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The ‘Hugo Rule’ for youth councilors

To the Editor:

I am a proud graduate of McNary High School, class of 1997, having attended all four years.

I was the first president of the multicultural club, bilingual writer on The Piper, officer of FBLA, member of Peer Helpers, had a brief stint on student council, and I also volunteered outside of school.  One of my teachers was former State Representative Vic Backlund.

For part of my high school career I was undocumented.  I am now a U.S. citizen.  It took me 10 years, but I am proof that formerly undocumented folks can in fact become U.S. citizens!  Being an undocumented immigrant is a legal status.  It is nothing like having an incurable illness.

This decision is wrong on so many fronts:  This is clearly about immigration—the councilors found out about Hugo’s status and are wanting to make sure they don’t appear to cater in any way to undocumented people.  If, as the article implies, only U.S. citizens will be eligible for this non-voting position, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) are being discriminated against. They are eligible to become U.S. citizens after a minimum of five years, but yet won’t be given the chance to learn about their adopted homeland.  It forces the city’s community partners to screen for citizenship when they find a “diamond in the rough.” What incentive would they have for supporting someone who will be turned away because they are not a U.S. citizen, but only a legal permanent resident, a resident with a work permit, or undocumented?

I have wonderful memories of Keizer and of McNary.  Unfortunately, I also experienced racism at McNary from well-respected members of the community.  This decision has brought back all the wrong memories for me.

Levi Herrera-Lopez
Salem