state legislation

Crime tracker speaks out about the sad reality of SB833

The Oregon Legislature is in a rush to pass Legislation granting driver licenses to illegal aliens in the name of public safety.  David Cross explains just a few of the tragic results of that rationale.  Read his moving guest opinion here.  Then call all of your Legislators before the final vote on Tuesday.  Go here:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm to find out who your Legislators are, if you aren't sure.

Oregon's citizens and legal residents have, unfortunately, become the collateral damage in the Legislatures rush to heap ever more benefits on those in our country illegally.  It's shameful and will, I fear, end tragically for many more Oregonians. Read more about Crime tracker speaks out about the sad reality of SB833

Driver’s license bill likely to prevail

SALEM — At the urging of immigrant rights groups, several significant business associations and Gov. John Kitzhaber, lawmakers appear likely to approve a bipartisan bill this session that would create a new short-term driving license for illegal immigrants.

Proponents believe the concept is grounded in realism, allowing a population that already lives and works in Oregon to drive legally and with insurance, until various immigration-related issues are comprehensively addressed at the federal level.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Oregonians who have a visceral conviction that the policy gives an unwarranted benefit to lawbreakers, encouraging more illegal immigrants to come to the state, and without necessarily making the state’s roads any safer. Those conflicting viewpoints were expressed in full voice at a heavily attended first public hearing Thursday on Senate Bill 833. Although public testimony was limited to two minutes per person, many who had signed up to testify were unable to do so at the two-hour hearing, while those watching the proceedings spilled into at least three overflow rooms.

Mariana Alvarez Flores of Salem said she had taken the day off from her job as a farm laborer to testify to the committee in favor of the bill.

“I don’t like driving without a license, but right now I have no other option,” she said through a translator.

Conversely, Cynthia Kendoll, the president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said the proposal “is wrong on every level.”

“Just because you can pass a bill, doesn’t mean you should,” she said.

Under SB 833, four-year licenses — rather than the eight-year licenses possessed by most Oregon drivers — could be granted to individuals who can provide proof of identity and at least one year of Oregon residency.

The new type of licenses would be slightly more expensive than typical Class C licenses, at $74 with a $54 renewal fee after four years, although several amendments are being considered that would lower the amounts.

No commercial license would be similarly made available.

Sen. Chuck Thomsen, a Hood River Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill, noted that the licenses, or “driving cards” as they may ultimately be named, wouldn’t allow a holder to register to vote, or to purchase a gun. They also couldn’t be used as a legal form of identification for miscellaneous non-driving purposes, as typical licenses can be, he added.

“This is a very important piece of legislation that affects a lot of ... good people and their families who live here in Oregon,” he said.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, a Keizer Republican, was one of several who testified who cited examples of vehicle accidents involving illegal immigrants.

“I tell you this story not because I think all people without (citizenship) documents are driving around drunk,” she said. But “this is an illustration of what can happen when we issue licenses to people who shouldn’t have them to begin with.”

No further public hearings on the proposal are expected in the Senate. The bill has been scheduled for a work session on Monday, where it could be amended and voted to the chamber floor. Read more about Driver’s license bill likely to prevail

Debate on immigrant licenses gets personal

A two-hour debate Thursday on issuing state driver’s licenses without proof of legal presence got personal for both sides.

Mariana Alvarez Flores, a Salem farm worker and mother of three, told lawmakers in Spanish through a translator she doesn’t like driving without a license but she currently has no other option.

“In my case, I’m unable to take my children safely to their doctor’s appointments, to school and to the babysitter,” she told lawmakers during a public hearing.

By getting a short-term license, under Senate Bill 833, supporters argued it would create safer roads because these drivers would be required to go through training and purchase automobile insurance.

Some Salem residents and lawmakers disagreed, arguing that the bill only condones illegal behavior and would make the state a magnet for illegal immigrants while doing nothing to increase public safety.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, shared the story of Craig and Judy Cox, who were hit twice by drunken drivers she said were here illegally. Judy Cox died in the second accident while traveling with her husband between St. Paul and Newburg in 2007.

“I tell you this story not because I think all people without documents are driving around drunk,” Thatcher said. “But I tell you this story because this is an illustration of what can happen when we issue licenses to people who shouldn’t have them.”

While opponents geared the debate toward immigration, proponents — including the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs and immigration groups — said the bill is merely a matter of public safety.

Applicants would still need to pass the written and driving-skills test and prove their identity, date of birth and residency in Oregon for one year, under Senate Bill 833.

The license, which cannot be used for identification, would last four years.

Sybil Hebb, the director of legislative advocacy of the Oregon Law Center, said the bill would help break down the barriers to poverty by helping low-income people get to work safely.

