Uncle Tom’s Senator
According to the Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet, John Verbeek believes that the Declaration of Independence along with the Constitution was “decisive progress on the fair way of individual political rights under limited government.” He isn’t wrong about that notion, though his perception of the context of the “progress” set in motion by those documents seems a little rosy.
The Declaration, which pledged and affirmed that all [people] are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, somehow ignored the rights of the peasant class. Without a landless working class, curiously excluded by the Founders in practice, to provide labor, America’s economy wouldn’t have been the powerhouse that it was.
With the success of the American economic engine came the atrocious working conditions and government-sanctioned human rights abuses that also spawned civil rights movements which, in turn, expanded freedoms to previously marginalized populations. America has slowly recognized that all people have rights and, begrudgingly, things have changed for the better on some fronts. Despite the increased freedom, perspectives remain the same or similar to Segregation-era America, the one that prefers to push its social ills out of sight, first to the suburbs, then to the inner city, more recently back to the suburbs, and now some hope to evict a small subset entirely.
Verbeek, who supports requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship fails to take into account the economic impact that would have on states like Oregon which depend on the labor of migrant workers, just so he can preserve our “country of citizens, with the rule of law.”
The rule of law that Verbeek would have Oregon enforce is ORS 181.850. The 30-year-old law was enacted in 1987 because Oregon legislators like Rocky Barilla, who introduced the bill, decided that what was best for Oregon was to refuse to enforce federal laws for the federal government, especially those that put strain on the state budget. The bill passed the Oregon Senate 29 to 1, passed the House 58-1, and was signed into law on July 7, 1987.
Now the current administration is trying to purge America of its so-called illegal immigrants in order to safeguard the “country of citizens, with the rule of law.” We are coming upon another expansion of freedom in our collective history and people like John Verbeek need to awaken to the hypocrisy of their rhetoric and the deleterious effects its codification would have on society and the economy.