Stories from the Field: Rural Oregonians March, Call and Pose for Measure 88!‏

October 23rd, 2014

Dear ROPnet,

This month we bring you stories from communities all over the state – rural and small town Oregonians taking action in support of driver cards and against deportations!

Over the last few weeks human dignity groups have marched 7 miles from Scappoose to St Helens, marched 150 strong in Hermiston, made phone calls, delivered STAND Voter Guides, held community forums and more!

And to top it all off – rural Oregon is going on record in the media for their support of Driver Cards and Measure 88! An Associated Press story about the October Month of Action is popping up all over the state and made it all the way to San Francisco. Check out the full article below.

There are only 13 days left before the final votes are counted. Want a simple way to take action for driver cards? All you need is a computer and a phone and 2 hours. We can connect with the YES on 88 Campaign to get you (and your friends!) a list of the most critical voters in your county, and a simple call script to encourage your neighbors to vote YES. Contact or call 503-543-8417 today to get set up.

Check out stories from the field below. And congrats to all for the many, many ways you are spreading the message of dignity and justice for all in our communities!

My Best, Cara

Columbia County: 7 Mile Walk from Scappoose to St Helens

The 7 mile walk from Scappoose to St Helens – 70 people strong – made the front page of the local paper, The Chronicle. (See our complete photo album of the march here.)

Group walks 7 miles to support driver cards

On Oct 11, 70 people walked along Highway 30 from Scappoose to Se Helens as a way to encourage voters to support Measure 88. Measure 88 is on the statewide ballot in November, and would make a driver card available to Oregon residents if they pass the written test, the behind the wheel test, and are able to prove their identity and residency in Oregon. Called “The 7 Mile March for Safe Roads,” the walk was organized by local volunteer human dignity group Columbia County Families Together. The event was part of a statewide month of action lead by Latino community leaders from small-town Oregon in collaboration with the Rural Organizing Project.

Umatilla County: Hermiston marched 150 strong on Sunday!

In Hermiston, 150 people marched in the streets, led by Greg Delgado, Causa Rural Organizer and ROP Latino Advisory Board member!

Crook County: Human Dignity Advocates pose to show their support of Measure 88!

In September Human Dignity Advocates hosted a public forum with over 40 people in support of the driver card. And here they are “posing” to show their support of Measure 88!

Here are a few more highlights from around the state:

Deschutes County: In the last two weeks volunteers in Bend called 2400 voters!

Baker County: Leaders hand distributed 1300 STAND Voter Guides to voters in Baker County.

Columbia County: 600 members of the “Rising American Electorate” voters in Columbia County received the STAND Voter Guide in the mail and received a follow-up “courtesy call” from members of Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity, asking if they have any questions about their ballot and encouraging a “yes” vote on Measure 88.

Rural Oregon is making waves, and changing hearts and minds. Congrats to all of you rural leaders who have worked hard to make sure rural Oregon towns across the state are on the map supporting human dignity.

In rural Oregon, we all deserve to live with dignity. YES on Measure 88!

Driver’s cards campaign ramps up in rural Oregon
By GOSIA WOZNIACKA, Associated Press
Updated 11:56 am, Thursday, October 9, 2014

Photo: Beth Nakamura, AP

In this May 1, 2013, file photo, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber holds up Senate Bill 833, which authorizes driver’s cards for those without the documents to obtain regular driver’s licenses, after signing it into law on the steps of the State Capitol in Salem, Ore. Around the country, Oregon is among some states that have been granting more privileges to immigrants as immigration reform fails to make any headway in Congress
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The battle over whether Oregon should grant driving privileges to immigrants who can’t prove they are in the U.S. legally is ramping up in rural parts of the state where there is a growing Latino population.

As the Nov. 4 election nears, proponents of driving privileges are holding campaign events in those areas, including a seven-mile march this weekend from Scappoose to St. Helens.

They say issuing the licenses would increase safety by prompting more people to learn the rules of the road and get insurance.

“This measure is … about our neighbors, who have lived here, often for decades, being able to live with dignity,” said Amanda Aguilar Shank, coordinator with the Scappoose-based Rural Organizing Project, a coalition of human rights groups across rural Oregon. “It’s about families getting to work and being able to drive their children to school.”

Earlier this year, 28 of the 36 sheriffs in the state voted to oppose the measure. Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin argued it would create “a magnet for bad people to come to Oregon to seek identification that’s legitimized by the state.”

Measure 88 asks voters to accept or reject a state law signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber last year that would grant four-year driver’s cards that cannot be used to vote or get government benefits.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a group founded by Jim Ludwick, a retired horse ranch owner from Yamhill County, gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot and put the law on hold.

Public opinion research has shown conservatives and older adults, along with individuals without a college degree, tend to favor more restrictive immigration policies.

Proponents of driving privileges point to rapidly changing demographics as one of the reasons they’re focusing on rural Oregon in their campaign.

According to the 2010 Census, more than half the counties in Oregon — most rural — saw growth of over 50 percent in the Latino populations during the past decade. Roughly a third of residents in Hood River, Malheur, Morrow and Umatilla counties are Hispanic, according to data compiled by the Population Research Center at Portland State University.

The Pew Hispanic Center said there are about 160,000 unauthorized immigrants living in Oregon, or 4.3 percent of the total population and one-third of Latinos in the state.

Thousands of immigrants work in nurseries, orchards and farm fields, so the state agriculture industry has been especially supportive of driver’s cards.

“We want people to get to work, to church, to the store,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “We have a hard enough time getting labor right now, and we don’t want to further erode a hardworking workforce from being a vital part of this economy.”

To increase support for the measure, the Rural Organizing Project has held phone bank events in Bend and rallies in McMinnville, Newberg and Dundee in Yamhill County, the heart of the state wine industry.

Strong support already exists in some rural areas such as Hood River, where Latinos make up 29 percent of the population. Republican State Sen. Chuck Thomsen, a fourth-generation orchardist in the area, sponsored the driver’s card bill.

“I grew up with Hispanics … In my community, people interact, they’re neighbors, you meet them at school, you get to know them and you’re comfortable,” said Thomsen. “In many rural communities, that’s the way it is, it’s no big deal.”