election

Oregon activists react to Trump's executive orders

Opponents of President Trump's executive orders concerning immigrants and refugees plan to rally at the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday.

"We will demand that the Governor and the State Legislature take immediate actions to defend and protect immigrants and refugees in Oregon," said rally organizers from Voz Hispana, an immigrants rights organization. "Oregon will not become a cog in the Trump deportation machine."

Last Friday, President Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, banned all immigrants from seven Muslim countries — Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya — for 90 days, and ordered his administration to develop "extreme vetting" measures for immigrants from those countries to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States, as reported by USA Today.

A protest against the orders was held at the Portland International Airport Sunday.

Steve and Cindy Spinnett went with signs reading, "Thank you, President Trump."

"We wanted to be an encouragement to President Trump for keeping his promises to the American people," Steve said.

At first, Steve said he and his wife ran into resistance from some protesters, but as they spoke to them, they found common ground.

"We told them they were sincere and we're glad to see them out there expressing their beliefs," he said. "We then warmed up to each other. We agreed that loving one another was more important than our disagreements politically."

Doug and Anya Holcomb, founders of Salem for Refugees, said they are going to continue to provide services for locals impacted by the actions.

"In the coming days, our focus will be on caring for the refugees who are already in Salem, advocating for the 65.3 million people across the globe who have been forced to flee their homes, educating our community about the global refugee crisis, and preparing our city to welcome the refugees who will be coming when resettlement begins again," the two activists said in a statement.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, more than 64,000 refugees have resettled in Oregon since 1975. Most of these refugees initially settle in the greater Portland metro area.

Currently, the most common refugee groups arriving in Oregon are from, Cuba, Burma, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia.

As for immigrants, Oregon is home to more than 391,000 immigrants, making about 10 percent of all Oregonians "foreign-born."

More than 11 million immigrants are estimated to be living in the United States illegally, according to the PEW Research Center and Migration Policy Institute.

By comparison, in 2014, around 47 percent, or 20 million, of all U.S. immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens. The remaining 53 percent, or 22.4 million, included lawful permanent residents, unauthorized immigrants, and legal residents on temporary visas, such as students and temporary workers.

Jim Ludwick, communications director for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said the organization saw the president's actions as a hopeful sign of Trump keeping his promises.

"We were hopeful that President Trump will come out and build the wall, and we think he will," he said.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, Ludwick said, is not against all immigration; rather, it is in favor of stricter background checks and a lower volume of people brought in each year.

"We need to make sure the people who come in are the people they say they are," he said.

Aside from violent attacks, he said the country isn't able to sustain much more than 230,000 legal immigrants a year.

"We aren't able to sustain (the number of people now), environmentally, socially, financially or politically," he said.

He said multiple U.S. Presidents in the past, including Carter and Clinton, placed travel and immigration bans on certain areas.

"This is not a new thing — there are just new players," he said.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

Rally at the Capitol

Voz Hispana, an immigrants rights organization, is a hosting rally on the front steps of the Oregon State Capitol.

Where: Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE
When: Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m.

"Welcoming Our New Neighbors" meeting

The “Welcoming Our New Neighbors” meetings discuss ways to assist incoming refugees in the Salem area. The events are organized by Catholic Charities, Salem for Refugees and the Salem Leadership Foundation, among others.

Where: Salem Alliance Church, 555 Gaines St NE
When: Monday, Feb. 6 at 12 p.m.

Event at Willamette Heritage Center

Toc Soneoulay-Gillespie, director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Charities of Oregon, will discuss both the state and national refugee programs and their challenges in 2017.

She will be joined by Doug and Anya Holcomb, co-directors of Salem for Refugees, and a representative of the refugee population, to explain the Salem-area program to members of the Salem City Club and the public on Feb. 3.

Where: Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill St SE
When: Friday, Feb. 3 at 11:30 a.m.
Cost: $15 per person

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury Tells President Trump: “We Will Stand Up to Bullying”

Officials across the Portland region—including Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese—pledged to defy President Donald Trump's pressure to hold undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said Trump's executive order to remove federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities" won't cause the county to yield.

"Federal funding is important," Kafoury said in a press conference today. "But we will stand up to bullying."...

