deferred action

Supporters, opponents of rule affecting non-citizens speak out

Testimony on a provision banning non-citizens from serving as the City of Keizer’s youth councilor ranged from blasting the group for lost opportunities to support for the rule of law.

A work session Monday night at the Keizer Civic Center drew more than 50 people for what might ordinarily be a little-discussed topic: Rules and procedures for the city council.

Of course, this was no ordinary meeting: It was held at the behest of CAUSA, an immigrant rights group who requested to speak with Mayor Lore Christopher.

Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA, questioned the timing of the decision: It came the same night Hugo Nicolas, a former Keizer youth councilor, received an award from the City of Salem and within days of speaking to numerous media outlets about his status as an illegal immigrant.

Lopez also asked how it would be enforced.

“How are you going to make a determination? Based on the color of skin? Or their last name?” Lopez said.

The council’s supporters came back to one theme: The rule of law, and whether allowing students whose parents brought them to the country illegally bends those laws too far.

State Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer, compared the situation to relatives who own land in another part of the state and live there part-time.

“They could contribute to their community all day long and they couldn’t run for city council because they don’t live there full-time,” Thatcher said. “There just has to be lines that are drawn (and) what you’re drawing is sensible.”

Nicolas himself addressed the council, saying he felt shame as he came to the Keizer Civic Center to volunteer as a police cadet or in the youth council role, then go home to a crowded house, with relatives sleeping in the garage.

“Here in Keizer and around the country we share a city, but not a community,” Nicolas said. “… We learn to only share a common fear.”

Councilor David McKane said earlier in the meeting the revised council rules had been in the works for about a year, and that the changes were not associated with Nicolas personally.

“It has nothing to do with you and people that say that should be ashamed,” McKane said.

Peter Dane testified that rules should maintain accountability for parents to follow the law for the sake of their children.

“To keep demanding more loopholes in the law … is selfish and egregious,” Dane said.

Dennis Koho, a former mayor who is unopposed in his candidacy for city council, said a system shouldn’t penalize children for their parents’ decision as of where to live.

“We can best help those future leaders by being inclusive rather than saying we’re only going to take a look at a certain type of young person,” Koho said.

Eduardo Angulo, chairman and executive director of the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality, said volunteer opportunities for immigrant children help bolster the area, comparing it favorably to troubled neighborhoods in southern California and New York City.

“You’re excluding a great deal of the population of Latino youth … who could be part of the solution,” Angulo said.’

Judy DeSpain said Nicolas was a victim of his parents’ lawlessness.

“Illegal immigrants cannot have the same rights as U.S. citizens,” DeSpain said. “To do so means our laws and citizenship are meaningless for all.” Read more about Supporters, opponents of rule affecting non-citizens speak out

Rule bars non-citizens from youth volunteer jobs

An Oregon immigrant rights organization and its supporters testified at Keizer City Hall on Monday in hopes of stopping a new rule that would bar non-U.S. citizens from serving as youth councilors.

Supporters of the new rule also testified, saying participating in the government process should be a benefit of citizenship.

On Aug. 20, the Keizer council approved an update in the volunteer program for youths, indicating that candidates for the position must be eligible to vote if they are 18 years old.

The rule would keep non-citizen immigrants, regardless of legal status, from participating.

The youth volunteers advise the council on issues that affect young people in the community.

A key issue for the immigrant rights advocates was the timing of the council’s action. It came shortly after Hugo Nicolas, 19, a former Keizer youth councilor and undocumented immigrant, went public with his status and applied for the Obama administration’s deferred action program.

Nicolas and Francisco Lopez, executive director of Causa, stopped short of accusing the City Council of acting on the rule in response to the attention surrounding Nicolas. Considering the timing of developments, they said, it’s hard to believe it was a coincidence.

“That’s the question that we have today,” Lopez said. “Why now?”

Councilors and Mayor Lore Christopher maintained that the rule was revised as part of a review of all of the council’s rules and procedures.

Councilor David McKane said the citizenship rule was added as an eligibility requirement to make it consistent with the rules the councilors and mayor must meet to be serve in local government. They must be citizens of the state, he said.

It was the subcommittee’s hope that the youth councilors could eventually serve as city councilors, he said.

