state legislation

Oregon minority, immigrant rights groups shape legislative agenda for 2014 and beyond

SALEM -- After a string of high-profile victories this legislative session, minority and immigrant rights groups plan to use their growing political sophistication to tackle even more in 2014 and beyond.

Legislation on sentencing reforms, racial profiling, hate crimes and policies to address racial gaps in education achievement, housing and employment are some of the topics the groups hope to advance.

These more ambitious goals come on the heels of several new state laws they pushed, including legislation that grants in-state tuition to certain undocumented Oregon high school graduates and four-year driving privileges to Oregonians who can't prove they're in the country legally. One group opposed to driver cards is gathering signatures for a possible referendum.

Read the entire Oregonian article here.

Rep. Esquivel gives Chief Petitioners view of SB 833

As Chief Petitioner on the SB 833 referendum campaign, Representative Sal Esquivel walks readers through a logical explanation of just how the bill was conceived and just how the public was deceived.  Read Rep. Esquivel's op ed in the Mail Tribune.
 

Opportunity is knocking

Alert date: 
2013-07-17
Alert body: 

Ladies and gentlemen - 'tis the season to collect signatures for the referendum to overturn SB 833 - the new law giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens.  There are so many great signature gathering opportunities in so many locations across the state.  Check out or Protect Oregon Driver Licenses website for a long list of upcoming events.

Driver Privilege Cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll explains why driver privilege cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon and learn how you can help overturn SB 833. 

Read her guest commentary in the Sunday Statesman Journal.
 

Immigration issues affected by '12 election

Supporters and opponents agree: The outcome of the 2012 election, more than anything else, shaped how the Oregon Legislature responded to immigration issues in 2013.

“With all the people who came out to vote in November, our electorate made it clear in the 2012 election what the priority was,” said Luis Guerra, the new executive director of Causa Oregon immigrant-rights group.

A new Democratic majority in the Oregon House — the Oregon Senate remained in Democratic hands — ensured passage of two state priorities for immigrant-rights groups.

One bill was for students to obtain in-state tuition rates at state universities, regardless of their immigration status, if they graduate from Oregon high schools and meet other conditions.

The Senate passed similar bills in 2003 and 2011, but both died in the House. This time, the House initiated it, and both chambers passed House Bill 2787 and the governor signed it two months into the 2013 session.

One of the celebrants was Hugo Nicolas, a 2011 graduate of McNary High School, who said the bill will make it possible for him to attend the University of Oregon.

“This means there is hope that students like me can get out and contribute to their community,” he said.

The other bill was for people to obtain four-year driver’s cards, half the eight-year driver’s license, if they passed the driving-skills and knowledge tests but could not prove legal presence in the United States.

Lawmakers had made the latter a condition in 2008 to comply with a federal law governing the use of state licenses as identification for federal purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft or entering federal buildings. The federal law, however, allows states to issue alternative identification for drivers.

A similar proposal failed to advance past a Senate committee two years ago. But backed by a coalition of business groups, Senate Bill 833 became law in a single month — and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it into law at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps.

“We shared all the stories of all the families who are affected” by both bills, Guerra said, and his group will follow a similar strategy in an attempt to persuade Oregon’s congressional delegation to back federal immigration-law changes.

However, opponents of both state bills have not given up, although they are concentrating their efforts on just one of them.

Opponents have launched a campaign to gather the 58,142 voter signatures required to put the driver’s-card law to a statewide vote. They have 90 days after the Legislature adjourns — it would have been a deadline of Oct. 5 if the session had ended Sunday — to file the signatures with the secretary of state.

“We have had an amazing response,” said Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed the bill.

“I doubt there is a town in Oregon where somebody has not requested a signature sheet. A huge number of people are outraged by this bill to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses. There is no question in my mind that if we are successful in getting on the ballot, they will revoke this bill.”

If there are enough valid signatures, the law would be suspended — it is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 — and the statewide vote would coincide with the November 2014 general election, unless lawmakers choose an earlier date.

Washington and New Mexico issue licenses without proof of legal presence; Washington has an “enhanced” license valid for federal purposes that also can be used in travel to and from Canada. Illinois will issue three-year cards in the fall, and Utah issues cards that must be renewed annually.

The in-state tuition law, which took effect July 1, also can be challenged in court. The law provides for a direct review by the Oregon Supreme Court, although the justices can delegate someone to conduct fact-finding proceedings before they hear oral arguments on the legal questions.

Such a lawsuit must be filed by Aug. 29.

