The effects can be seen in the Marion County Clerk’s office where requests for passports for the children of undocumented people are on their way to being twelve times what they were last year. Passports are purchased to allow children born in the United States – who are documented – to travel to the country where an undocumented family member may have been returned.
In Marion County, passports are issued by the Marion County Clerk’s office. “Usually we issue about 800 passports a year,” says Bill Burgess, Marion County Clerk. “This year, in February alone, we issued about 890. In March, it was 1,384. One of them we issued was for a 23-day old baby.”
Burgess says that it costs families more than $100 to get a child’s passport. “And these are people who are often working minimum wage jobs. So that’s a lot of money for a family. But we’re finding that children feel like they don’t know if their parents will be home when they get back from school.”
Jaime Arredondo is the Secretary-Treasurer of PCUN of Woodburn, a union that represents 4500 farm workers, nursery and reforestation workers in Oregon and is also the state’s largest Latino organization. Arredondo says that taking the step is “not a shocker. People will do whatever is in their control to protect their children. People talk a lot about the fear immigrants are experiencing in this moment. At the core of that fear is separation of families.”
The Oregon Law Center in Woodburn provides free civil legal services to low-income individuals on matters related to needs like food, shelter, medical care, income and physical safety. To support undocumented Oregonians, the Law Center and the Latino Network of Portland joined together to create a Protect Your Family Plan. The Plan describes and provides legal forms such as a delegation of Parental/Guardian Powers, advise on obtaining and safekeeping for birth certificates of US-born children and on how to keep information such as emergency numbers and legal forms organized for parents “in the event that they are detained, deported, incapacitated or unavailable for any period of time.”
The Guide, available on the Latino Network’s website, provides a number of legal forms, including a Relative Caregiver Affidavit, which allows a family member to agree to medical treatment or educational services for minor children when the consent of the legal parent can’t be obtained.
Social service agencies for immigrants also encourage their clients to carry a “Red Card,”
“The Red Card (typically printed on bright red paper) is a bilingual card detailing immigrants’ rights when corresponding with ICE agents,” says Audrey Mechling, Legislative Aide for Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D) House District 22, Woodburn.
The card “is helpful for both immigrants and allies to carry with them. The resource list is broken down by region and is a non-comprehensive list of organizations that can help with legal assistance.”
Mechling says that CAUSA and ALCU of Oregon have also been at the front lines of coordinating legal advice for Oregon’s undocumented community.
“Family is at center of everything about immigrants,” Arredondo says. “It’s sad state of affairs when the family unit is under attack like now.”