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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Bills Roundup: "Arizona-Style" Immigration Laws in Oregon

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM

The legislative session kicked off last week, with over 1,600 new laws and rule changes proposed by Oregon's representatives. I'll be doing roundups of the laws relevant to Portland on the blog all week. Read previous posts on TriMet safety, homebrew and phone books.

Just a few days into the legislative session, immigration rights group CAUSA is blasting a batch of bills from Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) as "Arizona-style" immigration legislation that will hurt immigrants and create a divisive culture in the state.

None of the five bills CAUSA's targeting are as racial profiley as Arizona's infamous SB 1070, but they would make it harder for illegal immigrants to access education and healthcare and easier for them to be deported. Here's the rundown:

HB 2802 would mandate that all public entities "enforce immigration law to extent permitted by federal law" or face being sued. Right now, for example, Portland police don't ask for immigration status of people they arrest, but they could potentially be forced to under this law.

HB 2803 expands the federal Secure Communities program to every county in the state, meaning every county would check the status of people who are arrested. If the accused person is undocumented, they're sent to ICE and often deported.

HB 2804 is the whopper that's raised the most eyebrows: It would require evidence of citizenship for persons registering to vote for first time in Oregon. This would mean needing your birth certificate or passport on hand to register, a hurdle that some think would lower voting rates among legal residents, too.

HB 2805 would prohibit state agencies from providing "employment, products, services or licenses" to illegal immigrants, which could mean banning undocumented kids from school (education is a service, after all).

HB 2806 would allow businesses to only get federal tax deductions for employees whose social security numbers they've run through the national E-Verify system.

In response, Rep. Thatcher says the criticism is misguided. "These bills are designed to provide sensible reforms to hold people accountable who are breaking the law," she writes via email. "This session is about priorities, and it makes sense to prioritize people here legally verses those who are not here legally."

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