Although some witnesses at Oregon legislative hearings suggested there would be a lawsuit, a similar law in California was upheld by that state’s highest court in 2010 — and the U.S. Supreme Court declined in June 2011 to hear an appeal.

“The problem is that the Supreme Court has been unwilling to hear those lawsuits,” Ludwick said. He said state laws appear to contradict a 1996 federal law that bars in-state tuition for students without immigration documents, unless the state laws waive requirements for out-of-state residents.

Oregon joined about a dozen other states with similar laws, including Washington.

Racial and ethnic minorities scored legislative victories on other matters this session:

• House Bill 2517, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows full eight-year driver’s licenses to residents of three Pacific island nations — Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and Federated States of Micronesia — who are legally allowed to live and work in the United States. Under current law, these residents of nations associated with the United States have to renew their state licenses every year, because there is no limit on their stays.

• House Bill 2611 requires health professionals regulated by specific state boards to undergo training in cultural differences in providing medical treatment. This “cultural competency” training will be set by the Oregon Health Authority.

• Senate Bill 463. signed Wednesday and taking effect Jan. 1, will require the state Criminal Justice Commission to analyze how criminal sentencing and child welfare legislation may affect racial and ethnic minorities if requested by two legislators, one from each party. The law is modeled after a 2008 Iowa law.

However, House Bill 2661 remained in the budget committee, although it did have two hearings. It would have required the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a study of the interaction of police with racial and ethnic minorities.

pwong@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6745

Ninety days sine die - the end is near

Alert date: 
2013-06-30
Alert body: 

The 2013 session of the Oregon Legislature is drawing to a close.  What that means to Protect Oregon Driver Licenses is that we have only 90 days sine die (from adjournment) to gather the 58,142 valid signatures we need to qualify and to get the SB 833 referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

So many of you are working so very hard and PODL appreciates each and every one of you.  But, now we need to really step on the gas and drive this buggy over the finish line with room to spare.

For those of you that have not yet started collecting signatures, I urge you to get started ASAP.  It's amazing to me how easy it is to collect signatures for this particular issue.  Remember, all we are doing is getting the new Legislation, SB 833 - giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens - on the ballot so that Oregon voters have the opportunity to decide if they want this kind of law in our state.

There is no need to debate the immigration issue (which takes time away from signature gathering, too). 

Simply ask:  Do you think Oregon voters should have the opportunity to vote on SB 833 - a new law giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens.

Most likely that's all you will need to say.  It's that easy!  So get out there, get going and start collecting signatures!  Our state's future depends on you!

Got to:  http://www.protectoregondl.org/announcements/tips-where-to-gather-signat... or  http://www.protectoregondl.org/announcements/upcoming-signature-gatherin... for great ideas.

Is your city or town on the honor list of signature gatherers?  If not, let us know!  http://www.oregonir.org/alerts/your-city-or-town-honor-list-get-game-today

Is our Legislature really on top of the situation?

According to a recent article in the Oregonian, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has requested additional funding to help fight the cartels in Oregon. The request has gotten new interest in the Legislature because of a recent 5 part series of articles in the Oregonian about the cartel presence in Oregon. 

Last fall, I personally invited every Sheriff in the state to attend National Sheriff's Border School in El Paso, Texas with me.  Only two Oregon law enforcement officers attended.  Sheriff Ken Matlack of Morrow County and Tim Moore, Multnomah County Under-sheriff.  We learned things that were extremely alarming and very disturbing even for the lawmen.  Above all, we learned that what happens on the border doesn't stay on the border!  It was a chilling experience filling me with a sense of responsibility to inform our lawmakers and the public. 

I brought home with me a frightening documentary about the malignant spread of cartels into Oregon and across the country. I personally met with the producer who imbedded himself in a brutal Mexican drug cartel.

Upon my return, I took the documentary to Chris Gibson, HIDTA Director, for his input.  He told me he thought the film would be of great value to the public.  I reserved the Salem Public Library and put up posters all over town.  I printed invitations that I hand delivered to every Legislator with an email follow up invitation.  Not a single Legislator attended the presentation...although about 125 citizens did and they were shocked!  They asked why no Legislators attended.

Over the next month OFIR Board members visited many Legislators and explained what is happening with the invasion of drug cartels. We provided alarming maps showing Salem, OR, our Capitol city, on one of the main cartel routes. The majority of them seemed uninterested in our information.

Because the Legislature had opened the session, I decided to bring the documentary to them.  I showed the film two separate days at the Capitol Building.   Again, personal invitations, emails and phone calls were made and not a single Legislator attended the viewing, although many citizens did. 

