With the horrors of 9/11 still fresh, and a sour economy causing Americans to feel more protective about their jobs, anti-immigrant sentiment has never been more acute. But Elizabeth Perry, director of Voz (a local organization that works on labor and immigrant rights), estimates there are 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. contributing billions of dollars in revenue every year.
To counter a number of federal laws aimed at locking and kicking out immigrants, last week, a network of organizations began a campaign to send one million postcards to President Bush. The postcards emphasize the importance of legalization and call for a new immigration process by which undocumented people will be able to become permanent legal residents more efficiently. Perry hopes that 50,000 cards will be sent from Oregon by October.
"This campaign is important for immigrant communities because it's allowing them to come together to educate and speak for themselves," said Perry. OSCAR ARANA
Quick road to ruin
To the chagrin of activists last Thursday, Bush's most recent fast-track legislation passed the Senate in a vote of 66-30. Both Oregon Senators cast yes votes for the Baucus-Grassley fast track bill. The legislation limits the power of Congress over international trade agreements in order to give more power to President Bush; with the Baucus-Grassley Bill, the President will be given the authority to negotiate trade agreements alone, implementing drastic NAFTA-style trade agreements. Activists worry that this legislation could have detrimental effects on international labor conditions, as well as the environment.
"By requiring Congress to vote up or down without amendments on finished trade agreements, fast track deprives Congress of the right to fix trade deals that threaten the environment," the Sierra Club said in a recent statement. Last weekend, Oregon activists protested Senator Ron Wyden's vote at his appearance both at the Washington Park Zoo and at a University of Oregon track meet. The bill is still pending approval by the conference committee and the House. KATIA DUNN