Oregon Governor: Illegal Aliens Are 'The Heart and Soul of Our Culture...The Backbone of Our Economy'

By Susan Jones | July 6, 2021 | 7:32am EDT
Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency should provide aid and assistance to undocumented families who lose their homes in wildfires.

Brown was among the Western governors who joined a conference call with President Biden last week to discuss wildfires and other disasters they blame on climate change.

On Sunday, Brown told CBS's "Face the Nation" that a million-plus acres and 4,000 homes burned in Oregon a year ago:

In short, we need resources and we need boots on the ground. For example, we need financial resources to be able to purchase critical, essential equipment, like aircraft, to help us fight fire. We need to make sure that we have adequate boots on the ground.

Senator Wyden's done a good job fighting for the state of Oregon to get us financial resources to be able to train our National Guardsmen and women ahead of time so they can support our firefighting efforts.

But it also means that agencies, like FEMA, who do not aid our undocumented families, we need to make sure that that happens. So, for example, of the families that lost homes in southern Oregon last Labor Day fire, several hundred of them were undocumented.

FEMA does not provide aid or assistance to these families. It is absolutely unacceptable. These families are so much a part of our communities. They're the heart and soul of our culture. And they are the backbone of our economy. They deserve the assistance. And they need it.

Brown said her state has been trying to prepare for climate change "for a number of years," but the recent, unprecedented heatwave shows there is more work to do:

"That includes working with our health partners that provide health care to vulnerable Oregonians, to make sure that they understand that there are resources available, for example, to buy an air conditioner if they have certain underlying health conditions," she said.

"And what is really, really clear that, just like we saw during the pandemic, throughout these emergency events, our communities of color, our low-income families are disproportionately impacted and we have to center the voices of black and brown and indigenous people at the forefront of our work as we do emergency preparedness," Brown said.

Oregon in 1987 passed a law making itself a sanctuary state, which means state and local law enforcement may not use public resources to arrest or detain people whose only crime is being in the country illegally.

An attempt to repeal the law failed in 2018.

Last month, the Oregon House passed a bill strengthening sanctuary provisions for undocumented people living in Oregon.

Among other things, the bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies or public bodies from "denying services, benefits, privileges or opportunities to certain individuals on basis of federal civil immigration actions, inquiring about individual's citizenship status without connection to criminal investigation or providing information about individual in custody to federal immigration authority."

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