School sanctuary policies set poor example for students: Guest opinion

Article author: 
Sal Esquivel, guest columnist
Article publisher:
Article date: 
Friday, June 1, 2018
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Supporters of illegal-immigrant sanctuary policies are notorious for employing emotion over logic. Matt Reed's commentary ("Providing sanctuary in schools isn't enough," May 25) is a spot-on example.

Reed, a teacher at Beaverton School District's Westview High, relates the story of a student's father detained for a violation of immigration law "by a federal government increasingly hostile toward immigrants." (As do many sanctuary advocates, Reed refers to people here illegally merely as "immigrants," a semantic sleight of hand designed to conflate legal with illegal immigrants and thereby to cast immigration-law enforcement as an attack on all immigrants)

But Reed is wrong.  A "hostile" government is not responsible for the father's predicament. The father is. He knew the potential consequence of violating immigration law and took the chance to do so nonetheless. He himself -- not a government doing its duty in enforcing the law -- inflicted what Reed decries as an "immense emotional and mental toll" on his son.

"Our schools need to be . . . sanctuaries," Reed wrote. Wrong again. School districts are not sovereign entities unto themselves. As do all American institutions, they have responsibilities to the nation of which they are a part. One of those responsibilities is to inculcate in students respect for that nation's laws, and for the representative democracy by which Americans make those laws.

When schools adopt sanctuary policies, they do the opposite. They sow contempt for the United States' sovereignty and the laws that safeguard that sovereignty. They teach that one should have impunity to violate laws one opposes or finds inconvenient.  And they teach that open defiance of law is an acceptable way to seek change.

How will this help mold children into responsible adult citizens? How will this impact the safety and stability of the country our youths will grow up in and someday lead?

Like the father of Reed's student, my father too was born abroad -- in Mexico. But he went through the legal process to come to and remain in the U.S.  By doing so, he demonstrated respect for the sovereignty, law and citizens of his new country.  His noble example, and the lesson it taught me, has guided me throughout my life.  

In my nearly 14 years in the Oregon legislature, I have been at the forefront of efforts to compel our state government to respect and support U.S. immigration law. This year, I'm a chief sponsor of a campaign to place a measure on the November ballot to repeal Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, the state's illegal-immigrant sanctuary law.  I urge registered voters to sign our petition.

Oregonians charge public schools with the education of their children. And, in regard to American laws, those schools need to set a responsible adult example. That is rejecting illegal-immigrant sanctuary policies and demonstrating instead support for the laws Americans have enacted to protect their nation.

Hundreds gathered last year at the State Capitol to support upholding Oregon's sanctuary law. Rep. Sal Esquivel writes that he's against the decades-old law and is currently working on ballot initiative to repeal it. (Anna Marum/2017)

-- Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, represents District 6 in the Oregon House of Representatives. His petition can be found at