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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Questions Raised About Citizenship and Immigration Services offices moving to West Linn

in the news

Apparently many people including Oregon's Democratic Congressional delegation are having problems with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices moving from downtown Portland, where it is accessible, to West Linn where it is not so accessible by immigrants.

Immigrant Aid, in West Linn
Moving the Citizenship and Immigration Services offices

One arm of the federal government invested hundreds of millions of dollars helping the Portland area develop a public transit system that's become the envy of the nation.

Meanwhile, in a move that defies logic, another arm of the federal government is acting as if that transit system doesn't exist. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which aids more than 2,000 people a month out of an office near bus lines and light rail in downtown Portland, plans to pack up and move to the suburbs.

Not to Hillsboro or Beaverton or Gresham. Any of those suburbs might make sense if the agency's new quarters were built near the light-rail lines that serve those communities.
Instead, the federal service proposes breaking ground this summer on a new office in West Linn. That's a bizarre choice for an agency created to assist immigrants seeking help with citizenship and residency issues.

The West Linn site, at an office park along Interstate 205, is nowhere near the TriMet light-rail line. Nor is the site easily accessible by bus -- an hour's ride from downtown Portland and at least that far from Hillsboro and Gresham and other immigrant neighborhoods in the metropolitan area.

The agency's decision makes no sense, and nobody has expressed it better than Ethan Seltzer, an urban studies professor at Portland State University.

"Fundamentally," he told The Oregonian's Ryan Frank, "these guys are either hostile to the people they serve or there's something else going on here, but it's not good." continue reading


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