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CAUSA launches a wide array of new goals and programs


EHN Staff
CAUSA launches a wide array of new goals and...

People gathered for Immigrant Day of ActionRichard Jones
El Hispanic News Writer

Salem, OR — The community event room at Chemeketa Community College was full on Saturday. The hallways were packed, the anteroom was shoulder to shoulder, and the second floor balcony had plenty of observers.

A Jennifer López appearance? Eva Longoria? Michelle Obama?

Better than that. It was CAUSA’s Immigrant Action Day, held Jan. 22. And, yes, among the estimated 400 attendees there were plenty of immigrants — and plenty of action, too.

A new, more energized version of CAUSA provided four virtually non-stop hours of goals and plans on the horizon from now until 2013.

CAUSA Executive Director Francisco López pumped up the energy level of the overflow crowd early, citing a number of successes in 2010 and expanded goals for the next few years.

López said CAUSA would welcome all people, Catholics and Protestants, of all colors, of all sexual preferences. He said CAUSA would defend human rights of all communities.

Moreover, he cited a long list of victories in 2010 including many protest actions. He highlighted the victory of members of San Martín de Porres mission. Hispanics in Dayton, Ore., were under threat of having their church sold out from under them.

Despite the many gains, LópFrancisco Lópezez reminded the crowd that the victories would not be an easy. “This will be a long struggle,” he said.

In the event’s keynote speech, Yahaira Carrillo said that sexual minorities —LGBTQ individuals — “coming out of the shadows” had their own difficulties with discrimination ranging from jobs to acceptance in the military. However, she said that different groups working together all become stronger. With people united, hand-in-hand, all things are possible.

PCUN President Ramón Ramírez noted, “For the first time we came close to passing legislation [to create the DREAM Act].” Ramírez added that Latinos need to make a stronger effort. “The action movement needs to continue,” he said.

The DREAM Act, after being tied up in Congress for seven years, finally came up for a vote in December. After passing the House of Representatives, it came within five votes in the Senate of becoming law.

CAUSA organizer Lorena Manzo cited the damage to families caused by parents not being able to obtain identification documents. No papers mean no jobs, she said. Even if undocumented persons could find work, they would not likely get more than minimum wage. “Minimum wage jobs won’t feed a family,” she noted.

Future targets

Immigration rights will remain the focus of CAUSA. Pedro Jiménez, speaking from the floor, called for a moratorium on deportations by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Other hot-button tickets included drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrant, after Oregon legislators denied that right in 2008. This involves both publicity and the economy.

A position paper from CAUSA said public safety increases when all drivers are tested, licensed, and insured. On the economic side, restrictions not only create unnecessary barriers for individuals, but also bring financial harm to insurance companies and automobile dealers. This combination makes it harder for the country to climb out of the recession.

Health care will be a high priority for CAUSA. In addition to supporting the Healthy Child program for all children, CAUSA called for more community clinics and state funding for farm worker housing.

With higher education becoming essential for finding a well-paying job, CAUSA is seeking equity in tuitions for all students who graduated from high school or earned a GED certificate in Oregon.

The group advocates a comprehensive immigration reform law that includes a path to a legal status and citizenship. Pushing forward a DREAM Act-type program is high on CAUSA’s goals.

In standing up for sexual minorities, CAUSA notes that they suffer from numerous forms of discrimination. Not only can they not marry in Oregon, they cannot file immigration petitions for their loved ones. LGBTQ community members also face discrimination in some workplaces and in housing.

CAUSA plans to build support groups to offer leadership classes.

Future meetings

CAUSA’s 2011 calendar includes seven meetings over the next four months:

  • Feb. 10, 6 p.m., Eugene. Lane County Leaders’ Assembly, First Congregational Church of Christ.
  • Feb. 15, 11:30 a.m., Salem. Legislative briefing, Oregon State Capitol, Room 50.
  • March 4, 11:30 a.m., Salem. Graduation ceremony for CAUSA’s Leadership Development program, Oregon State Capitol Galleria.
  • April 1, 11 a.m., Salem. Farmworker Housing Celebration, Oregon State Capitol Galleria.
  • May 1, 11 a.m., Salem. March and rally, Oregon State Capitol front steps.
  • May 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Salem. Latino/Latina Advocacy Day, Oregon State Capitol, Room 350.
  • May 19, 5:30 p.m., Salem. CAUSA Oregon Zócalo Night, Mission Mill Museum.

Photo 1 Richard Jones, El Hispanic News
The facilities at Chemeketa Community College were stretched to standing-room-only to accommodate the crowd at Immigrant Action Day.

Photo 2 Richard Jones, El Hispanic News
Francisco López, CAUSA executive director

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