Rantz: Oregon quietly considers housing migrants, shuns attention of Texas, Florida
The Oregon Department of Human Services is quietly considering a program to house and care for illegal immigrants. One leader said they should be regarded as “welcome guests.”
Regional Emergency Coordinator Jeff Gilbert revealed the program in a Sept. 23 meeting with the Office of Resiliency Emergency Management (OREM) staff, according to a staff member speaking exclusively to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH under the condition of anonymity. It would provide some form of housing and case management for migrants awaiting asylum hearings. It would also, potentially, “exist in perpetuity.”
But there are fears that border governors may see it as an invitation to send planes of migrants to the state.
“Today, it is being shared with the governor’s office to see … if our governor wishes to endorse a plan moving forward to provide mass care for these [inaudible], and coordinate with other state agencies to welcome these families to Oregon for permanent settlement,” Gilbert said on an audio recording provided to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH by a concerned staffer.
On the audio clip, the man identified as Gilbert said they must still work out some details regarding the program. They realize, for example, that OREM is not staffed to handle an influx of migrants. He said, “there are at least 250 families that we’re aware of in the last two weeks that have come here, and innumerable families from Ukraine that are already here in Oregon.”
Consequently, they will need considerable funding to take on this “mission.”
“So there’s a possibility that this list could be very large. And that would result in funding to make this program occur. And a great deal of staffing because our team does not have the capacity to staff this,” he warned on the audio clip.
It wasn’t the only warning.
Don’t let Texas and Florida know
Gilbert acknowledges that migrants have flooded border states since the Biden administration ended Title 42, according to the audio recording. The Trump-era policy allowed the United States to expel migrants coming from a country where an infectious disease — in this case, COVID — was present.
“Some of the governors of border states have taken it into their discretion to physically moving people via bus and or most recently by plane to other states,” he states, according to the audio recording. “And that’s being viewed in a very, like, political reprisal type of way. Right? And you’ve seen maybe some of the banter nationally regarding arguments between governor to governor, governor to mayors, and unfortunately, it treats these folks that are coming in as if they were a pawn, right, as if they were not human to be treated, right, they’re just being moved as if there were an object. And that’s created a lot of national conversation.”
There is also concern that if word got out about Oregon’s efforts, should they be approved, they’d see an influx of migrants.
“We’re also very not shouting from the rooftops, so to speak, until all of this is properly vetted. Because the last thing that we would like to do is to attract a great deal of attention on a possible mission. And then have that be picked up by news media, as you can imagine, promulgated, and then draw the attention of maybe some governors of border states that say, ‘Hey, Oregon wants a bunch of folks. Let’s bus them.’ Right. And that’s not what we would like to do. We’d like to enter into conversation so we can readily take folks in manageable portions.”
What’s the status?
The proposal’s status is unclear, but it is purportedly in the hands of Governor Kate Brown. It could be weeks before they know its fate.
Neither Gilbert nor Brown’s office responded to multiple requests for comment. Sherryll Hoar, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Human Services, initially responded to a request for comment, but then stopped responding altogether. Gilbert did not confirm, nor deny, he held this meeting.
It’s also unclear where the migrants will be housed. And what it means for them to be offered a “permanent settlement”?
If the plan is to host migrants in perpetuity, it would come with a dramatic price tag. And as much as Oregon leaders may want to keep this a secret, it would have been unlikely even without this article. Social services across the state are already overburdened. It’s unclear how much of an appetite Oregonians have for taxing them further.
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