(That was always unlikely. As WW reported this morning, to change the existing policy in Multnomah County would defy a U.S. District Court ruling from 2014. In that case, the judge ruled that Clackamas County had violated a woman's constitutional rights by holding her at ICE's request.)...

"People need to feel safe," Reese said. "We need to nurture a relationship to trust."

Reese and Kafoury were joined by County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Causa, SEIU Local 49, Our Oregon, and students from Portland Community College.

"I am here to tell you today that we are not going to turn our back on the most vulnerable members of our community because Donald Trump is threatening us," said Vega Pederson...

Matt De Santos of the ACLU of Oregon declared intentions to sue the White House...

Curious? Read the full text of Trump's border security executive order

Alert date: 
January 25, 2017
Alert body: 

BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IMPROVEMENTS

     By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) (INA), the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Public Law 109‑367) (Secure Fence Act), and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104‑208 Div. C) (IIRIRA), and in order to ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States as well as to ensure that the Nation's immigration laws are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows:

     Section 1.  Purpose.  Border security is critically important to the national security of the United States.  Aliens who illegally enter the United States without inspection or admission present a significant threat to national security and public safety.  Such aliens have not been identified or inspected by Federal immigration officers to determine their admissibility to the United States.  The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on Federal resources and overwhelmed agencies charged with border security and immigration enforcement, as well as the local communities into which many of the aliens are placed.

     Transnational criminal organizations operate sophisticated drug- and human-trafficking networks and smuggling operations on both sides of the southern border, contributing to a significant increase in violent crime and United States deaths from dangerous drugs.  Among those who illegally enter are those who seek to harm Americans through acts of terror or criminal conduct.  Continued illegal immigration presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States.

     Federal immigration law both imposes the responsibility and provides the means for the Federal Government, in cooperation with border States, to secure the Nation's southern border.  Although Federal immigration law provides a robust framework for Federal-State partnership in enforcing our immigration laws ‑‑ and the Congress has authorized and provided appropriations to secure our borders ‑‑ the Federal Government has failed to discharge this basic sovereign responsibility.  The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation's southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely.

     Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the executive branch to:

     (a)  secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism;

     (b)  detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating Federal or State law, including Federal immigration law, pending further proceedings regarding those violations;

     (c)  expedite determinations of apprehended individuals' claims of eligibility to remain in the United States;

     (d)  remove promptly those individuals whose legal claims to remain in the United States have been lawfully rejected, after any appropriate civil or criminal sanctions have been imposed; and

     (e)  cooperate fully with States and local law enforcement in enacting Federal-State partnerships to enforce Federal immigration priorities, as well as State monitoring and detention programs that are consistent with Federal law and do not undermine Federal immigration priorities.

     Sec. 3.  Definitions.  (a)  "Asylum officer" has the meaning given the term in section 235(b)(1)(E) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1)).

     (b)  "Southern border" shall mean the contiguous land border between the United States and Mexico, including all points of entry.

     (c)  "Border States" shall mean the States of the United States immediately adjacent to the contiguous land border between the United States and Mexico.

     (d)  Except as otherwise noted, "the Secretary" shall refer to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

     (e)  "Wall" shall mean a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier.

     (f)  "Executive department" shall have the meaning given in section 101 of title 5, United States Code.

     (g)  "Regulations" shall mean any and all Federal rules, regulations, and directives lawfully promulgated by agencies.

     (h)  "Operational control" shall mean the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

     Sec. 4.  Physical Security of the Southern Border of the United States.  The Secretary shall immediately take the following steps to obtain complete operational control, as determined by the Secretary, of the southern border:

     (a)  In accordance with existing law, including the Secure Fence Act and IIRIRA, take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border;

     (b)  Identify and, to the extent permitted by law, allocate all sources of Federal funds for the planning, designing, and constructing of a physical wall along the southern border;

     (c)  Project and develop long-term funding requirements for the wall, including preparing Congressional budget requests for the current and upcoming fiscal years; and

     (d)  Produce a comprehensive study of the security of the southern border, to be completed within 180 days of this order, that shall include the current state of southern border security, all geophysical and topographical aspects of the southern border, the availability of Federal and State resources necessary to achieve complete operational control of the southern border, and a strategy to obtain and maintain complete operational control of the southern border.

