legislature

OFIR VP calls on citizens to help stop "emergency clause" abuse

OFIR Vice President Richard LaMountain, in a recent letter in the Beaverton Valley Times, urges citizens to sign an initiative petition that would put a measure on the ballot to end the overuse and downright abuse of the "emergency clause". 

Used most frequently to stop citizen's from overturning, via a citizen's veto referendum, legislation they feel is harmful to the state, the "emergency clause" has now become the norm in ramming through controversial legislation.

Learn more at:   nofakeemergencies.com


 

United Way helps fill financial needs for Latino school health program

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories about United Way-funded agencies and the people they serve. United Way of Lane County is in the midst of its annual fall fundraising campaign.

University of Oregon freshman Karla Mercado, 18, leaned back in a couch at North Eugene High School.

“Financially, it has always been a struggle,” she said. “Because of this program, I had one less worry growing up.”

Mercado is speaking about the Soy Sano/I Am Healthy program, a service at the health centers at North Eugene and Churchill high schools. The Eugene School District program has provided everything from medical checkups and immunizations to dental and vision help, mostly free of charge to Mercado, who grew up in Eugene and attended North Eugene .

Motivated in part by her experience at the clinic, Mercado now is taking classes at the University of Oregon to pursue a career in education. And she’s paying for her education in part by working at St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, the nonprofit human services organization.

Soy Sano targets a special population in Lane County: Latino youth who lack U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status — and therefore cannot get government-funded health insurance. It also serves other young people who do not have or do not qualify for public health insurance.

Mercado knows what it’s like to lack health insurance. She previously was an illegal immigrant; her status is now legal under a federal temporary permit program, and she is officially allowed to work.

The Soy Sano/I Am Healthy program began in 2010, paid for by a two-year pilot grant from the Oregon Legislature. With the backing of several local groups, the agency managed to keep its doors open even after the original grant funding ended in 2012.

Help is on the way

The funding is part of a broader, ongoing push by lawmakers to provide more help to illegal immigrants, especially youth who were brought into the United States illegally by their also-illegal parents.

In 2013, the Legislature approved a bill allowing some young illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates — as opposed to the much-higher out-of-state rates — at Oregon’s public universities.

In 2014, lawmakers approved giving Oregon drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants, although voters statewide overwhelmingly overturned that change in November 2014. In this year’s legislative session, lawmakers opened some state-funded college scholarships to illegal immigrants.

In its first year of operation, Soy Sano/I Am Healthy helped provide comprehensive health services to 1,250 low-income children in Lane County who were born outside the United States, are in the country illegally and do not qualify for public health insurance, according to Eugene School-Based Health Center data.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy estimates there are 17,600 illegal immigrant children statewide.

Soy Sano has found that during the past couple of years, because of the expansion of the publicly funded Oregon Health Plan under the federal Affordable Care Act, fewer legal residents need the program’s help. But many hundreds of illegal immigrant children continue to lack insurance.

The program served 710 young clients in the 12 months ending in June.

Covering the children

The Affordable Care Act has not had much effect on health services for illegal immigrants because, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, federally funded insurance programs such as the Oregon Health Plan do not cover illegal immigrants, except in medical emergencies.

That leaves the families of illegal immigrants with the option of buying private health insurance, which is not subsidized and often expensive. Oregon is unlike Washington state, New York and Illinois, all of which provide government-­funded health insurance to illegal immigrant children within their states.

With the help of United Way of Lane County, other funding sources and community-donated resources, Soy Sano has reached its fifth year of operation, surviving even in a financially unstable climate.

“For many of these students, it’s very difficult,” said Beto Montes, the program’s bicultural outreach worker. “You come in from another country not knowing the language, the culture or the school system.”

Montes, 34 and bilingual, initially came into the United States from Mexico legally in 1990, when he was 9. He began attending the Eugene School District in fourth grade, and he received citizenship six years later because of his residency.

Montes attended the UO. He is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at Northwest Christian University in Eugene.

