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Senators aim to reach bipartisan immigration deal next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight senators aim to cap months of talks next week with a comprehensive deal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, a member of the bipartisan group said on Thursday.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a longtime reform advocate, said once the agreement is done, aides will draw up legislation that could be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in April.

"That's our goal," Menendez told Reuters. "We hope to agree on all of the major issues, hopefully, by the end of next week. But it could slip a bit," he said, perhaps by a couple of days or so.

"I'm not rigid about anything other than getting it right," Menendez said.

The timetable Menendez spelled out mirrored one that the group suggested earlier this year. It said it aimed to have a bill in March and a vote by the full Democratic-led Senate in June or July.

The eight senators - four Democrats and four Republicans - announced a "framework for comprehensive immigration reform" in January and have been working to flesh it out.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of them living in the shadows while seeking work and trying to avoid detection.

The eight senators have tried to draft a plan that would include a pathway toward U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants while strengthening border security.

They also want to create a more effective system to guard against U.S. employers hiring undocumented immigrants, and develop a program to better forecast and meet future U.S. workforce needs in a bid to curb illegal immigration.

The eight senators came together shortly after the November 2012 election results reflected the growing power of Hispanic voters and their pleas for immigration reform.

"There have been hard and tough negotiations, but it has been done all in the spirit of achieving the goal, in which compromise has been made on both sides," Menendez said.

The senators have worked with the encouragement of the White House and reached out to members of the Republican-led House of Representatives.

This week Obama met separately with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, mainly to talk about budget deficit concerns. But immigration reform also was discussed.

On Wednesday, Obama told a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats that immigration was "'something that we can get done,'" Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland said.

On Thursday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a member of the group of eight, said he thanked Obama for "playing a role that's behind the scenes."

Flake said the issue of future immigration to the United States is a sticking point for Democrats, and that Obama could build support for that part of the pending immigration bill.
 

HB 2787 - express yourself at the Capitol - March 19th @ 1:00pm

Alert date: 
March 6, 2013
Alert body: 

If you traveled to the Capitol early in the morning for the opportunity to testify against HB 2787 last time and never got to speak, there is another chance.  The bill giving instate tuition benefits to illegal aliens has passed the House and moved to the Senate.  The Senate has announced that there will be a hearing on HB 2787 at 1:00pm on Tuesday, March 19 in Hearing Room C.  Bring quarters for the meter ($1.50 an hour).

This bill is misguided and unfair to US citizens from other states that would like the opportunity to attend an Oregon University.  Please, take the time to come to Salem, testify or lend support to those who do.  If you have questions about what to do, please call 503.435.0141.

Your Legislator is under constant pressure from illegal alien advocates to cave in to their demands.  Ask your Legislator to stop this bill in its tracks.  Oregon should not be usurping Federal law to grant benefits to a special group of illegal alien students.

Immigrant tuition equity bill is not an equitable solution

Passage of the so-called tuition equity bill was neither surprising nor equitable.

Tears flowed, children were paraded to the Oregon House floor and galleries to witness their “historic” moment and representatives employed hyperbole alleging that through no fault of their own, these students cannot afford college. Headlines the next day obliged this sensational spin on a complex issue.

I don’t feel sorry for these youngsters or guilty about their situation. I saw possibility in their faces and I feel pride for a country where the mistakes of parents cannot dim the hope of a child to follow the American dream.

The federal government has failed to protect our borders and enforce a sane immigration policy. Oregon hasn’t done much better. But can we ignore the sheer numbers of undocumented folks in our communities? The “round ’em up and send ’em back” mentality is not only ridiculous in the Willamette Valley, it smells of bigotry.

The reality is, despite shoddy immigration practices and the difficulty of raising a family under a dark cloud of illegal residency, we have an undeniable mass of undocumented citizens the majority of whom are hardworking, honest neighbors.

They’ve been here a long time and have provided much of the work force that sustains our region’s agricultural foundation. They’ve done back-breaking work and many now manage farms, nurseries or work in numerous vocations. Are we surprised that now their children and grandchildren want a higher education and to attend football games as bona fide Ducks or Beavers?