     Sec. 5.  Detention Facilities.  (a)  The Secretary shall take all appropriate action and allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.

     (b)  The Secretary shall take all appropriate action and allocate all legally available resources to immediately assign asylum officers to immigration detention facilities for the purpose of accepting asylum referrals and conducting credible fear determinations pursuant to section 235(b)(1) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1)) and applicable regulations and reasonable fear determinations pursuant to applicable regulations.

     (c)  The Attorney General shall take all appropriate action and allocate all legally available resources to immediately assign immigration judges to immigration detention facilities operated or controlled by the Secretary, or operated or controlled pursuant to contract by the Secretary, for the purpose of conducting proceedings authorized under title 8, chapter 12, subchapter II, United States Code.

     Sec. 6.  Detention for Illegal Entry.  The Secretary shall immediately take all appropriate actions to ensure the detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from the country to the extent permitted by law.  The Secretary shall issue new policy guidance to all Department of Homeland Security personnel regarding the appropriate and consistent use of lawful detention authority under the INA, including the termination of the practice commonly known as "catch and release," whereby aliens are routinely released in the United States shortly after their apprehension for violations of immigration law.

     Sec. 7.  Return to Territory.  The Secretary shall take appropriate action, consistent with the requirements of section 1232 of title 8, United States Code, to ensure that aliens described in section 235(b)(2)(C) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(C)) are returned to the territory from which they came pending a formal removal proceeding.

     Sec. 8.  Additional Border Patrol Agents.  Subject to available appropriations, the Secretary, through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shall take all appropriate action to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and all appropriate action to ensure that such agents enter on duty and are assigned to duty stations as soon as is practicable.

     Sec. 9.  Foreign Aid Reporting Requirements.  The head of each executive department and agency shall identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect Federal aid or assistance to the Government of Mexico on an annual basis over the past five years, including all bilateral and multilateral development aid, economic assistance, humanitarian aid, and military aid.  Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each executive department and agency shall submit this information to the Secretary of State.  Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall submit to the President a consolidated report reflecting the levels of such aid and assistance that has been provided annually, over each of the past five years.

     Sec. 10.  Federal-State Agreements.  It is the policy of the executive branch to empower State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer in the interior of the United States to the maximum extent permitted by law.

     (a)  In furtherance of this policy, the Secretary shall immediately take appropriate action to engage with the Governors of the States, as well as local officials, for the purpose of preparing to enter into agreements under section 287(g) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1357(g)).

     (b)  To the extent permitted by law, and with the consent of State or local officials, as appropriate, the Secretary shall take appropriate action, through agreements under section 287(g) of the INA, or otherwise, to authorize State and local law enforcement officials, as the Secretary determines are qualified and appropriate, to perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States under the direction and the supervision of the Secretary.  Such authorization shall be in addition to, rather than in place of, Federal performance of these duties.

     (c)  To the extent permitted by law, the Secretary may structure each agreement under section 287(g) of the INA in the manner that provides the most effective model for enforcing Federal immigration laws and obtaining operational control over the border for that jurisdiction.

     Sec. 11.  Parole, Asylum, and Removal.  It is the policy of the executive branch to end the abuse of parole and asylum provisions currently used to prevent the lawful removal of removable aliens.

     (a)  The Secretary shall immediately take all appropriate action to ensure that the parole and asylum provisions of Federal immigration law are not illegally exploited to prevent the removal of otherwise removable aliens.

     (b)  The Secretary shall take all appropriate action, including by promulgating any appropriate regulations, to ensure that asylum referrals and credible fear determinations pursuant to section 235(b)(1) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1125(b)(1)) and 8 CFR 208.30, and reasonable fear determinations pursuant to 8 CFR 208.31, are conducted in a manner consistent with the plain language of those provisions.

     (c)  Pursuant to section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii)(I) of the INA, the Secretary shall take appropriate action to apply, in his sole and unreviewable discretion, the provisions of section 235(b)(1)(A)(i) and (ii) of the INA to the aliens designated under section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii)(II).

