Statement from Commissioner Loretta Smith on the vote to support the Immigrant Protection Project

March 17, 2017

On March 16,  the Board of County Commissioners took the crucial step of investing additional resources to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees in Multnomah County.  With a 5-0 vote we moved $100,000 from the County’s contingency fund to support a project that will provide legal services and education for immigrants and refugees.

New federal immigration enforcement procedures have created an environment of fear throughout our community. Our friends and neighbors are being subjected to invasive -- and sometimes deceptive -- practices that make it impossible for them to feel safe in their own homes. The need to protect our community has never been more critical.

And given recent developments at the federal level, including those that prompted a federal court to block the President’s travel ban yesterday, the need for action at the local level to protect vulnerable community members couldn’t be more urgent.

Commissioner Loretta Smith

I am shocked and outraged when I hear that community members are preparing for the well-being of their children in the event they are deported. As a mother, I find it unconscionable that the federal government would forcibly separate a parent from their children.

I am proud to be a member of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners as we took steps to invest in a timely and important community program.  A special thanks to Lane Berg and Representative Ann Lininger of the Metropolitan Public Defenders who took the lead on this project. An additional thanks to all of our non-profit partners who will be engaging in this important work.

Multnomah Public Defenders worked hard to find multiple partners - public and philanthropic - to fund this project.  Being creative with our funds and leveraging the contributions of the County is critical to being a good steward of the public dollar.

Congratulations to all those inside and outside the County building who worked to make this timely investment to protect our most vulnerable neighbors.