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OPINION: Standing Up for Sonoma County Immigrants

Mar 29, 2017


By Will Shonbrun

It’s happening all around. People in practically every state are standing up to the Trump mania of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, but not solely, and supporting their civil and human rights. These are counties and cities and they number into the hundreds.

Sonoma County, some of its cities and school districts have issued resolutions proclaiming they will not cooperate and participate in this attempt to vilify and expel a targeted population that most know as neighbors, friends or workmates. These used to be called sanctuary cities, but that term has become anathema for many because of federal threats of withholding federal monies. Whatever the current euphemisms popping up now, e.g., safe havens, indivisible cities, etc., it’s irrelevant as the meaning and intent is quite clear. We will not sit idly by while our brothers and sisters and their families are destroyed and being persecuted for the crime of seeking a better life.

While the resistance to this scapegoating of immigrants is evident on the part of individuals and some organizations in county, the absence of some of the county’s organizations of note – the wine industry and the Chambers of Commerce – stands out in stark contrast. I’ve seen not one word in any of our local papers by these business entities or their representatives in support of the immigrant community. Where are the employers of so many of these targeted people: vineyards and wineries, hospitality businesses, construction industry, landscaping companies and all the rest, when it comes to standing up for those very people who make those businesses possible?

Do these businesses think they are going to replace those who make their businesses flourish or even exist with American workers? These business owners are not stupid and they well know that they cannot replace the workforce they depend on. So why is there nothing but quiet from these quarters? It’s in their own self-interest to support and assist in viable ways those who are now in jeopardy of deportation. It is time for these rich industries to stand up and proclaim that will not let this assault on human rights go unanswered.

On a practical note there is funding needed for legal aid: immigrant’s rights attorneys, deportation attorneys and organizations to promote and distribute Know Your Rights information to those in need. This is not the time for charity balls or philanthropic photo-ops. This is the time to step up and put your money where it counts – aiding those who’ve made your businesses thrive. Now is the time to come to the aid of all the immigrants who live and work here regardless of your need or use for them, but because they’re part of the family of this community and their rights and dignity are our common bond. It’s time for you to speak up on their behalf.


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