Montes said his priority is providing a bridge between Latino parents and children and the school district. Two students Montes work with, 18-year-olds Luis and Romero, are prime examples.

The Register-Guard is withholding their last names to protect their privacy. They lack legal immigration status. Both came to the United States with their parents from Mexico as illegal immigrants.

“I haven’t been able to find any other health sources,” said Luis in Spanish, his words translated into English by Montes. Luis, who has younger siblings in Eugene schools, said Soy Sano has been a big help in his transition to living Eugene.

Romero agreed, noting he’s been able to use the program for basic health checkups.

Under the radar

UO student Mercado said she’s been inspired by the program.

“Even if I go somewhere else, I want to be a health activist,” she said.

Mercado originally was an illegal immigrant. But she received a renewable 2-year work visa through the federal Deferred Action Through Childhood Arrivals program, which is open to illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before turning 16, who are 30 or younger and have lived within the country for the past five years, and who are attending school or serving in the military.

The health-care challenges facing illegal-immigrant children often go unnoticed in the broader community, said Maxine Proskurowski, the school district’s health service program manager.

“The community doesn’t see a need because these kids don’t show up at (health care providers),” said Proskurowski, noting that many illegal immigrant families don’t go to local health providers because they lack the money or insurance to cover the care.

When the Soy Sano program initially started, it received $40,920 from the Legislature in each of its first two years. That helped pay for nurse time; two part-time bilingual, bicultural outreach workers; and a portion of the coordinator’s salary.

The program was coordinated through the Community Health Centers of Lane County, the Eugene School District’s School-Based Health Centers, and Glenwood-based Planned Parenthood of Southwest Oregon.

Opening the doors

After grant funds ran out, United Way, the Eugene Education Fund, the Springfield-based PacificSource Foundation and several community outreach services stepped in to make up the difference.

Oregon Health Authority, the state’s health care department, also increased funding to the health centers. And the state office of Mental Health and Addictions awarded a grant to Lane County Behavioral Health to help cover the districts’ uninsured students.

Since 2013, United Way has provided $12,500 a year to the Eugene School District’s school-based health centers, and it promised an additional $10,000 directly to the Soy Sano program through January 2017.

“United Way has really opened the doors for us to get outside funding,” Proskurowski said. The strict application requirements and competitive process that United Way uses to choose grant recipients often encourages other grant and donor services to then financially support or donate resources to Soy Sano.

United Way “have been champions for us,” she said.

Adding dental care

Soy Sano’s clients now receive dental services through the Assistance League’s Children Dental Center at Churchill High as well as the Lane Community College Dental Hygiene Program.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” said Sharon Hagen, a dental hygiene instructor for LCC. The college receives $7,000 yearly from United Way to help cover dental checkups, mainly for illegal immigrants, and the college donates the rest of its dental services time.

Hagen said in the last school year, the program recorded 87 dental cleanings for Eugene School District students with Latino surnames. “The children in greatest need are the Hispanic children,” Hagen said.

Funding always has been touch and go.

In 2012, the Eugene district’s health centers fell behind in eligibility for state funding due in part to a lack of compliance with several new state health care mandates for record-keeping and reporting. The centers ultimately lost both state funding and funding from the school district, which had covered 80 percent of the centers’ operating costs.

Two of the centers closed, but local money has provided enough to keep the two remaining centers open. Proskurowski said the continuance of special programs such as Soy Sano hinges on school-based centers remaining open.

“The reality is, if we don’t get funding by June, the days are numbered for these (centers),” Proskurowski said.
 

Feds say WA drivers licenses won’t be good enough for airport security

Soon, Washington residents may need a passport or other federally issued identification to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings because Washington-issued licenses won’t be acceptable.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the state this week that standard driver licenses and identification cards will have to comply with federal rules requiring proof of U.S. residency or citizenship in order to be valid for federal purposes, according to the Associated Press.

The Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID program already requires states to ask for proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency for state-issued identification that would be acceptable to get into federal buildings. The same also will be required — perhaps as soon as next year — to use state-issued identification for airport security lines.

