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Friday, January 21, 2011

Immigrant Action Day Unites Oregon Latinos

Immigrant Action Day Unites Oregon Latinos
Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR
January 21, 2011
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SALEM, Ore. - The ability to get a driver's license or get health care for a child are things most Oregonians take for granted. But for undocumented immigrants, they are barriers to success and eventual citizenship. At Saturday's Immigrant Action Day, the Latino community will outline its plans to seek legislation to restore drivers' license access for all Oregonians.

Aeryca Steinbauer with CAUSA, the immigrant rights coalition, says the current state law was designed to keep undocumented immigrants from driving.

"We are going to be working to make sure that all Oregon drivers can be licensed and insured, regardless of their ability to prove legal status. We believe that's a key issue of public safety and economic prosperity for our state."

Those who disagree say licensing undocumented people poses a security risk by allowing them an official form of identification. However, CAUSA says studies show that licensing all drivers prevents accidents because they are tested and registered and must be insured. CAUSA estimates more than 120,000 undocumented immigrants live in Oregon.

At this year's event, Latinos also will reach out to the gay and lesbian members of their community. And they want the state to make good on its promise to "cover all kids" with health care, by extending the Oregon Healthy Kids program to children of immigrant families.

Steinbauer says they're counting on state lawmakers to help.

"There are absolutely supporters and champions on both issues, of health equity for the Latino community and drivers license access - and we're grateful for all the support we've gotten so far."

Immigrant Action Day is a way to build community and get organized for the new state legislative session, she adds. The event takes place Saturday at Chemeketa Community College, 4000 Lancaster Dr., N.E., Salem, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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