A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Successful Transitions.
Kids do better in school and life when their parents are involved in their education and able to advocate for them. Due to language barriers, fear, and unfamiliarity with systems, immigrant parents often struggle to advocate for their children and families. That’s why Unite Oregon has been working closely with Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) to engage and inform parents in SOESD’s migrant parent leadership program.
SOESD staff member Bianey Jiminez invited parents from the leadership program to attend Unite Oregon’s Driver’s Licenses for ALL Community Forum in Spanish on March 28. Almost 100 people turned out for the event. That’s where Unite Oregon staff began building relationships with these parents.
Since the forum, Unite Oregon has helped the parents advocate for HB2015 (the Equal Access to Roads Act) and HB3310 (the Oregon Voting Rights Act). HB2015 would allow all Oregon residents, regardless of citizenship status, to obtain driver’s licenses after passing the required written and practical tests. This would allow undocumented immigrant parents to purchase car insurance and drive their children to school, the doctor or the park without fear of getting deported for driving without a license. HB3310 would allow Oregonians to challenge and offer solutions to discriminatory electoral methods. This could lead to more candidates of color winning school board, city and county elections.
Unite Oregon’s Bilingual Organizer Alessandra de la Torre coached parents on how to call their representatives and voice support for these two bills. She reassured undocumented parents that calling would not put them at risk.
Unite Oregon continues to welcome these parents to events like tenant rights trainings and citizenship classes. By talking to these parents over the phone or in person, they’ve gathered parents’ community concerns and visions, which contribute to an intercultural movement for justice.
The parents in the leadership program want to encourage other community members to take advantage of the resources and connections available to them. Although it might be uncomfortable, they emphasize that people need to empower themselves if they want change.