Oregon State Immigration Laws
The intricacies of immigration laws can be daunting and challenging. This is particularly true for immigrants and migrants in Oregon state who go through the immigration process. Migrants should remember that they can access many legal resources. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the immigration laws in Oregon state. This article will discuss the following topics:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Oregon
- Employment checks and E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefits restrictions
- Education checks
- Voting ID rules
- Housing ordinances and immigration
- Related resources
- Hire an immigration lawyer
The article aims to give Oregonians a better understanding of their rights under immigration law. Remember that the rights and responsibilities of people may vary in each state.
Oregon is among the "sanctuary states" in the United States. The state established itself as such in 1987 and is among the first sanctuary states in the country. Oregon was the first state to pass a law barring state authorities from helping federal authorities enforce immigration laws.
The "sanctuary state" started with ORS 181A.820. The legislation passed in 1987. This law barred state law enforcement resources from capturing and detecting immigrants without proper documentation.
Oregon legislators updated ORS 181A.820 a few decades later. To strengthen the law, the state passed House Bill 3265 in 2021, also known as the "Sanctuary Promise Act." The bill increases the protective measures and safety of immigrant communities. The effort includes increased support and transparency in dealings with federal immigration authorities.
The Sanctuary Promise Act also banned local law enforcement authorities from participating in immigration enforcement. Before they can proceed, they should get a judicial warrant. The Act also forces state and federal law enforcement agencies to document, report, and deny immigration law enforcement.
The E-Verify system can check a person's eligibility for employment in the United States. E-Verify is an online system run by the Department of Homeland Security. Employers use it to check the employment eligibility of people hired in the United States. The system compares the information the employee gives in their I-9 form to the data in the U.S. immigration system. Here, employers will see the employment eligibility status of the person.
In Oregon, the E-Verify requirement depends on the municipality. Most cities in Oregon do not force employers to use E-Verify. But, some counties do force employers to use the program.
The Oregon legislature passed the "Equal Access to Roads Act" in 2019, allowing immigrants without proper documents to get driver's licenses. The Act removes the rule of showing proof of U.S. citizenship or legal status in the country to get a driver's license.
With this Act, a person applying for a driver's license only needs to show:
- Proof of identity
- Date of birth
- Social Security number (SSN) or a written statement stating that they don't have an SSN
- Proof of residency in Oregon
Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are also eligible to apply for a driver's license. All applicants must also pay a fee and pass the driver's license test.
Oregon has various public benefits available to anyone regardless of their immigration status. The following are some of the public benefits available to everyone who has a low income. Immigrants without documentation can also use these benefits.
- Food banks, school meals, Meals on Wheels
- Emergency Medicaid
- Pregnancy coverage
- Oregon Prescription Drug Program
- Temporary Assistance for Domestic Violence Survivors
For more information about the eligibility for government assistance, visit the Oregon Law Help website.
The Oregon Senate introduced Bill 1522 on Feb. 1, 2022. It expanded in-state tuition benefits to people granted the following:
- Humanitarian parole
- Conditional permanent residency
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
To be eligible, a person must not have established previous residency in any other state or territory of the United States. The bill also says the student will pay in-state tuition for an undergraduate or graduate degree program in a public university if the student meets the following:
- A noncitizen, a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., a special immigrant visa holder, a refugee, or a COFA islander
- Shows intention to apply for lawful permanent residency or become a U.S. citizen by submitting a copy of the application to register with the federal immigration program. Or a copy of a statement stating the student's intent to get legal status as soon as the law permits.
Students without proper documentation in Oregon may also apply for financial aid programs. They only need to meet specific requirements to get these benefits. Some of the financial aid programs that the state offers are as follows:
Visit the Oregon Student Aid website for more information about Oregon Financial Aid Opportunities.
Oregon's voting system follows all-mail voting. It uses mail-in ballots. Every Oregonian resident who is a U.S. citizen and at least 18 may vote. To register to vote, an Oregon resident must present any of the following:
- Valid driver's license
- Social Security number
If any of these identifications are unavailable, you can show one of the following acceptable identifications:
- Valid photo identification
- Utility bill
- Bank statement
- Paycheck stub
- Government-issued document
- Proof of eligibility under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (VAEH) or the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA)
The document must show your full name and current address. Visit your county elections official for further help with voting registration.
The Fair Housing Act of the United States ensures that fair housing is accessible to everyone. This right is available regardless of the person's race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or family situation. The Act covers housing transactions such as rentals, sales, lending, mortgaging, and insurance.
There are several immigration legal services and legal aid in Oregon. These organizations offer widespread advocacy for immigrants and help them with various issues. Some of these organizations are as follows:
- The Immigration Advocates Network — It has a directory of referrals to organizations that provide immigration services. FindLaw.com also has legal resources that you can access for free. It provides comprehensive information about immigration laws and other legal issues.
- Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) — This organization provides holistic needs for immigrant communities and refugees in Oregon. According to IRCO's website, it assists and empowers immigrants in becoming self-sufficient and building new lives.
- Center for Nonprofit Legal Services — It helps immigrants with matters related to federal immigration law. This includes but is not limited to adjustment of status, employment authorization, consular processing, family-based petitions, naturalization or citizenship, and more.
- Catholic Charities of Portland — Immigration Legal Services — This charity helps immigrants with various areas of immigration issues. It also helps victims of domestic violence get Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions.
The complexities of government rules and regulations can be challenging to understand. But it is crucial to know your civil rights. To help you better understand your rights, reach out to an immigration attorney.
Immigration attorneys can offer legal advice depending on your case. They will help you better understand your immigrant rights and civil rights under state and federal law. They can also help you process applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The following are the most common services that immigration attorneys offer:
- Processing U.S. visas
- Getting U.S. citizenship or naturalization
- Getting lawful permanent residency or green card applications
- Applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Petitioning family members to the U.S.
- Legal representation in immigration court
- Other matters related to immigration law
- Help with navigating the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.