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Fear and Strength in Oregon's Immigrant Communities Post-Election

There are about 24,000 DACA-eligible people in Oregon, according to the Migration Policy Institute. (Doug Geisler/Flickr)
There are about 24,000 DACA-eligible people in Oregon, according to the Migration Policy Institute. (Doug Geisler/Flickr)
November 17, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Immigrant communities across Oregon are preparing to take President-elect Donald Trump at his word regarding ramping up deportations during his presidency.

Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa, an immigrant-rights organization in Oregon, said state protections – such as refusal to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) – could prevent some of Trump's deportation efforts if he follows through with them. But she said other West Coast states have more protections in place than Oregon.

"We're looking at especially West Coast states, our neighbors – what does Washington have in place already, what does California have in place already, that their legislators have already passed?" asked Williams. "And how can we bring that here to Oregon, making the West Coast a place where all families can thrive?"

As an example, Williams said, Washington and California allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses, but Oregon does not.

Trump has said he will only target undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

The Pew Hispanic Center puts the number of undocumented immigrants in Oregon at 120,000, though other groups say it could be as high as 170,000.

Trump has said he will also take aim at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, established by President Barack Obama to give undocumented children temporary protection from deportation.

Fatima Preciado, a DACA student studying at Portland State University, said initially she was shocked with the election results, but is already thinking about how to move forward if Trump follows through with his plans.

"It's just going to be another challenge that I'm going to have to learn to try to overcome,” Precaido said. "Symbolically, he's planning to put that wall. I just feel like the next thing is, 'How am I going to jump that wall?' As a community, how are we going to be able to persevere and continue to move forward?"

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated there are about 24,000 DACA-eligible individuals in Oregon.

Williams said the federal government targeting the immigrant community is nothing new. The Obama administration has deported more than 2.5 million people during his presidency, the most deportations during any administration in U.S. history. Williams said her organization is preparing now so it can tell people their rights if deportations increase in the future.

"There are certain constitutional rights that every human being has, regardless of their immigration status here in the United States,” she said.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR