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Protecting immigrant youth with a home

I want to tell you about Maria:

When Maria was 14, both of her parents died, leaving her orphaned, alone, and vulnerable. Fleeing the dangers of gang violence and human trafficking, she left her home in Honduras to live with family friends in Oregon. But because of a legal technicality, Maria ran into a new web of problems.

When Maria petitioned the court to have her family friend appointed as her guardian, she was denied – because according to the law, Maria was just a little too old for guardianship.

Youth like Maria are stuck in the middle of a mismatch between federal and Oregon state law, unable to access critical federal resources, and facing an uncertain, dangerous future. Without the support of a guardian, they're cut off between the ages of 18-21 from the support of committed, caring adults that all young people need to thrive.

We can fix this.

Our country is, at last, coming out from under a cloud of xenophobia. In Washington, President Biden has announced plans to bring humanity and compassion to our immigration system. Here in Oregon, I'm fighting to do our part for youth like Maria by helping them stabilize their lives and pursue the American dream.

We've worked side-by-side with community leaders and organizations including the ACLU of Oregon, the Oregon Law Center, and the Oregon Alliance to craft legislation to close this loophole and make sure that vulnerable youth between the ages of 18-21 can have a court appoint a legally-recognized guardian. We've introduced our bill and last week we had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary. With your support, I'm confident that we will get this bill passed this year, and finally, provide crucial support to youth that need it most.

Maria is one of our neighbors. Part of our community. And she deserves the safety, relationships, and support to thrive here in Oregon.

As always, I'm honored to be serving in the legislature and pursuing progress and justice. I'll keep you updated on this critical work as we make our way through the legislative session.

Rob

Posted on February 8, 2021.