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Action on tuition bill set Friday

In-state tuition for students without immigration documents is on a fast track in the Oregon House.

After hearing testimony for two hours Wednesday, mostly from supporters, the House Higher Education Committee plans to consider action Friday on House Bill 2787. Approval would advance it to a vote of the full House, which shelved similar bills in 2003 and 2011 after they passed the Senate.

Hugo Nicolas, who testified for similar legislation two years ago while a senior at McNary High School, spoke in favor of the current bill. He is attending Chemeketa Community College and working at two jobs, hoping to transfer to the University of Oregon and then return to Salem.

“I deserve a shot at the American dream,” he told the committee. “Let me enhance my talents. Today we may be undocumented, but tomorrow, we want to lead the way to be the next generation of entrepreneurs that will energize this state.”

Edith Gomez is a sophomore at the University of Oregon, but only because her visa status was changed and she was granted special permission for in-state rates that are a third of out-of-state rates.

“I can’t help but think of others who are not so lucky,” she said.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, is the chief Senate sponsor of the current bill and also sponsored Oregon’s first such bill in 2003 at the request of Woodburn High School’s principal.

“It would be a great disservice to our state and our people if we allow the next generation of brilliant minds to go uncultivated simply because we refuse to acknowledge they are as much a part of Oregon as much as we are and our kids are,” he said.

Courtney said that students without immigration documents are simply not attending state universities.

But Gabriela Morrongiello, a sophomore at Oregon State University and chairwoman of its Young Americans for Freedom chapter, argued that lawmakers should not defy a 1996 federal law.

“Should the Oregon Legislature ignore federal law and confer such privileges, it must also give the same benefits to out-of-state students” such as herself, who is from California. “Failure to do so may result in a class-action lawsuit.”

Twelve states, including California and Washington, have such laws.

Cynthia Kendoll of Salem, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, questioned some provisions of the bill relating to how students prove they are seeking legal status in the United States.

“Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait until the federal immigration issue is resolved before pushing to pass a state law that could easily contradict the federal law?” she asked. “Banking on a federal amnesty to make enforceable the provisions of this bill is reckless and shortsighted.”

Kendoll also complained afterward that aside from her group and three public opponents, most of the testimony was given by the bill’s supporters. Three hundred students, mostly in support, filled overflow rooms and part of the galleria.
 

Kitzhaber to back bill on immigrant tuition

Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected today to put his political weight behind a bill allowing in-state tuition rates to state university students who lack immigration documents.

He is scheduled to be joined by speakers for Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Association, Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Association of Nurseries — and the three leaders of the House Higher Education Committee, which will take up House Bill 2787 for its first public hearing on Wednesday.

Among its sponsors are Chairman Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and the vice chairmen, Republican Rep. John Huffman of The Dalles and Democratic Rep. Chris Harker of Beaverton.

Kitzhaber took no public stance on a similar bill two years ago, when it passed the Senate but died without a vote in an equally split House. But when he presented his two-year budget on Nov. 30, Kitzhaber said he would sign such a bill.

The current bill is similar in that it requires residency in Oregon for three years before high school graduation, graduation from high school in Oregon, and steps toward legal status in the United States. The latter would be in the form of affidavits filed with the state university attesting to applications for legal status or an intent to apply for it as soon as someone is eligible.

It also provides for a direct challenge of the law before the Oregon Supreme Court.

A similar law was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2010, and the U.S. Supreme Court let it stand in 2011 when the justices declined to hear an appeal by opponents.

Although he is a sponsor of the bill, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said legislative leaders have agreed it is up to the House to act first this session. The Senate passed bills in 2003 and 2011, but each died in the House.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states — including Washington and California — have laws allowing in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. Two states have done so through other means.

Four states specifically ban such rates, and two others bar enrollment of any students who cannot prove legal presence in the United States.

The political battle lines in Oregon will be the same as in 2011.

Immigrant-rights groups and student groups will support the bill. A comprehensive federal immigration bill could make action by states unnecessary, but as Causa Oregon’s Erik Sorensen said, “I do not anticipate Congress is going to have anything that soon.”

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which has been critical of federal immigration policy, will oppose it again. But Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman for the group, said opponents will emphasize arguments that the bill would be a money loser for the state because higher out-of-state tuition rates would not apply to those students.

Given that Democrats have majorities in both chambers this session, Ludwick said, “it’s going to be tough for us.”

What’s next

The House Higher Education Committee will conduct a public hearing on House Bill 2787, which grants in-state tuition rates to state university students without immigration documents, at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Hearing Room D in the Capitol. Overflow rooms are likely to be designated.

The committee plans a “work session” Friday, when it could advance the bill to a vote of the full House.
Follow all our political and state government coverage on the Oregon Politics Watch blog, StatesmanJournal.com/politics

Calendar

Selected legislative committee meetings and other events this week. Agendas are subject to change; for updates, call the numbers listed or see the Oregon Legislature’s website at www.leg.state.or.us.

Wednesday

House Higher Education: 8 a.m., Hearing Room D. Public hearing on House Bill 2787, allowing in-state tuition rates for university students without immigration documents. (503) 986-1664.