Victims of domestic violence and the homeless are among people who may not have proof of legal presence, she noted.

Proof of legal presence was required under a 2008 law, which lawmakers passed to comply with the requirements of the federal Real ID Act. The act does allow states to issue other licenses clearly marked as invalid for federal identification purposes.

Other states such as Washington and New Mexico currently issue licenses without proof of legal presence.

The driver’s license bill is not the only legislation that has pitted immigration-rights groups against immigration critics this session. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law in April a bill that would allow in-state tuition for students whose parents came to the United States illegally.

Dozens of people signed up to testify on the bill Thursday and the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee said after the hearing he’s not sure yet if there will be enough votes to move the legislation to the floor.

“I haven’t polled the committee so I have no knowledge of that. We have a few amendments that we need to discuss and see what’s there,” said Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Eugene.

After the hearing, hundreds of immigration advocates from Causa Oregon gathered outside the Capitol.

“Sí, se puede,” they chanted as they pumped their fists in the air.

Translation: Yes, We Can.

Reporter Peter Wong contributed to this report. Read more about Debate on immigrant licenses gets personal

BINGO!

In a recent letter to the editor Jerry Ritter connected the dots and got a BINGO!

Read Jerry's letter and consider writing a letter of your own.  It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...BINGO!
  Read more about BINGO!

Short-term driver's license bill introduced

A bill introduced Tuesday would allow some people without immigration documents to obtain a short-term Oregon driver’s license.

Senate Bill 833 has not been assigned to a committee for a hearing.

The bill would allow the state Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division to issue licenses without proof of legal presence in the United States if applicants meet all other conditions. Such licenses would be valid for four years, half the standard eight years.

Applicants still would have to prove their identity, date of birth, and residence in Oregon for one year, as well as pass the written and driving-skills tests.

Such licenses could not be used for federal identification purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft or entering federal buildings.

Lawmakers in 2008 required proof of legal presence in the United States as a condition of obtaining a state license or identification card. They did so to comply with requirements of the federal Real ID Act, which does allow states to issue other licenses if clearly marked as invalid for federal identification purposes.

Eleven months ago, Gov. John Kitzhaber said he would convene a group to resolve the issue of licenses for those who lacked the documents.

“People need to pass a test, obtain a license and insurance to be on the roads. We all need to get to church, the store and work,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and part of the group.

“We have worked hard to craft a bill that allows our law enforcement officials to know when they are looking at a valid driver’s license. Senate Bill 833 is a reasonable solution to the problem.”

The bill is expected to face opposition from Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

“Before the 2008 law, Oregon’s license had become the gold standard for potential terrorists and drug traffickers because it was good for eight years and didn’t require any proof of legal presence,” said Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman. “Five years later, we are right back in the same place.”

Francisco Lopez, executive director of Causa Oregon immigrant-rights group, said there are about 200,000 Latino workers in Oregon.

“We are contributing members of the community and the economy,” he said.

Washington and New Mexico do not require proof of legal presence for licenses; Washington issues an enhanced license valid for federal purposes. Utah issues a driver privilege card that must be renewed annually.

The bill is sponsored by four Democrats and four Republicans in both chambers.

They are Sens. Chip Shields, D-Portland; Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay; Bill Hansell, R-Athena; Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, and Reps. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, Jessica Vega Pederson, D-Portland, Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton, and Mark Johnson, R-Hood River. Read more about Short-term driver's license bill introduced

Gov. Kitzhaber signs tuition bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law today a bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students without documents.

“This bill will help them get their shot at the American dream,” he said to legislators, advocates and students packed into his ceremonial office at the Capitol.

He described the students, whose parents brought them illegally to the United States when they were young, as “exactly the kind of young people we want in our system of public education and universities.”

For House Bill 2787, it was the end of a decade-long journey. Similar bills cleared the Senate in 2003 and 2011, but both died in the House without reaching a vote.

Students would qualify if they graduated from high school or its equivalent in Oregon, attended Oregon schools three years prior to graduation and U.S. schools for five years, and show their intent to obtain legal status or citizenship in the United States.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, is the chief Senate sponsor of the law and was the first to introduce such legislation in 2003. He did so at the request of Laura Lanka, then the principal of Woodburn High School.

In her original 2002 email, which Courtney read aloud, she wrote, “What a bill like this would do is allow our college-ready students, regardless of their immigration status, the opportunity to get an education.”

Lanka, who is retired and now lives in Washington state, was present at the ceremony.

State university officials said they expect the number of qualifying students to be limited, given that they still are ineligible for state and federal financial aid.

They estimate only 38 additional students in the coming two-year cycle, and 80 students in the 2015-17 cycle. The net gain in tuition was estimated at just under $350,000 in the next cycle, and $1.5 million in 2015-17, assuming that none pay out-of-state tuition at rates three or four times in-state rates.

