All Oregonians should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of where they were born. SB 1543 safeguards due process by providing immigrant Oregonians with access to their rights under the law.
Immigrants and refugees are a vital part of Oregon’s families and communities contributing to Oregon as loved ones, parents, friends, coworkers, community members and leaders, taxpayers, workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. In fact, one in ten Oregonians is an immigrant or refugee, while one in nine residents is a U.S. citizen who was born in the U.S. with at least one immigrant or refugee parent. When an immigrant or refugee is forced to participate in deportation proceedings by the federal government without legal counsel, the proceeding becomes fundamentally unfair and unjust. Indeed, there are children as young as three years of age who have been in deportation proceedings without a lawyer to represent them. Without a lawyer, people are 5.5 times likely to get deported than those with a lawyer.
With SB 1543, the Oregon Legislature has the opportunity to establish a state-wide, community-driven program that will provide immigration legal services to those in need. This program is based on a successful multi-year pilot program in Multnomah county. This program will be the first of its kind in the nation with a governance structure made up of community-based organizations; this will allow the program to be connected and responsive to community feedback and needs. Also, this program will support current legal service providers in meeting the need for immigration services by providing funding which will be coordinated by the Oregon State Bar.