” she said.
In addition to the Senate’s approval, M.E.Ch.A’s resolution received endorsements from 21 other student groups at UO who represent various minority and international students.
Tarula said that she reached out to these students and student groups because she felt it was important to include other voices in the opposition to Measure 105. She also hoped that the resolution and the work of M.E.Ch.A would encourage more students to take an active role in opposing the measure.
“We’re really trying to empower students to be aware of the issue and do work around it — whether that’s phone banking, canvassing and voting especially,” said Tarula. “I just want to encourage students to really stay informed on issues that don’t directly affect you but affect the rest of the Oregon community. A lot of these ballot measures will affect vulnerable populations who are sometimes unable to vote, so if you have the privilege, use it.”