Oregon joins 12 other states with similar laws, including California and Washington. Two others have acted by other means.

Democratic majorities in both chambers resulting from the Nov. 6 election made passage likely. Five Republicans joined all 34 Democrats for it in the House, and three Republicans joined all 16 Democrats for it in the Senate.

The minority Republicans in the House sponsored a substitute that would have limited eligibility to those participating in a delayed-deportation program created last year by President Barack Obama. Participants are eligible for work permits. But the House defeated the proposed substitute on a party-line vote.

Kitzhaber took no public stance on a similar bill in 2011. But he said during his budget presentation on Nov. 30 he would sign such a bill, and held a news conference on it Feb. 11 with business leaders.

Oregon’s major business groups joined the Oregon Student Association and immigrant-rights groups in backing the bill. Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which is critical of federal immigration policy, opposed it.

Opponents have already said a legal challenge is likely. Gabriela Morrongiello, a sophomore at Oregon State University who is from California — and who is president of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom chapter — stated there would be a challenge in her testimony to a House committee on Feb. 13.

California’s law was upheld in 2010 by that state’s highest court, and in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

If Oregon’s law is challenged, the case would go directly to the state Supreme Court, which has the authority to appoint someone to sort out disputes on facts before the justices hear oral arguments. Read more about Gov. Kitzhaber signs tuition bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students

Immigration activists seek the right to drive legally

Sindy Avila came to the United States from Mexico when she was 2.

Kassandra Marquez was born in the United States, but just a few months after her parents arrived from Mexico.

What drew them and about 100 others to a rally Tuesday at the Capitol was the issue of reinstating Oregon driver’s licenses for immigrants who lack proof of legal presence in the United States.

Oregon lawmakers are expected to consider legislation soon to change the 2008 law requiring such proof to receive licenses and identification cards.

“We stand together in solidarity with our parents and valued members of our community to let our politicians know that we need driver’s licenses,” Avila said at the rally. “They are a necessity for people to go to work, to provide food for their families and to contribute to our community.”

Marquez’s mother was five months pregnant with her when her parents crossed the border.

“My father goes to work daily, living in fear of getting detained by the police,” she said. “This affects me and my family, because he is our only provider for our household. It is my fear that one day, while he is driving to or from work, I will not be able to see him again.”

Several others told their stories, mostly in Spanish, but withheld their last names.

The rally was organized by Oregon Dream Activists, which sponsored a similar rally Oct. 30 after several students walked from Portland to Salem over four days to call attention to their cause.

At the Oct. 30 rally, Gov. John Kitzhaber was the target of advocates who thought he could reverse the 2008 law via an executive order. Kitzhaber has since announced his support of changing the law, and supporters at Tuesday’s rally hid his name from a banner proclaiming “Restore Our Licenses Now.”

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The same federal law also allows states to issue licenses that are “clearly marked” as invalid for federal purposes.

Washington and New Mexico are the only states with such licenses not requiring proof of legal presence, although Washington also issues an “enhanced” license that can be used for travel to and from Canada, as well as federal purposes. Residents of other states must obtain U.S. passports for Canadian travel.

Utah issues driving privilege cards that must be renewed annually.

Kitzhaber announced 11 months ago, in a message delivered at a May Day rally, that a task force would try to come up with solutions. He has not said what form the legislation may take.

“This bill is important for a significant segment of our economy,” he said at a news conference on Feb. 11.

“We want a driver’s license that is not discriminatory,” said Marco Mejia of Jobs with Justice, a group based in Portland, during the rally.

Immigrant-rights groups say that many drivers without immigration documents cannot obtain or renew their licenses, forcing them to use public transportation or forgo licensed driving.

But Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which has been critical of federal immigration policy, has defended the 2008 law as a safeguard against the abuse of licenses.

Mira Conklin, who spoke for the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, said national borders are drawn by humans, not God.

“It’s a line that tries to tell us that a person born on one side of that line has more value than a person born on the other side — and we know that’s not true,” she said. “We know we all have value. Let’s work together to change the law.”

Peter Parks, a retired longshoreman and a spokesman for Jobs with Justice, said state legislation for driver’s licenses is only a step toward federal legislation for comprehensive immigration-law changes. “We have to keep moving,” he said.

Marco Mejia addresses those attending the Oregon Dream Activists rally on the Capitol steps, on Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2013, in support of restoring driver's licenses without having to show proof of legal presence in the United States.

What’s next

A bill is expected to be introduced soon that would allow issuance of Oregon driver’s licenses and identification cards without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States. A Senate committee heard but did not advance similar legislation in 2011.