     (d)  The Secretary shall take appropriate action to ensure that parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)) is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and in all circumstances only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.

     (e)  The Secretary shall take appropriate action to require that all Department of Homeland Security personnel are properly trained on the proper application of section 235 of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (8 U.S.C. 1232) and section 462(g)(2) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 279(g)(2)), to ensure that unaccompanied alien children are properly processed, receive appropriate care and placement while in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, and, when appropriate, are safely repatriated in accordance with law.

     Sec. 12.  Authorization to Enter Federal Lands.  The Secretary, in conjunction with the Secretary of the Interior and any other heads of agencies as necessary, shall take all appropriate action to:

     (a)  permit all officers and employees of the United States, as well as all State and local officers as authorized by the Secretary, to have access to all Federal lands as necessary and appropriate to implement this order; and

     (b)  enable those officers and employees of the United States, as well as all State and local officers as authorized by the Secretary, to perform such actions on Federal lands as the Secretary deems necessary and appropriate to implement this order.

     Sec. 13.  Priority Enforcement.  The Attorney General shall take all appropriate steps to establish prosecution guidelines and allocate appropriate resources to ensure that Federal prosecutors accord a high priority to prosecutions of offenses having a nexus to the southern border.

     Sec. 14.  Government Transparency.  The Secretary shall, on a monthly basis and in a publicly available way, report statistical data on aliens apprehended at or near the southern border using a uniform method of reporting by all Department of Homeland Security components, in a format that is easily understandable by the public.

     Sec. 15.  Reporting.  Except as otherwise provided in this order, the Secretary, within 90 days of the date of this order, and the Attorney General, within 180 days, shall each submit to the President a report on the progress of the directives contained in this order.

     Sec. 16.  Hiring.  The Office of Personnel Management shall take appropriate action as may be necessary to facilitate hiring personnel to implement this order.

     Sec. 17.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

          (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

          (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Forest Grove won't be a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants

The mayor thought declaring Forest Grove a "sanctuary city" would be a no-brainer.

About a quarter of the Washington County city's 21,000 residents are Latino...

"They play a significant role in the culture of this community," Truax said.

But Monday night, in a tie vote that has divided the community, the council decided it wouldn't be a sanctuary city....

Councilors said they worried the term is too polarizing. President Donald Trump has vowed to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities...

Sanctuary cities have been around since the 1980s and use a variety of tactics to shield undocumented immigrants. Some prevent local law enforcement officers from asking about the immigration status of residents. Others refuse to hold suspected undocumented immigrants past their scheduled release dates.

After Trump won the presidency in November, dozens of officials across the country voted to declare sanctuary.

Oregon is, by practice, a sanctuary state. A state law prevents local police officers from inquiring about anyone's immigration status if they have not committed a crime. Still, some Oregon cities and counties have passed symbolic resolutions...

Last year, then Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler said Portland will remain a sanctuary city under his tenure. In December, Corvallis declared itself a sanctuary city. And Beaverton's council unanimously passed a sanctuary city resolution...

Washington County activists want others to follow suit. In January, a crowd rallied outside a Hillsboro City Council meeting to demand that city declare sanctuary....

"I think it would have given all of our residents the opportunity to know Forest Grove is an open and accepting community that honors diversity," Truax said.

The mayor drafted a resolution defining "sanctuary city" as one that is safe for residents, regardless of their immigration status, one that ensures undocumented immigrants can call police or fire crews for help without fear of being deported.

About 150 people packed a Jan. 9 public hearing. Six people opposed the resolution. Thirty-four people supported the idea. Most said they wanted the city to use the word "sanctuary" in its resolution.

"When cities declare that they're sanctuaries, those people know for a fact that they are welcome there, that they won't be torn away from their families...

Since then, 53 more people have sent in supportive comments, while two people wrote to oppose the resolution.

"When I see that kind of imbalance between those in favor and those opposed, to me my vote was a no-brainer," Truax said.

Other councilors agonized.

"This is the hardest decision that I have ever had to make," said Ron Thompson, who has spent 15 years on the council.

