Chairman Jose Garcia called the meeting to order at 7:01 pm. Committee members present were Roy Barron and Hector Ramirez. Mark Gomolski was excused. Council Representatives Manuel Gutierrez was present, as well as City Representatives Mark Morgan and Lilly Alarcon-Strong. The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
Roy moved and Hector seconded to approve the minutes of the June meeting. Motion carried unanimously.
Hermiston High School Mentoring Program
Michelle Munro from the Hermiston High School Mentoring Program was not in attendance; therefore, no information was presented.
Jesus Rome was not in attendance. Jose thanked Jesus for his service and stated he would make sure the Certificate of Recognition made it to Jesus.
Meetings from June through August
Jose stated during summer months, meetings consist of almost no public attendance. The weather is nice and people would rather be enjoying this time with family and friends. And, as such, it may be a good idea not to hold meetings from June through August. Jose asked the Committee and public for their input on the subject.
Manuel stated he thought it is a good idea to not hold meetings during this time frame. Most of those who attend meetings are farm workers who work very long hours during the summer months and cannot attend. During the winter, the meeting room is completely filled with people. It is important to adjust meetings to their schedules.
The Committee agreed and stated they will still be available by email or phone and can come to the Council Meetings to address any issues that come up during this time frame.
Roy moved and Hector seconded to not hold meetings from June through August and convene again in September. Motion carried unanimously.
Chair and Vice Chair Nominations
Due to the lack of Committee attendance, Roy moved and Hector seconded to table these discussions until the September meeting. Motion carried unanimously.
Church of the Redeemer Immigration Meeting
Kit Morgan and Dave Keeler from the Church of the Redeemer in Pendleton stated they would like to continue their planning attempts to host a forum with regards to immigration and the many difficulties undocumented individuals face. Their goal is to keep families together and in order to do this, they need to learn more about their needs and fears; and, in the meanwhile, build relationships within the region and educating people who do not know about these issues. They would also like to focus on “planning”- what would happen if parents are deported and children stay here, etc. They have invited Catholic Charites, someone from the Immigration Enforcement Division, and others to speak about their rights, what they can do to become legal citizens, and enforcement issues. Immigration Enforcement has been invited as it is important to have perspectives from all sides.
Manuel stated it is important to educated people about immigrants. Some people believe Hispanics are taking every ones jobs, when in reality, most jobs performed by immigrants is field work that no one wants to do. The community needs to focus on providing more Hispanic Foster Homes for those children who may, and do, end up being displaced from their home. People come here for a better life.
Jose agreed and stated people from all over the world come here to live the American Dream. And, although this can be very touchy subjects, people travel to the United States in hopes of giving a better life to their children. We live in a County that is a magnet to the entire world. Jose stated he feels there may be an absent number of attendees to this proposed meeting as people may worry that they may be deported; there are also a number of people, who are documented, that do not want to travel to Mexico as they fear that their passports will be taken away as well.
An audience member stated he believed that Hispanics are some of the best and hardest workers, and believes if people continue to be deported, especially agriculture workers, this will negatively effect the entire US population, as who will do this work. This is already a problem in California with the strawberry crops.
Brenda Flores stated she believed people would not attend this meeting if they know ICE Agent(s) will be present, and asked if transportation would be provided for those who do not have a license or a vehicle.
Kit stated he understands, but it is important to hear different perspectives in a respectable manner. Perhaps two meetings can be hosted, one in Pendleton and another in Hermiston to accommodate transportation needs.
After more discussion, Roy was assigned to coordinate planning efforts with Kit.
Brenda Flores stated she is a student at Western Oregon University and was also an intern for Oregon’s Immigrant Rights Organization. While living on the western side of the state, she noticed there is a lot of support for undocumented immigrants and Hispanics in general, and would like to see more support on this side of the state as well. Brenda would like to see Hermiston be an Inclusivity City, which means the City’s police force and city officials will not work with ICE when they come into the area to deport immigrants. Brenda stated she is reaching out to local organizations for support as she has heard the police department in this area has illegally stopped individuals, based on race, just to see if they have a license. It is important for Hispanics to feel safe in the communities they live in and have trust in the police department.
Jose stated Hermiston is an Inclusive Community and has repeatedly shown this by its formation of HAC.
Mark Morgan stated Oregon has also been a sanctuary state since the 1980’s, so it is illegal for local police to work with ICE. It may be a matter of educating the public on this and other facts related to these items.
Brenda agreed and stated many people do not do their own research, but instead, listen to rumors. Many Hispanics also do not have time or understand how to research these items as well, so it may be best to declare Hermiston an Inclusivity City to show support and help inform them, especially with the recent presidency. If Hermiston starts this process, perhaps other cities in the area will follow lead.
Manuel stated he and Lilly were Police Reserves in Hermiston and the Hermiston Police Department does not profile or stop anyone based on race. People should focus on following the law and paying attention to posted speed limit signs and making sure their vehicle has all working lights, etc.
Hector stated he is a Chaplin for the Hermiston Police Department and agrees with Manuel. Under the leadership of Chief Edmiston, police meet daily and know the law.
Brenda asked that Manuel support this endeavor, as a City Councilor, at a City Council meeting when this issue is raised and asked that the Committee hold a Know Your Rights workshop with police presence so people can directly ask questions to law enforcement.
The Committee informed Brenda that a meeting, such as the one she is proposing, is hosted by HAC annually with Chief Edmiston, Sheriff Rowan, and Catholic Charities, with the most recent a few months ago. All information regarding that meeting is posted on the City’s website.
Brenda suggested that this be an all-day event with food and a lot of advertising so lots of the community can attend. Brenda stated she would really like to see this happen and know that this is making a good impact on this community. The community she grew up in, and, after she graduates from college, will return too.
The Committee thought this was a great idea.
An audience member asked if the Committee was still working on getting the consulate to come to Hermiston.
Jose said yes, he has contacted them and is still waiting to hear back. The Mexican Consulate also travels annually to Umatilla.
Roy proposed that the Committee create a Hispanic Scholarship Foundation for students wanting to continue their post-secondary education and stated this would be a great way for the Committee to be out in the community. Roy volunteered to head this effort.
Hector stated he is the Vice Chair of the Eastern Oregon Scholarship Foundation, a recently formed scholarship foundation to help with this exact goal. The Scholarship Foundation is still in its development phase and the next scheduled Board Meeting is tomorrow. Hector stated he will communicate with Roy about future meetings so that he can be involved, if he so chooses.
Mark Morgan suggested the Eastern Oregon Scholarship Foundation would be a great Board for the Committee to work with if they want to be involved with something like this.
Manuel stated Good Shephard Community Health Foundation also gives scholarships to those wanting to further their education in the medical field, some of which has been set aside specifically for Hispanic students.
Roy stated these are great ideas but would also like Committee members to be interacting more with the community in these endeavors as well.
Mark Morgan gave information regarding the:
- Water Meter Replacement Project
- State Transportation Package, Public Infrastructure Committee, and an increase of Franchise Fees
- Marijuana Tax Revenues that will be received
Next Scheduled Meeting
The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, September 18th at 7:00 pm.
Meeting Adjourned at 8:10 pm.