Most states do not issue drivers licenses without proof of residency or citizenship. Washington and New Mexico are the only states that issue standard driver’s licenses and identification cards regardless of U.S. residency or citizenship status. Other states, including California, issue drivers licenses to people without documentation, but the licenses and identification cards indicate that the identification card is not valid for federal purposes.

Washington had an extension to comply with the REAL ID law. But this week, the Department of Homeland Security declined to continue to Washington’s extension and gave the state three months to comply, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Licensing developed a proposal that would have continued to allow undocumented immigrant drivers to get standard licenses and expanded the state’s existing Enhanced ID program. But the proposal died in the 2015 legislative session.

In 2007, the Washington state legislature passed a bill opposing the federal REAL ID mandates.


 

Missouri GOP overrides veto of scholarship ban for students brought into country illegally

JEFFERSON CITY The Missouri House voted 114-37 to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill banning the state-funded A+ Scholarship from being awarded to undocumented immigrants.

The Missouri Senate voted to override the veto earlier in the day, so the bill becomes law.

UPDATED AT 6:40 p.m.

JEFFERSON CITY The Missouri Senate voted to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill banning the state-funded A+ Scholarship from being awarded to undocumented immigrants.

The bill now moves to the House, where 108 Republicans voted in favor when the bill originally passed earlier this year. That’s one shy of a two-thirds majority, although 11 Republicans were absent and did not vote.

At issue are students who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. It was created by President Barack Obama in 2012 to stop the deportation of children brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Because these students were brought to the U.S. as young children and are undocumented through no fault of their own, DACA allows them to legally live, work and study in the U.S. It does not, however, create a path to citizenship.

In response to the federal government’s action, the Missouri Department of Higher Education established a rule last year stating that because the students were now lawfully present in the U.S., they were eligible for the A+ Scholarship.

As long as the students have attended a Missouri high school for three years and graduated with a 2.5 GPA, a 95 percent attendance record and 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring, they qualify for the state-funded scholarship.

Supporters of the bill say it’s unfair for students who are in the country illegally to receive the scholarship when money for the program is tight.

“I am protecting the citizens and permanent residents of this state right now,” said Sen. Gary Romine, a Farmington Republican who sponsored the bill.

Opponents say these students were brought to the U.S. as young children and are in the country illegally through no fault of their own. The students in question kept their grades up, volunteered in their community and stayed out of trouble, advocates say, most while learning English as a second language.

“Why are we punishing children for a fault of their parents?” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a University City Democrat whose district includes the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, said the Legislature’s priorities are out of whack.

”People are dying in my district every day,” she said, “and we’re arguing about who gets a scholarship?”

The House is expected to take up the bill tonight.

What will it take to stop the arrogance?

Just when we think many of those in the Oregon Legislature can't get any more arrogant - they surprise us and play the "pathetic" trump card. 

Example:  HB 4054A - a new bill designed to re-write the ballot language of the veto refernedum on SB 833.

Read OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll's guest opinion published in the Oregonian.  We encourage you to post a comment, as well.

Driver card referendum: Oregon Legislature could rewrite ballot title

SALEM -- The Oregon Legislature could rewrite the title of a contentious measure on the November ballot asking voters whether to grant driver cards to residents who can’t prove they’re in the state legally.

Legislative leaders will likely decide in the next week or so whether to take that step, said Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson, D-Portland, and other sources....

Three groups have challenged the ballot title and other parts of the measure before the Oregon Supreme Court, but legislators may try to step in before their 35-day session ends. Opponents say the Legislature shouldn’t interfere...

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, which gathered signatures to send the issue to voters, accused lawmakers of overstepping.

“Just when it looks like we might be successful with this, these legislators are kind of pulling a desperate move to see if they can’t rewrite the rules of the game,” she said. “I don’t think the people who wrote and passed the law should be the people writing the ballot title.”...

 

Mark your calendar - Tuesday, February 25

Alert date: 
February 19, 2014
Alert body: 

Join Oregonians for Immigration Reform and Protect Oregon Driver Licenses at the Oregon State Capital as we gather to host the War Room.