Republicans and Democrats are ready to offer in-state tuition to these children but the bill was rushed to the floor last week and is deeply flawed.

Addressing fairness for some while disallowing provisions for veterans currently ineligible for in-state tuition or ignoring American students now paying out-of-state tuition is not fair at all. The bill received one two-hour public hearing, thereby disallowing many to even testify. Some amendments were allowed but efforts for substantive improvement were largely ignored and I couldn’t support it as written.

The debate barely acknowledged impending federal immigration policy now boiling over in Washington, D.C. and the effect on Oregon. The fiscal analysis was pathetically vague and testimony about projected costs ranged from negligible to millions of dollars of lost revenue. Further, a prudent sunset clause to re-examine this noble experiment was rejected out of hand.

Perhaps the most troubling omission is the refusal to provide clarity for students to obtain citizenship and permission to work legally during their college studies and, most importantly, after graduation. This glaring error puts the graduates and Oregon businesses in an untenable lurch.

In the quest for “historic headlines,” I fear the House of Representatives has set up to fail the very children we want to assist. I’m not fond of the phrase: “Fix it on the Senate side,” but now that may be the only hope to find tuition equity for all Oregonians and students wishing to study here.


Vic Gilliam / Special to the Statesman Journal

Rep. Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton, is a member of the House Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Development and the Committee on Human Services & Housing. He can be reached at (503) 986-1418 or Rep.VicGilliam@state.or.us.

 

Join conservatives March 8 - 10 at the Dorchester Conference

Alert date: 
March 1, 2013
Alert body: 

The Dorchester Conference is your opportunity to speak to dozens of conservative lawmakers from here in Oregon and from Washington DC.

The conference will be held in Seaside, OR at the Seaside Convention Center March 8 - 10...Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday morning.  If you don't want to pay to attend the conference, just visit the exhibit hall and and see all the booths packed with information.  Legislators, Congressman, past Governors, and many political candidates will be there, too.

They are anxious to talk with you and share their ideas and hear yours.

Plan to come for the day...or the whole weekend. 
 

OSU student spells out the flawed thinking of the instate tuition benefit - HB 2787

Gabriella Morrongiello, a sophomore at Oregon State University, and chairman of the OSU Young Americans for Freedom testified before the House Committee of Higher Education at the hearing for HB 2787.  She was poised and eloquent.  Following her testimony she submitted an article about the proceedings to the Barometer (the OSU campus paper), who felt it was too controversial to publish. 

So, she submitted the article to the New Guard which is the national blog sponsored by the Young America's Foundation.  Read Gabriella's article here.

 

Polls should be considered by Legislators

While not scientific, anyone can respond to the frequent polls offered in newspapers across the country.  But, when the results are the same time and time again, shouldn't Oregon Legislators factor these results into their decision making? 

It would be a welcome change if many of the people elected to represent us, actually did!

The World

Should illegal immigrants be allowed to pay in-state tuition to Oregon universities, if they graduated from Oregon high schools?

February 25, 2013

POLL RESULTS

- Yes. Educating these kids is in Oregon's economic interest [Votes 157 or 23%].

- No. We should not subsidize people who are in this country illegally [Votes 484 or 70%].

- Not yet. But if federal law grants them some kind of amnesty, then yes [Votes 47 or 7%].

http://theworldlink.com/news/local/should-illegal-immigrants-be-allowed-to-pay-in-state-tuition/poll_6f15cb7e-7c53-11e2-929c-0019bb2963f4.html

 


 

Tuition equity bill goes to Senate

In-state tuition for immigrant students without documents, which made it through the Oregon House by a big vote Friday, drew differing reactions from participants in the long-running debate.

“I can finally go home, look my parents in the eye and say, ‘Mom and Dad, I can go to a four-year college,’” said Hugo Nicolas, a Chemeketa Community College student who was one of many students present in the House gallery for the vote.

“It means more freedom for me — and more responsibility,” said Nicolas, who testified last week for passage of House Bill 2787. “So I’m going to have to work harder to shoulder my investment.”