Feb. 13 - Hearing on HB 2787 - instate tuition for illegal aliens

Alert date: 
2013-02-10
Alert body: 

On Wednesday, February 13 at 8:00am, the Higher Education Committee will hear testimony regarding HB 2787 - giving instate tuition benefits to students illegally in the country.  Testimony will be accepted from both proponents and opponents.  If you would like to testify about this bill, get there early to sign in.

If you don't want to testify, but would like to show your support for those who are testifying against this misguided legislation, please join us in Hearing Room D at the Capitol Building before 8:00am.  Bring quarters for the meter.

Most likely, proponents of the bill will bus in hundreds of kids (taking them out of school), to overwhelm the hearing rooms and create the appearance of a majority.  In the past, I have asked several of the children why they were at the Capitol...they didn't even know...but they were excited to be able to skip school to be there.

 

 

Do you think Congress should create a path to citizenship for "Dreamers"?

Poll: Do you think Congress should create a path to citizenship for "Dreamers," illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age?

Yes 455 (15%)

No 2476 (81%)****

Undecided 119 (3%)

Other 23 (0%)

 

Congress...are you listening?

Elizabeth Van Staaveren hits the nail on the head with her message of attrition through enforcement in her recent letter published in the Statesman Journal.  Let your elected officials know that another sweeping amnesty solves nothing.  True enforcement of existing laws is where we begin solving the illegal immigration issue.

Guzzardi shines a light on the lies

Senior Writing Fellow Joe Guzzardi, of CAPS, lets the light shine on the empty promises and dirty dealing surrounding the President's proposed sweeping amnesty proposal.  Read the full article.
 

OFIR meeting Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
2013-02-02
Alert body: 

The news media has painted a bleak picture for those of us that believe in secure borders, American sovereignty and the rule of law. But, as we had hoped, many of those that got caught up in the amnesty frenzy are beginning to feel uncomfortable with their decisions. People like us must continue to point out the errors in their thinking and the consequences of their actions on our country and our citizens.

Please join OFIR Saturday, February 9 at 2:00pm and learn how to channel that frustration into positive actions that just might make a difference. Remember, too...elections come every 2years...no one is permanent. Bring a friend to the meeting at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn just across from Costco in Salem, OR.

 

We the people have an opinion...are you listening?

While the following poll is not scientific and the question offered gives a limited number of choices, it seems clear what the public is thinking.

Enforce the law!  It's against the law to hire an illegal alien to work for you.  If illegal aliens could not find a job here, they would likely move on, or return to their native country.

It's quite telling that the Oregon Legislature, in the past, has refused to even hear a bill that was written requiring all state employers to use the FREE, 99.6% accurate and easy to use E-Verify matching program.  In other words, if the State of Oregon, using taxpayer money, needs to hire someone for a job, they are not required to be certain they are hiring a LEGAL worker.  How ridiculous is that? With over 160,000 unemployed Oregonians, wouldn't you think the State should hire one of those workers and not an illegal alien?

The bill has been posted again for the upcoming 2013 session of the Oregon Legislature.  House Bill 2358 is sponsored by Representative Thatcher, Representatives Weidner and Whisnant.

Please, contact your Legislator and ask them to support this bill.  It's a no cost solution to a problem that is only getting bigger everyday.

If they don't hear from you, they will succumb to the pressure of the pro-illegal alien advocacy groups that are pushing for even more rights and benefits for foreign nationals illegally present in our country.

StatesmanJournal.com

POLL RESULTS

YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Which immigration reform proposed by the White House or Senate is most important to you?

- Providing those in the U.S. illegally a path to become citizens – 1.9%

- Strengthening border security — 31.1%

- Cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants – 52.4%

- Streamlining the legal immigration system – 1.2%

- All of the above – 12.2%

- None of the above – 1.3%

(Yesterdays online poll results appeared in the January 31, 2013 hardcopy Statesman Journal newspaper.)

The one billion dollar elephant in the room

OFIR Vice President Rick LaMountain hit the nail on the head again in this just published article.

Poll results don't support Legislature's plans

These are the final results of the Statesman Journal’s online poll yesterday. Results were printed in the hardcopy edition of the newspaper today, January 28, 2013. The paper’s practice is to give results in the print edition the day after each poll closes, and results are not posted online after the poll has closed.

Statesman Journal, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, p.5C (editorial page)

POLL RESULTS TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Should immigrants in Oregon be allowed to pay in-state college tuition if they met these conditions?

- 3 years in Oregon high school

- Graduation from Oregon High school

- Admission to a state university

- Actively working toward U.S. citizenship

Yes 31.5%

No 66.6%

Don’t Know 1.4%

Don’t Care 0.5%

---------------------------------

Several OFIR members objected to the wording of the question, which omitted the word “illegal” in referring to immigrants. In the context of the paper’s recent coverage of immigration issues, it is reasonable to assume the question meant illegal immigrants, and most viewers read the question that way. Of course the question should have been made clear to all by specifically referring to illegal immigrants, not just “immigrants.”

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