If you have never heard of the War Room, if you have never spent time at the Capitol, if you are uncomfortable being in the Capitol when you are there, I encourage you to drop in and spend some time with us.

This is the place to be to learn about all things related to the Legislature. How a bill is written, moved through the Legislature, sent to Committee, debated and voted upon or killed. This session, there are no immigration bills being introduced, so it's the perfect opportunity to get comfortable being in the building and meeting and visiting with other activists that care about Oregon as much as you do.

The doors will be open from 8am – 5pm and you may arrive and depart at any time. We will be in Room 243 at the State Capitol. You can ask for directions at the kiosk in the lobby.

The parking meters are $1.50 per hour or you can purchase an all-day pass for $15.00.

Parking tickets are $30.00 so don't let your meter expire.

SPECIAL NOTE: We have arranged to meet with two of the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses Chief Petitioners so that we may thank them in person for their support of the veto referendum to overturn SB 833 – the new law granting state issued ID in the form of a driver privilege card to illegal aliens in Oregon.

If possible, plan to be there for one or both of these appointments:

Rep. Kim Thatcher - 9:45am & Rep Sal Esquivel – 12:30pm

If you know for certain you will be joining us – drop us a line. Otherwise just drop in anytime.

Had enough? Want to get involved? Learn how this Saturday!

Alert date: 
January 22, 2014
Alert body: 

SOUND AWESOME? ...IT IS! Attend the Western Liberty Network's Second Annual Leadership and Training Conference and Expo.

The event's theme is “TAKE THE OFFENSIVE!” and will start at 9:00AM on Saturday, January 25th, 2014 at the Sheraton Airport Hotel located at 8235 NW Airport Way in Portland.

You can take in a full day of training that will give you the tools you need to be a more effective activist or volunteer. Additional courses will be offered to those interested in applying or running for local public office, those interested in building their local grassroots organizations, and for veterans who want to participate more effectively in the communities they helped to protect.  Cynthia Kendoll - OFIR President and Authorized Agent for the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses successful veto referendum campaign, will be speaking about how to manage a grassroots referendum or initiative campaign. Click on the agenda link for time and location of each break out session.

Before the debate, awards will be presented to leading activists and grass roots organizations.

STOP PLAYING DEFENSE...learn how you can go on the offense to create the change we are all working toward.

On January 25th you can see the first major US Senate candidate debate of 2014 hosted by national news personality Lars Larson. You can also see presentations by candidates running for Oregon governor, and enjoy a Mexican buffet lunch prepared by an award winning restaurant.

KXL Radio, the Lars Larson Show, Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon Capitol Watch, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, I-Spy Radio, and author and entrepreneur Sam Carpenter are sponsoring the debate. The night before the conference there will be a reception at the hotel free to all registrants featuring live music and hot appetizers. This promises to be the premiere grass roots training event of the year. Registrants can submit questions to be asked during the debate and will assist in enforcing time limits. This is going to be a FUN, INFORMATIVE, and INSPIRING.

To REGISTER, click HERE or go to the www.westernlibertynetwork.org website to download a full agenda and click on the “REGISTER NOW” button when you are ready to register.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Driver's card issue now a waiting game

For a litany of volunteers, this was a week of hopes realized and hopes dashed.

On Monday, the Secretary of State’s Election Office began scrutinizing referendum petitions submitted by the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform and the paid private firm Signature Gathering Company of Oregon.

The OFIR group hopes to have collected 58,142 valid signatures to qualify Referendum No. 301 for the November 2014 ballot. It believes residents, not lawmakers, should decide whether the state should issue driver-privilege cards to individuals without DMV-required documentation, such as a birth certificate or passport. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833 in May, which authorizes the issuance of driver’s-privilege cards beginning in January.

OFIR had volunteers witness the elections staff as it started the certification process. The elections office accepted the petitions Oct. 4 and has 30 days to determine whether a representative sample validates the referendum for next year’s ballot. It is too early to know if the group has enough valid signatures, but its president, Cynthia Kendoll, believes it does because more than half of the petitions are “e-sheets,” or single-signature pages printed out by the voter, signed and then mailed back to the group.

