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OCHA Policy Research & Recommendations

OCHA Policy Research & Recommendations

The Oregon Advocacy Commissions (OACs) and applied public policy research go together. It is part of our statutory missions to study entrenched issues challenging marginalized communities and inform public policy. The goal of the research is to provide essential data and practice review, analysis, and recommendations for policy areas of strategic interest to the Commissions. The research is in collaboration with the OACs, state and community partners and Oregon universities, and providing best resources available on key issues.

OCHA leadership on foundational policy research and Advocacy for Mental Health (MH) for Latinos
Between 2017 and 2020, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs partnered with OHA, DHS, and a consortium of Latino community practitioners and experts statewide to prepare the first seminal report on MH and Latinos using OHA data from 1983 – 2013, national and Oregon best practice review, literature review, and policy recommendations.  In the legislative sessions and interim legislative committee meetings on Health, Mental Health (MH), and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Behavioral Health, the OCHA and its partners have provided informational testimony and supported bills that further more equitable MH and Behavioral Health (BH) services, culturally and linguistically relevant, and trauma informed for Indigenous and Hispanic communities statewide. The MH and Latinos report and its underlying four quantitative and qualitative studies are now included as the foundational reading for legislative and governor’s committees on the subject and the policy recommendations are guiding bill wording.  The studies, which identified school settings as the primary referral and service point for Latino children into the MH and BH systems, has also supported the Oregon Department of Education and the legislature in their Student Success policy work to identify MH services in schools with focus on areas of scarcity in rural locations as a formal part of student success statewide.
The Oregon MH and Latinos study has been presented widely in conferences across Oregon and will be part of a set of scholarly articles planned for publication in 2021. The Executive Summary and Final Report of MH and Latinos will be formally released in 2020.

OCHA appointed to 2015 Legislative Taskforce on Immigration Consultant Fraud and supports passage of HB 4128 
Over the summer of 2015, the Governor appointed OCHA Commissioner, Judy Parker, to represent the Commission on a legislative taskforce on Immigration Fraud, Co-chaired by Senator Gelser and Representative Vega Pederson.  The work of the taskforce, which produced a successful 2016 bill on the subject, focused on penalties for Notario or Immigration Fraud which is an illegal practice of falsely representing oneself as an immigration expert in order to defraud vulnerable immigrants.   During its meetings, the Task Force analyzed the existing provisions of ORS 9.280, ORS 9.990, ORS 162.235, ORS 162.365, and ORS chapter 194. Consistent with its charge, the Task Force explored amending criminal and civil regulatory statutes.  The Task Force discussed providing law enforcement with improved tools to fight notario fraud, and expanding the Secretary of State’s regulatory authority over notaries who engage in the unlawful practice of law.  The Task Force also discussed amending ORS 164.075, Oregon’s Theft by Extortion statute, ORS 162.235, Oregon's Obstruction of Justice statute and ORS 162.365, Oregon’s Criminal Impersonation statute.  See the final report of the task force here.

The Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, in coalition with the other Advocacy Commissions, testified in support of the resulting 2016 bill, HB 4128, which addressed a serious issue in Latino and other immigrant communities – that of unlicensed non-lawyer “immigration consultants” (often referred to as “notarios”) which prey on certain members of the public. Unlicensed immigration consultants were already prohibited under ORS 9.280, but prior to passage of HB 4128, when someone applied for a notary public license, the Secretary of State had no discretion to deny it. Likewise, there were few tools for prosecutors to use to indict and bring to
trial individuals who had violated the public’s trust by pretending to be a fully licensed notario or the equivalent of an immigration consultant.

The passage of HB 4128 in 2016 gave law enforcement a tool to investigate, charge, and prosecute egregious violations of Oregon’s unlawful practice of law statute. It also encourages victims of those crimes to feel comfortable meeting with law enforcement.
This legislation was the product of the task force involving the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, representatives of the Oregon Department of Justice, District Attorneys, the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Oregon State Bar, the Secretary of State’s office, and the Human Trafficking Unit of Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

OCHA’s work in support of Oregon’s Inclusive Social Studies Standards
In 2013, Senator Jackie Winters sponsored a bill that made OCHA and the Advocacy Commissions partners with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) in building a set of resources to help make Social Studies curricula in grade schools inclusive of the contributions of Oregon’s diverse citizenry over its history.   That accomplished, OCHA commissioners Dr. Daniel Lopez Cevallos and Diego Hernandez were invited to participate in ODE’s Inclusive Social Studies Summit where educators and experts statewide came together in July, 2016 to review and comment on ODE’s new standards for inclusive social studies pedagogy.  OCHA’s contributions on that day and the OAC’s interest going forward will help set and then monitor Oregon’s success in making its social studies representative of the notable contributions communities of color to our great state.  The work of the Social Studies Standards workgroup within ODE completed its work in 2019 with formal presentations to the legislature, State School Board, and internally, as well as approved versions for textbook publishers, with recommendations for grade appropriate social studies standards and curricula.