Thompson said he wants to make the city a better place for minorities. He has worked to add low-income housing for migrant workers. But he also worried approving the resolution might cause residents to revolt and vote down a public safety levy that pays for nearly a quarter of the town's police and fire bureaus.

"I don't want the sanctuary thing to split our community so that we are not working together to make improvements," Thompson said.

Timothy Rippe, a retiree who joined the council in November, said he knows Forest Grove residents have experienced "real fear, real vulnerability" following Trump's election...

Ultimately, Rippe decided he had to vote against declaring sanctuary. The label is too polarizing, he said, and Forest Grove can't risk losing any federal money. Other vulnerable residents depend on the dollars, he said.

According to staff reports -- printed in both English and Spanish -- Forest Grove will receive about $4 million in federal aid this year. The city is expecting $325,000 for a senior center kitchen remodel, $240,000 for sewer work and $3.6 million for road improvements.

Rippe worried especially about the money earmarked for the senior center. Meals on Wheels plans to use the kitchen, he said, to deliver food to the elderly.

"I just don't see how we can morally say one group is more important than another group," Rippe said. "We all have parents and grandparents who are getting older and more vulnerable. To jeopardize their well-being is not taking care of the entire community."

Matthew Vandehey, a new councilor who voted against Truax's proposal, said he worried declaring sanctuary would have given undocumented immigrants "a false sense of security."

"Throughout history, both church and political sanctuary offered immunity to arrest," Vandehey said. "That is how it can be interpreted, but that is not what the city can provide."

If federal immigration agents want to raid Forest Grove, local officials won't be able to stop residents from being deported.

Bridget Cooke, executive director of Adelante Mujeres, said people at her Latino community nonprofit are "saddened but not disheartened.

"We were hoping for a shout out of support, instead we got a whisper," Cooke said. "But we can work with that."

Truax said he is "deeply disappointed" and unsure of what to do next.

"A 3-3 tie is almost worse than a no vote," Truax said. "It really leaves us in a quandary."

Only a few hours after the meeting, Truax said he'd already heard from many angry residents on both sides.

"Make no mistake: When I talk to people who share with me disappointment right now, I say I share their disappointment," Truax said. "We will struggle on. The arc of justice, as Dr. King says, bends. But it takes time."

Oregon Illegal Immigrants to Protest Ahead of Trump Inauguration

Hundreds of illegal immigrants living in Oregon are expected to protest at the State Capitol against expected tighter immigration enforcement under President-Elect Donald Trump, just days before his Inaugural Address.

Over 500 Oregon residents and illegal immigrants are expected to attend the event, according to the Portland Tribune. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) will also be in attendance at the rally.

The open borders organization One Oregon asked residents to “denounce Trump’s agenda of hate and exclusion” by joining the protest.

“We must unite to stop Trump’s first 100 days of hate,” One Oregon officials wrote in a news release. “We call on Oregonians, community organizations, and our local elected leaders to join us.”

The group objects to Trump’s immigration plans, which includes building a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico southern border, reducing legal immigration levels, and deporting criminal illegal immigrants.

During a recent news conference, Trump said the building of the border wall would “start immediately” after he takes office on January 20, Breitbart News reported.

I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get into office,” Trump said during his recent news conference. “But I don’t want to wait. Mike Pence is leading an effort to get final approvals through various agencies and through Congress for the wall to begin.”

“I don’t feel like waiting a year or year and a half,” Trump continued. “We’re going to start building,”

In California, one of Oregon’s neighboring states, open border allies like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have already concocted plans that attempt to halt the border wall, though the plans seem unlikely to change anything, Breitbart Texas reported.

“There are all kinds of obstructions as it relates to just getting zoning approval and getting building permits,” Newsom said of trying to stop the border wall while being interviewed on a local podcast. “All those things could be made very, very challenging for the administration.”

John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

OFIR meeting - this Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
January 8, 2017
Alert body: 

Alot has happened since OFIR's last meeting.  We have reason to be optimistic for what the future may hold regarding enforcement of our immigration laws.

Plan to attend OFIR"s meeting this Saturday, January 14 at from 2 - 4pm. 

We will talk about the 2016 election results and how they will impact us nationally and here in Oregon.