A 2011 graduate of McNary High School, Nicolas hopes to transfer to the University of Oregon, where he plans to study economics and Chinese.

Victor Mena was able to transfer from Portland Community College to Portland State University, where he is studying criminal justice and hopes to join the Navy.

“I grew up here ever since I was 3,” said Mena, whose change of visa allowed him to attend Portland State. “Maybe tuition equity does not affect me anymore, but it will definitely affect a lot of other potential students.”

The 38-18 vote moved the bill to the Senate, where Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said, “it’s likely to pass — they’ve got the numbers.”

The Senate passed similar bills in 2003 and 2011, but the House let them die without a vote. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, is the chief Senate sponsor of the current bill.

They are cowards using children as their shields to get something like this through,” Ludwick said after the vote. “This is just a denigration of the value of citizenship.”

Ludwick said immigrant students without legal presence can attend state universities now at out-of-state rates, which are three or four times higher than in-state rates that are partly subsidized by the state.

Although the bill does not make them eligible for state grants, Ludwick said, “Does anyone doubt that is the next step?”

The bill would allow state universities to charge in-state tuition if students meet specified conditions, including five years in U.S. schools and three in Oregon, graduation from high school or its equivalent in Oregon, and proof of intent to seek citizenship or legal status in the United States.

“They did not choose to come here; they were brought here,” said Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, the bill’s floor manager. “They have no other country to go to, but they have plenty to offer this state. Unfortunately, they have become collateral damage of this country’s immigration debate.”

The bill was backed by the Oregon University System, student and immigrant-rights groups, and the state’s major business associations.

“It brings hope to current and former students in my hometown,” said Rep. Betty Komp,D-Woodburn, whose House district is the only one in the 2010 Census to have a majority of racial and ethnic minorities.

Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, said critics’ arguments that the university system would lose income from out-of-state tuition rates are wrong: these immigrant students are not attending and paying now. “You can’t lose something you don’t already have,” he said.

The House, on a party-line vote, defeated a Republican-backed substitute that would have set an expiration date, limited in-state tuition to those already here on the date it takes effect, and required students to be enrolled in a federal program for delayed deportations.

“It holds the university system to the same standard that all of our employers must comply with,” said Rep. Gene Whisnant,R-Sunriver.

The state bill would not by itself confer the authority for students to seek work permits in the United States.

But under a program of delayed deportations approved by President Barack Obama last year for those who arrived illegally in the United States as children, known by its acronym DACA, some participants are eligible for work permits. The state bill would recognize participation in the federal program as their proof of intent to seek legal status.

Five Republicans, including Rep. Vicki Berger of Salem, joined 33 Democrats to pass the bill.

Among those voting for it were Democratic Reps. Joe Gallegos of Hillsboro and Jessica Vega Pederson of Portland. Republican Rep. Sal Esquivel of Medford voted no.

Twelve other states, including Washington and California, have similar laws. A federal Dream Act — which passed the U.S. House in 2010 but died after a filibuster threat in the Senate — could become part of federal immigration legislation in the works.

Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is en route to Washington, D.C., for a conference, said he looks forward to signing the bill.

“By removing roadblocks to their post-secondary education, we open new opportunities to them and the opportunity for our state to capitalize on the investment we've made in these students through the K-12 system,” he said in a statement.

Hugo Nicolas, of Salem, testifies before the Oregon House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development at a public hearing on House Bill 2787, which would allow some students without immigration documents to qualify for in-state tuition rates. / KOBBI R. BLAIR / Statesman Journal

How they voted

How Mid-Valley representatives voted on House Bill 2787, which allows in-state tuition rates for students without immigration documents. A proposed substitute failed on a party-line vote.

Vicki Berger, R-Salem Yes
Kevin Cameron, R-Salem No
Brian Clem, D-Salem Yes
Vic Gilliam. R-Silverton No
Betty Komp, D-Woodburn Yes
Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio No
Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer Excused
Jim Thompson, R-Dallas No
Jim Weidner, R-Yamhill No

What’s next:

House Bill 2787, which passed the Oregon House on a 38-18 vote Friday, goes to the Senate. The bill is likely to be assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

Just who is the Oregon Legislature working for?

