Ems Aim to Strike Out Measure 105

Local minor league team takes hard stance against immigration ballot measure

The Eugene Emeralds have received nationwide attention for the team’s miraculous championship win: Even though the Ems had a losing season record, the team went on to win the championship. 

Now the team is warmed up to take on its real rival: Measure 105. 

The Ems, which celebrate Latino heritage through the branding of Las Monarcas, have publicly opposed Measure 105, the ballot initiative that would end Oregon’s 30-year history as a sanctuary state for immigrants. The Emeralds are the only sports team to join Oregonians United Against Profiling’s coalition of organizations to oppose the measure.

“We feel strongly with this, otherwise we wouldn’t have made a stance on it,” says Allan Benevides, the team’s general manager. 

Opposing Measure 105 isn’t doing anything too crazy, he adds, although it’s the first time the team has publicly taken a stand on a political issue. 

Since making the public announcement, he says he’s heard an “overwhelmingly positive” response overall, though a few negative responses have argued the team should stick to baseball. 

In addition to baseball being one of the most popular sports in Latin America, Benevides says that on opening day, the Emeralds’ player roster was 70 percent Latino. 

In March 2018, the Emeralds announced they would participate in the “Copa de la diversión,” a season-long series meant to bridge fans with cultures and values that align with a team’s local Latino community. 

The team chose Las Monarcas because the Monarch butterfly is a symbol for the migrant community, the team said in a March 20 statement that announced the branding. 

The Ems transformed into Las Monarcas for its Tuesday home games, but Benevides says the team will move that to Sunday home games for the 2019 season because it’s had such a positive result. 

The team’s re-branding is intended to mean more than just “fun, family and fiesta.” It should also be directed at making an impact in the community, Benevides says. 

The Emeralds’ front office was trying to decide how to engage with Measure 105 in the ballpark since early August. They didn’t want to wait until canvassing season in September, Benevides says. 

The team put out a video that played before games showing community members (including Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis) and Eugene Emeralds staff asking viewers to vote no on Measure 105. 

“As Emeralds, as Monarcas, we believe that all Oregonians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. This fall, Measure 105 threatens the health of our diverse community,” the video said. “Say no to discrimination. Say no to unjust profiling. Vote no to Measure 105.”

Measure 105 would repeal Oregon’s law that prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources to enforce federal immigration laws.  

Standing up against Measure 105 shouldn’t be left to just individuals, nonprofits and activists, Benevides says. Businesses need to stand up, too, because undoing the law “isn’t right.”  

 “I just know this country is better than this,” he says. “It’s frustrating to see [Latinos] under attack. I believe we all deserve a shot.” 

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