The Oregon Legislature will open their 2017 session next month.  We'll talk about the new legislation OFIR is proposing and also the likely oppositions  legislation we will be tracking.

OFIR President, Cynthia Kendoll will share photos and experiences about her week long exploration of the northeast US / Canadian border with Center for Immigration Studies.

We have a packed agenda!  Invite a friend and learn what you can do to get involved in 2017!

Attendance is free and there is plenty of free parking!


 

PCC's board chair resigned in protest over 'sanctuary college' designation

The chairman of Portland Community College's board resigned from his elected position to protest what he called a political decision to classify the school a "sanctuary" for undocumented students.

Gene Pitts, who represented eastern Washington County and Southwest Portland on the board, submitted his resignation letter...

PCC, the state's largest post-secondary institution, had voted to adopt the sanctuary campus label at the urging of its student body, and with the support of first-year president Mark Mitsui.

The board held a special meeting Dec. 20 at its Sylvania campus to consider the largely symbolic gesture....to publicly declare the schools would not help enforce federal immigration laws.

Pitts did not attend the meeting, according to vice-chair Kali Thorne-Ladd...

"I have spoken to each of you, so it should not be a surprise that I was not aligned with the College's decision to deem itself a 'sanctuary college,'" Pitts wrote in his resignation letter sent on the same day as the special meeting.

"As I've shared with you, I felt that the decision to use the term 'sanctuary college' politicizes the college, places risk on the backs of the 40+ percent of the college's students that receive Pell grant monies (and ultimately on the college's Federal funding), and alienates a percentage of voters as we approach the college's next bond campaign."...

"I have a lot of respect for Gene," she said in an interview. "He's had great service and dedication to the college...

Kate Chester, a PCC spokeswoman, said school did not release information about his resignation over the holidays...

The board will vote to appoint Pitts' replacement when it meets Jan. 19...

True test for sanctuary yet to come

Some of the dust has started to settle from the rush late last year for various local entities to declare their jurisdictions as sanctuaries.

In short order after the election of Donald Trump, Oregon State University, Benton County, the city of Corvallis and the Corvallis School District all adopted resolutions or issued statements in which they embraced, at least to some extent, the idea that they will not assist with federal government efforts to deport people who are not U.S. citizens.

We don't mean to underestimate the importance of these declarations, especially as they recognize and try to ease the fears among some people that they might be targeted by the actions of a Trump administration. That in itself makes these declarations worthwhile.

But let's not fool ourselves: We are hard-pressed to find, in any of the declarations, anything that wasn't already a matter of policy in these governmental jurisdictions, although the declarations might serve a useful purpose by clarifying existing policies.

Again, there is importance in that, especially if the goal is to quell fear and, even better, to reassure immigrants that they won't have to stand alone through uncertain times.

But we shouldn't be fooled into thinking that these sanctuary declarations, in this community, at this time, are acts of great courage. And let's remember this: It might be unwise to assume that approving the declarations marks the end of the story.

As The Atlantic noted in a recent story on sanctuary campuses, Trump promised on the campaign trail that sanctuary cities (and, presumably, other entities that receive federal money) would "not receive taxpayer dollars."

So, potentially what's at stake here are the millions of federal dollars that flow to entities such as OSU, the city, the county and the school district.

In theory at least, Trump can't do that by himself. It would require approval from Congress, and it could very well be that the entire pool of federal funds is not at risk: The Atlantic story noted that the reason for withholding federal funds from governments likely would have to be somehow linked to the proposed use for the money.

In the past, Democrats have stopped attempts by Republicans to strip away federal funding, but guess what: Republicans are running Congress these days, and the early indications are that GOP senators and representatives are going to give Trump wide sway, at least initially.

Now, that could change as members of Congress get bombarded by calls of protest from cities, counties and universities in their district that stand to lose millions in funding. Members of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, like to be able to bring federal bucks back to their districts, and that could prove more potent than even a series of nasty tweets from the president.

It also could be that there's safety in numbers: For example, some 400 universities, including OSU, have signed onto a petition supporting the idea of sanctuary campuses. And other communities in Oregon and across the nation have embraced the notion of sanctuary.

It could also be that Trump didn't mean what he said during the campaign about immigration. But that seems like a long shot.