Oregon is in serious trouble.  Cartels have established themselves and are conducting business every single day in our state. Yet, our Legislature seems completely clueless...or are they?

In spite of our continued correspondence, personal visits and research, in its infinite wisdom the Oregon Legislature fast tracked SB 833, giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens.  The unintended consequences were never addressed and were ignored when OFIR pointed them out.  Never discussed publicly by Legislators was that one of the most prized possessions of a cartel operative is a STATE ISSUED ID and that's exactly what we will be giving them. 

Does anyone think this won't attract even more illegal alien criminals into our state, as well?

Protect Oregon Driver Licenses has filed a referendum to overturn SB 833.  Learn more about driver privilege cards for illegal aliens.

Does it take a series of articles in the Oregonian to capture the attention of the Legislature?  It shouldn't.  Legislators have had this information, courtesy of OFIR, for over 8 months now. 

Florida governor vetoes 'Dream Act' driver's license bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 5 (UPI) -- The governor of Florida has vetoed a "well-intentioned" bill that would have allowed children of undocumented immigrants to get temporary drivers' licenses.

The "Dream Act Driver License" bill had passed through both chambers of the Legislature with only two dissenting votes, The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday.

The bill used as its foundation a 2012 policy of the Obama administration that suspended for two years deportation actions against children illegally brought to the United States by their parents.

Gov. Rick Scott said lawmakers were "well-intentioned" in approving the measure, but that "it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis."

Scott said the Obama policy did not have the force of law, noting that Florida law already allows non-citizens with federal work permits to get temporary drivers licenses.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, called the governor's veto "simply unconscionable," adding that Scott had "missed an opportunity."

Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, a former Florida state legislator, said the lack of citizenship does not prevent anyone from practicing any profession regulated by the state.

"Somebody in Florida who is not yet a citizen can get a doctor's license but not a driver's license," he said. "How absurd can we be?"

Boxer Amendment: Redirect Border Funds for Immigrant Health Care

Sen. Barbara Boxer is planning an amendment to the Senate's immigration bill which would redirect funds committed to border security to reimburse state and local governments providing health care to newly legalized immigrants. Boxer plans to take $250 million, and likely much more, out of border security and use it to underwrite uninsured immigrants health care costs.

Supporters of the Senate bill have stressed repeatedly that newly legalized immigrants wouldn't be eligible for federal welfare benefits. In almost half the states, however, they would be eligible for state and local government assistance. The legalization in the Senate bill would put a strain on already stretched government budgets.

Boxer's amendment funds this assistance by using fees paid by illegal immigrants applying for legalization. Under the Senate bill currently, that money is earmarked for border security. The amendment is an admission that the rush to legalization will put a strain on taxpayers. It is also an admission that border security isn't a big priority for many of those supporting this bill.

Boxer is also seeking to allow newly legalized immigrants to access federal welfare benefits sooner. Currently, it could take up to 15 years for immigrants to access the full range of federal assistance programs. Boxer would like to reduce that by 5 years.

 

 

 

Yet another state takes the hit

Oregonians should lend a shoulder to cry on for our friends in Colorado who have just had a bill signed into law giving driver licenses to illegal aliens in their state.  Unfortunately for them, their bill was loaded with a Public Safety clause so that it can't be challenged by Colorado's citizens.

Protect Oregon Driver Licenses filed a referendum just days after a similar bill, SB 833 was signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber here in Oregon.  We intend to collect 58,142 valid signatures so that we can get this issue on the ballot and give Oregon voters a voice and a vote on whether illegal aliens should be given driver licenses so they can drive to their jobs.

Our goal is to be the domino that just won't go down in the long line of dominoes at risk of falling.  Hopefully it will cause other states to take notice...citizens can and will fight back if pushed too hard.

The fact remains that liberal Democrats and even some off track Republicans are willfully ruining our country with horrendous legislation that undermines the rule of law, rewards illegal behavior and fails to protect the citizens of this great country from the damage caused by illegal immigration.

It would be a wonderful thing if so many of our politicians would get their eye off the ballot box and get their head in the game.  Our country, and our way of life, is deteriorating at an alarming rate and many State Legislatures and Congress are so arrogant they don't notice and don't even seem to care about the damage they are causing. Their concern about being re-elected is clouding their vision.

I told my State Senator, Peter Courtney, that when he retires I hope he looks back at all the damage he has done to our state and finally sees and acknowledges the results of his efforts.  I doubt he will, but at least the idea is planted.

It's a good thing we have elections...well, at least for now.

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