"From time to time I have snuck out and seen a movie there, and it's usually me, and two students from Lincoln making out in the back," said City Commissioner Nick Fish at last week's council session, describing Portland's Living Room Theaters on SW 10th and Stark.
"You're not going to print that about the movie theater?" asked one of Fish's staffers, of your faithful stenographer, afterward. "You know that kind of thing only causes unnecessary trouble."
But he said it. So, why was Fish sticking his foot in his mouth, talking about sneaking out of city hall on the taxpayer's dime to watch movies at the Living Room Theaters in the company of amorous high schoolers?
It turns out—despite the commissioner's well-documented tendency to ramble—that he had a pretty good reason. The Living Room Theaters are screening Papers, a Portland-made movie by director Anne Galisky, for a week starting Friday, October 23. "They'll actually hold it over for more than a week, if there's enough demand," says Galisky. Cough. Hint.
The documentary focuses on undocumented high school students who have no choice, once they graduate, but to work illegally or go back to the country their parents came from. Currently, there are approximately two million children in the US with no legal status. Each year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate high school but are unable to work, drive, or attend college.
Having been to a screening for the film, Fish brought forward a resolution urging council to support the federal Dream Act last week. The act would provide undocumented students—like those featured in the movie—with a path to citizenship through college study or joining the military.
"The Dream Act will help a lot of my friends have a positive future, which right now they can't have," said Vanessa Dominguez, a freshman at Roosevelt High School, in support.
"There will be people asking why are we giving this issue time on our agenda," said Fish. "We do have a role to lobby congress. We do have a role to say this is an issue we care about."
It's true. The Dream Act may be federal, but neither Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley nor Ron Wyden are co-sponsors yet, says Galisky. Only Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and David Wu have taken that step. "Anything we can do locally to raise this issue and ask what can we do to be more active in this area is important," she says.