The MUSE Women & Politics Social Talking Circle

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(Photo above: Speakers Dan Larsson, Immigration Attorney and Milagros Aparicio, Client Services Coordinator for the Latino Community Association | by Krystal Marie Collins)

The MUSE Women & Politics Social Talking Circle hosted it’s second meeting on February 2 with the topic of National Immigration Policy discussed. This talking circle is a program of Central Oregon non-profit World Muse. The purpose is to raise levels of conscious community engagement by starting conversations and sharing information.

Speakers Dan Larsson, Immigration Attorney, and Milagros Aparicio, Client Services Coordinator for the Latino Community Association, shared first-hand knowledge of their experience navigating American immigration policy. Regardless of their proposed resolutions, speakers Larsson and Aparicio made convincing arguments that Immigration Policy is in need of reforms.

Larsson explained that immigration law is, “one of the most complex systems of law in the United States. When you add racial issues, economics and the prospect of splitting up families, it is an emotional area of law.”

“In the bigger picture,” he says, “I believe Immigration Policy may be the deciding factor in the US elections. Immigration Policy in our nation has been broken for a long time. We have an aging baby boomer population and at a certain point of wealth certain jobs are harder to fill. The country needs both skilled and unskilled labor as the reality is that immigrants fill jobs that native born citizens often do not want to fill.

“We also want foreign students in our Universities to demonstrate our global rank academically speaking. Currently, there are not enough visa numbers for either unskilled or skilled labor. As an example, this year there were 237,000 visa applications for 85,000 visas for professional positions that require a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher (so-called H-1B program). All these applications were for actual job offers that paid the prevailing wage for the position. As a result, many qualified foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities will need to return to their home country even if offered a job. That is not good for the U.S. economy.

As an advocate for the largest population of individuals in the Central Oregon community negotiating Immigration Policy, Latinos, Aparicio attests to the current disarray of the immigration system as a whole.

Currently, Aparicio says, undocumented folks cannot obtain driver licenses, they are sometimes working with black market social security numbers, and families are in constant fear of being separated. Yet, as Larsson says, the fact remains, there is a need for a labor work force and guest workers.

Aparicio believes deferment of action executive directives focused toward children of and parents of citizens (DACA/DAPA), presently awaiting Supreme Court ruling, would begin to resolve some of the confusion and distress in employee/employer relations with undocumented workers.

Without knowing for certain what the outcome of Supreme Court rulings might be regarding DACA/DAPA, Larsson forecasts that the executive directives will likely pass unless Congress takes alternative action on comprehensive immigration reform. If this does occur, issuing work permits to thousands in Oregon is projected to boost state economy. To read more about DACA/DAPA see https://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction.

Though terrorism and home land security is a hot topic under the National Immigration Policy umbrella, it was not widely discussed during the Talking Circle.

To attend a MUSE Women & Politics Talking Circle or start your own, please contact World Muse at: info@theworldmuse.org

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    Thanks Milagros & Dan for getting the word out about the benefits immigrants bring to our community. Although Latinos represent 12% of our Bend population, and their numbers have increased 112% in the last census while Oregon as a whole has seen only an 8% increase, they often labor invisibly doing important jobs here.

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