Spring has almost officially sprung and the weather’s slowly getting warmer. As we wait for the sun to peak out from behind the rain clouds, we’re also celebrating the many victories we’ve had so far in 2019 - and getting ready for the work to come. From Portland’s withdrawal from the Joint Terrorism Task Force to Unite Oregon’s statewide lobby day, here’s the latest news from around Unite Oregon:
Portland Withdraws From Joint Terrorism Task Force
On February 13th, we celebrated an incredible victory in Portland, one that’s been in the works since 2004: Portland City Council voted to withdraw from the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)! This promises to end the partnership between local law enforcement and federal agencies like the FBI and ICE in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Across the country, JTTF agents have profiled and harassed Black Lives Matter activists, and have collaborated with ICE and other agencies that make up the federal deportation machine.
This is just one example of how Unite Oregon is setting a social justice agenda in our communities. But we couldn’t have done it without the leadership of City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who worked from her first day in office to get Portland out of the JTTF. And we absolutely couldn’t have done it without strong community leaders like Unite Oregon member Millie, who spoke out about how her family was traumatized by FBI agents working with the JTTF. Read more about Millie’s story in the Portland Mercury, and stay tuned as we ensure that Portland City Council carries out the will of the community by fully implementing our withdrawal from the JTTF.
We Rise Together Lobby Days Brings 120 Members to Salem
On April 2nd, we brought 120 community leaders to Salem from across Oregon to speak truth to power in the Oregon Capitol. It was one of the most diverse groups that the legislators have ever seen: men, women, and nonbinary folks; queer and straight people; rural residents and city-dwellers; immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers speaking 6 different languages; people with disabilities. All of us came together to raise our voices in support of social and racial justice for ALL of our communities!
Where Are The Refugees?
Across the world, there are 68 million people who have been displaced from their homes, including 25 million refugees. But the Trump Administration has cut refugee admissions to an all-time low of 30,000 - and we aren't even on track to meet that goal. In the middle of the worst refugee crisis in modern history, the federal government is turning its back on refugees and asylum-seekers, leaving many of us asking: where are the refugees? Check out videos in support of refugee communities from Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.
If the federal government refuses to support people fleeing persecution, then Oregon must step up as a leader. Sign our petition to urge the Oregon Legislature to vote YES on House Bill 2508, the Refugees Welcome Bill, which would provide critical case management services for new refugees.
Rogue Valley Members Turn Out In Support of Driver’s Licenses For All
The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill to give all members of our community access to a driver's license, regardless of their citizenship status. On March 28th, our Rogue Valley team organized a community forum on driver licenses in Southern Oregon, with over 92 people in attendance! Our members felt empowered to help do outreach in their communities, and tell the story of why access to a driver's license matters to them, and we're working on collecting stories from front-line communities to urge the Legislature to do the right thing and give ALL of us access to a driver's license!
Unite Oregon Develops Leaders Across Our Communities
Image: PILOT participants enjoying a break in the sun
During our March PILOT retreat, we partnered with Zenger Farms, a community farm in SE Portland that runs a community chefs program. The chefs hosted two cooking workshops with us. One of the chefs actually graduated from UO’s first PILOT Cohort in 2008 and she shared the impact the PILOT program has had in her life. It was beautiful to reconnect with her through food and our participants had so much fun bonding with each other as they prepared meals together.
Image: BUILD parents and students tour Evergreen College
Our BUILD program continued its strong engagement with immigrant parents and students of color across Jefferson, Madison, and Roosevelt High Schools. We took 32 parents and students to Evergreen College for a college visit, including a student panel and tour of the campus. And parent participation in our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program at Roosevelt High School has never been higher.
Other News Around Unite...
Our Washington County team is working with local governments in the SW Corridor (from SW Portland to Sherwood along Highway 99) to engage community members in shaping the future of that area, and to ensure that TriMet's newest MAX project doesn't displace residents.This year, we’ve brought together hundreds of community members speaking multiple languages to learn about housing and transportation justice and prevent gentrification and displacement. Are you a SW Corridor resident and want to get involved? Contact Cristina Palacios at [email protected] or 503-828-9736.
We’re one step closer to passing universal paid family & medical leave in Oregon. Almost all of us will need to take time off from work to deal with a family or medical issue. But because Oregon doesn’t have a universal paid family and medical leave policy in place, the majority of us can’t actually afford to take time off when we need to. And with the way our laws are currently written, many Oregonians and their family members aren’t legally covered under existing unpaid leave programs. Help us to tell legislators to vote for a paid family and medical leave policy for Oregon. Send your elected officials a message right now and tell them how important this issue is to you!
Want to help end the influence of big money in Oregon politics? Join Unite Oregon and the Voice For All Oregon coalition on Thursday, April 25th for a special lobby day focusing on the new Small Donor Elections bill!
Support Our Work - Matching Cash Contributions Through May!
We can’t do this work without your support. In 2019, 65 new individual donors have helped us advance racial and social justice across Oregon's urban and renewal communities. Will you support the good work of Unite Oregon with a tax-deductible contribution? Bonus: from April to May, a foundation will match every donation dollar for dollar, up to $10,000!