Volunteers from other groups such as CAUSA Oregon and the Oregon Safe Roads Coalition also observed the election office staff at work. These groups had individuals on hand to ensure that the signature-vetting process was handled correctly because they hope the petition for the referendum fails to qualify for the ballot.

They had previously welcomed the governor’s signature on SB 833.

Many of these individuals don’t see the issue as a de facto immigration policy, but believe it makes the roads safer for all Oregonians.

Ron Louis, a 33-year veteran of law enforcement and retired chief of police in Hillsboro, doesn’t want to wade into the immigration debate. He doesn’t believe the driver-privilege card is an inroad to granting anyone in the country illegally the rights afforded U.S. citizens. He views the cards as a matter of public safety, and he points to their success in other states such as Maryland, New Mexico, Utah and Washington as validation for his point of view.

“It just allows anyone without the typical documentation to drive and get insurance. And it puts them through a testing process that hopefully makes them safer driver,” Louis said. “It ensures that they minimally understand rules and road signs, and I’d much rather have every driver alongside me have this education.”

 

Group delivers petitions to force vote on driver-privilege cards

Volunteers and others supporting Oregonians for Immigration Reform tried to pile seven boxes laden with signed petitions onto a hand-truck Thursday and then gave up.

They could only get four on the handled dolly, so they grabbed the remaining three boxes and headed for the fifth floor of the Oregon Public Services building because they weren’t going to give up on their mission – delivering 60,000 signatures to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office one day before the deadline.

The heavy lifters included the group’s president, Cynthia Kendoll and her husband, Jerry, volunteer Jim Ludwick, Lee Vasche of the Signature Gathering Company of Oregon and Oregon Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford. Their delivery, they said, was the first of two. The group expects to deliver another 10,000 to 12,000 signed petitions today, about 60 minutes before the elections division closes.

The OIR goal, Kendoll said, is to overturn a new Oregon law granting driver-privilege cards to residents without documentation. If the group does not have enough valid signatures to qualify Referendum No. 301 for the November 2014 ballot, the new law will go into effect in January.

Kendoll estimates the group will have more than 70,000 signatures to ensure it meets the state’s 58,142 valid-signature requirement. As the group exited the building, additional volunteers were still offering clipboards with petitions to passers-by on the steps of the state Capitol.

Motivating them is Oregon Senate Bill 833, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law in May in front of thousands of supporters at the Capitol. The bill authorizes driver’s cards for those lacking documents to obtain a regular driver’s license. Kitzhaber said at the time that SB 833 ensured that thousands of Oregonians could drive to and from work, school, church and errands.

OIR contends, however, that the law gives driver privilege cards to people who are in the country illegally. It wants voters to decide the issue, not lawmakers.

Cynthia Kendoll said she’s confident the group will qualify the measure for the ballot. The group has had four months to collect the signatures, and used a combination of paid signature gatherers and volunteers. She’s optimistic, she said, because the group has had requests for referendum sheets from 134 Oregon cities and communities, and more than half of the petitions are what she calls “single-signer sheets”

“That means that people are going to their own computers and printing off a petition from our website, signing it and then mailing it to us,” Cynthia Kendoll said. “These carry a high validity rate.”

Summer Davis, a compliance specialist with the SOS elections division, confirmed that e-sheets, as they’re officially called, have a higher validity rate.

“Think about it: when people print out a petition, they then give it to someone they know, there is no stranger coming at them asking them to sign something. It’s true they tend to be valid more often,” Davis said.

After getting a “letter of receipt” from the elections division, the group watched as a worker locked the boxes in a cage. They were told the others will be added to the cage when they’re received, and then the elections department will have 30 days to certify the petitions. If the group meets the 58,142 signature threshold, the law will not go into effect as planned.

The certification will begin between 1 and 1:30 p.m. Monday in the building’s basement. Observers are welcome with advance notice, the group was told, to which Cynthia promptly asked, “Can I ask to attend now?”
 

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