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Five Oregon bills aimed at immigrants generate wide range of reactions


EHN Staff
Five Oregon bills aimed at immigrants...
Rep. Kim Thatcher

Rep. Kim Thatcher

Richard Jones
El Hispanic News Writer

Salem, OR — A series of five bills targeted at undocumented immigrants may win applause from some groups. On the other hand, they may also generate protest marches around the state capitol.

Introduced by Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), House Bills 2802, 2803, 2804, 2805, and 2806 all have “unauthorized immigrants” as their target.

These five bills are just a small part of the 1,624 measures already introduced in the 2011 session of the Oregon legislature.

In a phone interview, Thatcher said that responses to her bills had been mostly positive, adding, “Of course you get people who think it’s a waste of time.”

CAUSA Executive Director Francisco López took a dim view of these bills, calling them “The most absurd thing I have ever seen.”

He added, “They will force all of us to prove that we are citizens.”

Thatcher’s viewpoint

“These bills are not intended to hurt anyone,” Thatcher said, “but to make sensible changes to the law.”

“There’s been a hesitancy on the part of the legislature to do anything with immigration,” she said, adding, “The federal [government] hasn’t been doing their job, so the states have to do what’s in their interest.”

With a number of nurseries in her district, Thatcher understands that immigrant workers play an important part in the economy. However, she believes that many of the jobs can be replaced as technology devises tools to mechanize many tasks.

Huge mechanical harvesters in California make it possible for wineries to produce and sell jug wines for about $4 per bottle. Boutique vintners in California and Oregon, however, claim that as of yet no machine-picked grapes can produce high quality wines.

Thatcher says she has no anti-immigrant feelings. “I love immigrants,” she says. “I have several in my family.”

Nonetheless, she says, immigrants “should hold dear the values of the United States.”

CAUSA responds

López, whose office is in Salem, had a number of responses.

Enforcing immigration laws is not the function of local and state governments,” he said.

“These bills will have an economic impact on the state,” he asserted. “She knows that.”

The general trend of the bills, he said, will promote hate, polarization, and bigotry. A direct effect, he predicted, would be increased profiling of Latinos.

Previously, in a position paper, López stated, “We are particularly concerned about proposed legislation that mirrors the extreme policies of Arizona’s SB 1070.”

A snapshot of the bills

HB 2802 creates the crimes of failure to carry an alien registration document and encouraging unlawful immigration. It also requires employers to verify immigration status of employees hired after January 1, 2012.

HB 2803 requires counties to verify the immigration status of persons incarcerated in county correction facilities.

HB 2804 requires evidence of citizenship for persons registering to vote for the first time in Oregon. Section 8 claims this bill is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety …”.

HB 2805 would prohibit state agencies from providing employment, products, services, or licenses to persons who are not lawfully present in the United States. It allows exceptions for certain emergency medical conditions such as labor or delivery, emergencies, immunizations, or other dire situations.

HB 2806 Section 1 prevents businesses from deducting costs of verifying citizenship from state income taxes if the candidate employee is not verified by the federal E-Verify system. Section 3 requires contractors doing business with public agencies to verify all employees before the execution of the contract.

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