The Oregon Legislature has failed to pass a bill giving instate tuition benefits to illegal alien students for the past 10 years. Now, with the Democrats running the show, and some very misguided Republicans in their pocket, they are once again attempting to ram this bill down our throats. While this poll is not scientific, it is certainly open to anyone to express their opinion. If it's such a great idea, why does it fare so poorly in the Statesman Journal poll? Ask your Representative if they voted in favor of the HB 2787, passing it out of the House and sending it over to the Senate.

The House passed a bill allowing in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students. If it becomes law, do you believe it will be beneficial for Oregon?

Yes 13%

No 84%

Don’t Know 1%

Total Votes: 349

OFIR president to speak at Pachyderm luncheon Thursday

Alert date: 
February 18, 2013
Alert body: 

Cynthia Kendoll of Salem, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, will speak at the next luncheon of the Valley Pachyderm Club.

The luncheon will start at noon Thursday [February 22nd] at the Scottish Rite Center, 4090 Commercial St. SE, Salem. Reservations are requested by Wednesday; call (503) 585-9525 or email robert@mosqueda.com.

OFIR has been outspoken against legislation [HB 2787 / SB 10] allowing in-state tuition rates for students in the country illegally.

 

Confidential, expensive USDA sensitivity training: ‘The Pilgrims were illegal aliens’

Footage of the United States Department of Agriculture’s compulsory “Cultural Sensitivity Training” program reveals USDA employees being instructed to refer to the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” and minorities as “emerging majorities” — at “a huge expense” to taxpayers.

The video clips were made public Thursday evening by the conservative government accountability group Judicial Watch, which obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made on May 18, 2012.

The clips star Samuel Betances — a diversity instructor with Souder, Betances and Associates — who says in the video that he got his diversity training start under former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. In the clips, Betances instructed USDA employees on the proper thinking about diversity and minorities — or, as he called them, “emerging majorities.”

Between requiring the employees to repeat that “every federal agency has discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics, Native American Indians and other groups,” and a long account of his personal history, Betances encouraged the employees to take note because the presentation is “a huge expense.”

“If you take a look at all of you here and you think about your salaries and your benefits and what you have left undone – plus my fee – plus the expense of the team that’s putting the video together, this is a huge expense,” he says in his video.

In another clip, Betances attempted to dispel the stigma of illegal immigrants by calling the Pilgrims illegal aliens.

“I want you to say that America was founded by outsiders – say that – who are today’s insiders, who are very nervous about today’s outsiders,” he said in the clip.

“I want you to say, ‘The Pilgrims were illegal aliens,’” he continued. “Say, ‘The Pilgrims never gave their passports to the Indians.’”

Throughout the session, Betances had the employees shout “Bam!” to reinforce his points.

Betances also explained in another clip Judicial Watch highlighted — from the more than three-and-a-half hour video — that he does not like the word “minorities.”

“By the way, I don’t like the word ‘minorities.’ How about ‘emerging majorities’?” he said.

At times in the video, Betances poked fun at “white males.”

“White males founded the USDA! Say ‘Thank you, white males.’ I know it got stuck, some of you couldn’t get it out,” he said to laughter. “I understand. Let’s try that again. Go ahead.”

“Notice I’m not saying, ‘Thank you for slavery, or sexism, or what happened to the indigenous Native American folks.’ I’m saying thank you for what? I’m saying, ‘Thank you for establishing the agency in which those of us that are not white males seek to play a larger role,’” Betances said in a faux giddy manner, before explaining that unity begins with gratitude, before turning to grievances. “We’ve got grievances!,” he said. “This institution, like all federal institutions, have not been fair.”

The training videos were supposed to be kept secret: Judicial Watch describes an Oct. 10, 2011 email exchange in which USDA Training Administrator Vincent Loran requested the training video from Betances and promised it will never get out.

“It will not be used for or show [sic] in any way shape or form,” Judicial Watch quotes Loran as writing…

Judicial Watch notes that in 2011 and 2012, USDA paid Betances and his firm nearly $200,000.
 

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