News briefs: April 2013

by Melanie Davis
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Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Oregon’s Tuition Equity Bill into law April 2. Photo by Izzy Ventura Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Oregon’s Tuition Equity Bill into law April 2. Photo by Izzy Ventura
  On April 2, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed House Bill 2787, also known as the Tuition Equity bill, into law. The bill, which was passed by the Oregon House in February and the Oregon Senate in March, allows undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition if they have lived in the U.S. for five years, attended Oregon schools for three years, and graduated from an Oregon high school. They also must demonstrate that they intend to become U.S. citizens. In a release announcing the scheduling of the signing, Kitzhaber said, “Young people who work hard in our schools deserve equal access to post-secondary education, and House Bill 2787 opens up that opportunity to them. This will help our state capitalize on the investment we’ve made in these students through the K-12 system while giving them their shot at the American dream. I appreciate the hard work of so many Oregonians to make this possible.â€
At the “Coming out of the Shadows†rally at the Oregon Capitol March 26, speakers called for undocumented immigrants to have access to drivers licenses that are the same as those of other Oregonians. Photo by Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News At the “Coming out of the Shadows†rally at the Oregon Capitol March 26, speakers called for undocumented immigrants to have access to drivers licenses that are the same as those of other Oregonians. Photo by Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News
  Also on April 2, eight bipartisan legislators introduced a bill that would grant undocumented immigrants access to short-term Oregon driver licenses. Under Senate Bill 833, applicants would be required to have lived in Oregon for at least a year, and to fulfill all normal requirements for earning a license. The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton), Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), Rep. Vic Gilliam (R-Silverton), Rep. Chris Harker (D-Beaverton), and Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson (D-Portland). “All Oregonians, regardless of the documents they have, need the ability to participate in the local economy,†Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said in a release from both the OAN and farmworker union PCUN. “People need to pass a test [and] obtain a license and insurance to be on the roads. We all need to get to church, the store and work. We have worked hard to craft a bill that allows our law enforcement officials to know when they are looking at a valid driver’s license. Senate Bill 833 is a reasonable solution to the problem.† 
Dan Staton Sheriff Dan Staton
Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton will no longer cooperate — at least in part — with the Secure Communities program, according to a March 27 article by the Willamette Week. Staton’s decision means that the county will no longer comply with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency by holding undocumented immigrants arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors so the feds can take custody and possibly deport them. A release from Causa Oregon said the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners will vote on the change April 4. “This slight change in policy might repair the damage caused by Sheriff Staton’s slow action on the ICE program, and by his decision to send Undersheriff Tim Moore to a training last fall sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,†Causa Executive Director Francisco López said in the release. The ACT (Activists Coming Together for Justice and Dignity) Network — which includes Causa as well as the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO), Jobs with Justice, Oregon Dream Activist, Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project, the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC), and the American Friends Service Committee — issued a statement claiming Staton’s stance “falls short of the change necessary to reestablish real trust and safety in our community,†because he will still hold higher-level offenders for ICE. “We want nothing short of a complete end to ICE holds in Multnomah County,†CIO Executive Director Kayse Jama added.