So it's not at all out of the question that the administration, with assistance from a compliant Congress, will start to push on this issue. It could be, in fact, that local entities have put millions of dollars at risk by taking this stand.

In short, the time for great courage on the issue of sanctuary may yet come. It's worth asking these questions now: If that time comes, where we will stand — and what are we prepared to sacrifice? (mm)

Council postpones sanctuary city vote

A long line of public speakers gave testimonials for why the designation is needed

The Hillsboro City Council has decided to stall a decision on whether to declare itself a sanctuary city until after the new mayor and councilors get sworn in.

In a standing-room-only Civic Center auditorium Tuesday night, council members could not reach a decision whether to designate the city a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

The decision would have been the last of outgoing City Councilor Olga Acuna, who requested the vote after advocates begged the city to strengthen its stand with the Latino community last month.

In what was likely the council's most difficult decision in eight years, the council voted to table a final decision until after a new councilor is appointed to fill the seat of new Mayor Steve Callaway, who served as council president.

The city is expected to appoint a replacement on the council within the next month.

Tuesday's vote was 4-2, with councilors Acuna and Kyle Allen in favor of going forward with the sanctuary city designation.

"I'm as concerned about the future as anyone," explained Councilor Rick Van Beveren, who noted his personal regret at how the recent presidential campaign rhetoric has engendered the national Latino population. "(But) I personally align with what sanctuary city portends … (and) once we're labeled, that's it."

Callaway, who was sworn in as mayor during Tuesday's meeting, said that the postponement will allow the new council — which will oversee and adhere to the decision — time to understand what a sanctuary designation will mean for Hillsboro going forward.

The decision to wait will also gives the city time to see how the federal government responds to the many cities who have made similar declarations, Callaway said. President-Elect Donald Trump has said that he would cut off federal funding for cities that declare themselves to be sanctuaries.

"Sanctuary city" is a legally non-binding term used by cities to indicate they will protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Oregon has had sanctuary laws in place since the 1980s, which forbid police from arresting people solely on their immigration status.

The topic of making Hillsboro a sanctuary city first arose in December, when members from community action groups WashCo Solidarity and Voz Hispana Cambio Comunitario demanded the council declare the city a sanctuary in order to send a message to Latino residents that they will be protected, specifically from immigration officials.

Instead, that night the council read a statement affirming its commitment to keeping Hillsboro "a safe city for all" — without formally declaring itself a sanctuary.

That decision didn't sit well with sanctuary proponents. On Tuesday, more than 20 people spoke out, offering testimonials to the council as to why the designation is needed.

"The community wouldn't be asking for sanctuary if the city was safe already," Unite Oregon member Carmen Madrid told the council.

That sentiment was echoed by many in the crowd. One woman said she had lived in the city for 15 years, but no longer felt safe.

"You're either for us or against us," another speaker said.

Resident Jose Jaime told the council that stalling the decision was sending a message of its own to Hillsboro's Latino population, which make up about a quarter of the city's population, according to the U.S. Census.

"You threw the Latino community under the bus (with the vote to table)," he said.

Not everyone in the audience was in favor of the proposal, however. Some spoke out against accepting illegal immigration as standard practice.

One speaker said he was against the sanctuary designation because "the people who are afraid are breaking the law."

"If the council vindicates (the law breakers), you'll be breaking the oath you just took," he told the council.

The council is expected to vote on the issue in February. The city is currently accepting applications to fill the council's open seat.

OFIR meeting - Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
January 8, 2016
Alert body: 

Plan to join us for our upcoming OFIR membership meeting this Saturday, January 14 from 2:00 - 4:00pm at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn across from Costco in Salem, OR.

Learn what the future may hold with a Trump presidency.  We will be discussing local election results, as well.  There is reason for hope in our immigration efforts.

The Oregon Legislature will start the 2017 session next month.  Find out what's in the hopper and what OFIR members can do to get involved.

OFIR President, Cynthia Kendoll traveled with Center for Immigration Studies for a week long intensive study of the northeastern US /Canadian border.  She will give a photo presentation and discussion of her trip.

Invite a friend, relative, neighbor or co-worker to join you! 

 

 

 

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