January 7, 2010
Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR
PORTLAND, Ore. - Only one member of Oregon's congressional delegation has endorsed the latest Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill submitted a month ago, and members of the immigrant community say they'll be urging the others along in the coming weeks. Today, they're stopping by Rep. Earl Blumenauer's office to say 'thanks' for co-sponsoring the bill.
Francisco Lopez with Oregon's immigrant rights coalition, CAUSA, says it's a start.
"We are going to take this whole legalization process and keep pushing and pushing, and we are not going to stop. We'll be visiting our congressional offices in Oregon until we have all the votes that we need. Oregon has two in the Senate and five in the House, so we need seven votes. Now, we have one."
Lopez says about 400,000 immigrants live in Oregon, and about one-third are undocumented.
The bill (HR 4321) was introduced last month by Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez. It would outline a path to citizenship, revamp the guest worker program and border security policies, and promote keeping families together.
The office visit coincides with the release of a report that says immigration reform would boost the U.S. economy by more than $1.5 trillion in the next 10 years, while other proposals that focus only on deportation would cost more than $2 trillion. Lopez says allowing people who are already in the United States to become citizens makes financial sense.
"These people will start becoming stable, and they will start buying homes, get better jobs, and some of them that want to start businesses will be able to. Kids will be able to go to college, and the economy will begin to improve."
The bill is the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security & Prosperity Act of 2009." CAUSA meets with Rep. Blumenauer at noon at his Portland office, 729 N.E. Oregon St.