Nicolas gave emotional testimony, his voice shaking. He thanked the council for allowing him the opportunity to serve as youth councilor two years ago.

But the new rule sends an unfortunate message to youths, he said.

“We share a city but not a community,” he said.

Nicolas went over the three-minute time limit, set by Christopher because of the lengthy speakers list.

But councilor Mark Caillier allowed him to continue, asking, “Hugo, what else do you want to say?”

When Nicolas finished, his supporters applauded. City officials responded, apologizing about the timing of the council’s action.

McKane told Nicolas that the rule had nothing to do with him.

“If there’s anything that I can do or we can do to help you, all you have to do is ask,” he said.

Nicolas recently garnered media attention when he traveled to Portland to apply for the deferred action program. If eligible, he could be shielded from deportation for two years. He could also apply for a work permit that would allow him to work legally in the U.S.

Nicolas was brought illegally to the U.S. from Veracruz, Mexico, when he was 11.

Less than a week after the Statesman Journal story about Nicolas’ journey was published, Keizer City Council made a decision that would prohibit youths such as Nicolas from volunteering.

Two days later, Nicolas received the Mayor’s Youth Achievement Award from the city of Salem. The award is presented to a youth or youth group involved in a volunteer project benefiting the city.

Lopez said he hoped the City Council would reconsider the rule, and involve more people in coming up with a solution.

  Read more about Rule bars non-citizens from youth volunteer jobs

OFIR VP published in Washington Times

Rick LaMountain is a talented writer often published in The Oregonian.  LaMountain has a gift for making a clear point and did just that, in a well sourced commentary about unions and their involvement in illegal immigration issues. Read more about OFIR VP published in Washington Times

Friday, September 7, 5th Congressional District Debate

Alert date: 
September 5, 2012
Alert body: 

-Election 2012-

5th Congressional District Debate:   Lugo, Schrader and Thompson

Salem City Club is pleased to host a debate between the three candidates seeking to represent Oregon's 5th congressional district in U.S. House of Representatives. Join us on Friday, September 7 at noon when we open our 45th season with this dynamic program. Congressional District 5 encompasses Tillamook, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, and Clackamas counties, rural, metro, coastal, and suburban neighborhoods.

For more information please visit the Salem City club website.

NOTE:  Incumbent Kurt Schrader has a D grade on immigration issues according to NumbersUSA.  Oregon deserves better!

This evening is your opportunity to make a difference - attend Keizer City Council Work Session, Monday, September 10th

Alert date: 
September 7, 2012
Alert body: 

Salem and Keizer members, friends and supporters,

Sometimes it feels like the issue of illegal immigration is too big and there is nothing one person can do.  But, here is a great opportunity right in our own backyard!

On Monday, September 10th, the Keizer City Council will have a Work Session at 5:45 p.m (OFIR suggests arriving earlier, if possible). The topic for the work session will be the City Council Rule that requires youth councilors to be electors when they turn 18 years of age. In essence the rules require that youth councilors must be U.S. citizens.

The city council has come under pressure from outside groups to allow “undocumented aliens” to become youth councilors. Of course people who are not in the US legally cannot become electors. The purpose of the program is that the city council wanted young adults to gain experience and hopefully someday they would then decide to get involved in their local government. OFIR believes the program should be open only to American citizens and not those in our country illegally.  Please plan to attend and bring a friend or neighbor.  It is OFIR's understanding that pro-illegal immigration groups plan to "occupy" this event.  If so, please to NOT engage in any combative language or yelling.  Be polite and respectful if called on to comment.  We want everyone to be safe!

What: The work session will be held in the Keizer Council Chambers.

When: 5:45 Monday, September 10. (go earlier if possible)

Where: Keizer City hall, 930 Chemawa Road NE, Keizer, OR 97303.

OFIR encourages you to attend the work session and let the city council know that

you support their rule requiring only people legally in the country be allowed in the program.

The work session will start at 5:45 p.m. (get there earlier, if possible)

If you have any questions please call the OFIR office at (503) 435-0141.

Federal agents file a lawsuit to stop "deferred action"

Alert date: 
August 23, 2012
Alert body: 

Federal immigration agents just now filed a suit against Janet Napolitano's DREAM amnesty.  Read the full story here.


Subscribe to RSS - deferred action