House Bill 3226, which would allow issuance of licenses and cards to those who have been granted deferred status by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is pending in the House Rules Committee. Oregon officials already have determined that limited-term licenses can be issued to participants in the Deferred Action-Childhood Arrivals program authorized by President Barack Obama last year Read more about Immigration activists seek the right to drive legally

One has to wonder...

One has to wonder why, why would our Governor want to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens?  Why are so many Legislators trying to hide the fact that there is a bill, HB 3226,  "hiding in the shadows" at the Oregon Legislature? Why?  I'll tell you why...

In a recent poll by the Statesman Journal, while not scientific, the views of the public were made very clear in this open poll. We must all keep our eyes wide open lest the Legislature tries to slip the bill through under the radar.

QUESTION:

Should the Oregon Legislature reinstate driver's licenses for those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States?

Yes 5%

No 91%

Not sure 1%

Don’t care 0%

Voting is now closed: 705 votes

This comment followed the poll results regarding HB 2787, the instate tuition benefits for illegal aliens bill:

I am so astounded by the number of representatives that are willing to ignore our returning veterans but reward the children of people who snuck into this country to steal jobs away from Americans.

The media continues to sell this position as supporting people who have entered this country only to take jobs Americans don't want. I am 66 years old, I have been in the construction industry for over 40 years, I have seen the transformation of the labor force in the skilled construction trades over the last 20 years. Having worked for the state I represented the state as a construction project manager. This means that the work that was being done under my management was work that was classified prevailing wage public works. I have watched the number of English-speaking tradesmen diminish in trades such as concrete, tile installation, framing, roofing, drywall, and painting. These trades, under the prevailing wage category, pay between $30 and $60 an hour. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that there are no Americans who want to earn between $30 and $60 an hour.

What's worse, is that I know as sure as God made little green apples, that many of them, perhaps even the vast majority of them, are not being paid the lawful prevailing wage. However, because they are in this country illegally it is easy for unscrupulous contractors to exploit them. In the meantime, because these contractors can underbid legitimate contractors who pay the true prevailing wage, legitimate businesses are being driven into bankruptcy.

Over the last 40 years I have watched most of America's manufacturing jobs get sent overseas. Now that there are few manufacturing jobs left that can earn a decent wage, the only blue-collar work remaining is construction and service work. Service work traditionally does not pay a living wage. Construction used to, but because of the influx of illegal immigration into the trades the wages are being driven down. So, after shipping the high paying manufacturing jobs out of the country business interests are now choosing to import Third World labor to cover those jobs that can't be shipped out of the country.

In my opinion the elected representatives that voted in favor of HB 2787, and who vote for any other bill, now or in the future, that supports illegal immigration, are committing a treasonous act.

  Read more about One has to wonder...

Call every Oregon Senator today!

Alert date: 
March 20, 2013
Alert body: 

Citizens likely have only today to stop passage of HB 2787 which would give in-state tuition benefits to illegal alien students.  The bill has passed the House and was heard by the Senate Education Committee yesterday. Recent reports tell us us they will send the bill to the Senate floor for a vote as early as Thursday.

CALL, email or visit your Senator.  Tell them you are a constituent and you VOTE.  Tell them you do not support, nor appreciate, that they would put the demands of people illegally in our country, ahead of the rights of US citizens.  Even our veterans are getting shafted in their zeal to get this bill passed ASAP.

If you don't know who your Senator is, find out here:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/
 

In-state tuition for immigrants heads to Senate vote

The Oregon Senate might vote as early as Thursday on a bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students.

The Senate Education Committee voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday to advance House Bill 2787. The committee did not amend the bill, and a spokesman for Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said the bill could be up for a final vote Thursday.

Courtney will be the bill’s floor manager when it comes up for a vote. He also sponsored the original bill a decade ago.

He said students should not be held responsible for what their parents did entering the United States illegally.

The bill would allow in-state tuition for students without immigration documents, if they graduated from high school or its equivalent in Oregon, attended Oregon schools three years before graduation and U.S. schools for five years. Students also would have to show intent to seek legal status or citizenship in the United States.

Out-of-state tuition typically is three or four times the rate for in-state residents.

Committee members heard from 28 witnesses split equally for and against the bill.

One of those in favor was Ayrton Nicolas, 17, a senior at North Salem High School, who said his ambition is to be a neurosurgeon. Nicolas, a member of the Junior ROTC drill team, said he has been accepted by several colleges.

“Unfortunately, because of my legal status in America, my tuition costs are twice or sometimes three times more than that of my fellow classmates who I studied with, played sports with and volunteered with,” he said. “This cost is the only thing keeping me from chasing my dream.”

But Mark Callahan of Salem, who has twice run for the Oregon House from Eugene, was among those who opposed the bill. Read more about In-state tuition for immigrants heads to Senate vote

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