Teenage Somali Refugee Granted Residency
A Gresham teenager and refugee from Somalia who was nearly deported under President Obama got good news last week in the Trump era: The U.S. government has granted him permanent residency. Last June, WW told the story of Billal, the now-18-year-old refugee. He was thrown into adult immigration detention for two months because dental X-rays suggested he was more likely an adult than a child when he asked for entry to the U.S. at the Mexican border in 2015. Billal, who asked that his last name not be published for fear of drawing further attention to himself, lacked documents but told agents he was only 17. Officials sent him to Portland under a program for unaccompanied minors but immediately began deportation proceedings. They used the dental records to support their case, violating the government's rules on the use of X-rays. That's over now. "It is really amazing," Billal says. "A lot of people have helped me."
Lawmakers Take Aim at Hospital Profits
Numerous Democratic lawmakers and the Service Employees International Union are eager to cut into hospital windfalls from the Affordable Care Act. As WW reported last year, Oregon's aggressive expansion of Medicaid has dramatically shrunk the number of Oregonians who lack health care. That in turn means hospitals provide dramatically less charity care and make huge profits. House Bill 2115, which would put limits on those profits, gets its first hearing March 1 before the House Committee on Health Care. State Reps. Mitch Greenlick and Rob Nosse (both D-Portland), the chairman and vice chairman of the committee, respectively, want the hospitals, nearly all of which are nonprofits, to devote at least 5 percent of their gross revenues to charity care or other community benefit, or surrender their nonprofit status. Currently, there is no specific yardstick to measure whether hospitals provide enough community benefit to be exempt from taxes. "Hospitals have done very well under the Affordable Care Act," Nosse says. "If you get to be a nonprofit because you provide a community benefit, what's the minimum benefit you have to provide?"
Alberta Street Jazz Club Will Stay Open
Solae's Lounge, the black-owned jazz club on Northeast Alberta Street that the city fined for noise violations, has reached a truce with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. ONI took the unusual step of bringing an administrative case against Solae's, among the last jazz clubs in the city. Lawyers and activists decried the noise enforcement as racially biased overreach. The case was resolved Jan. 23, after owner Yosief Embaye agreed to add further soundproofing. The bar has since constructed a vestibule in the back of the building and added another back door. "This case never should have been brought in this manner in the first place," Embaye's attorney, Ashlee Albies, says. "So, given that, I'm glad the city was unsuccessful in trying to put Solae's out of business." Theresa Marchetti, ONI's livability programs manager, is "glad" the bureau was able to address the noise. "These modifications should have happened 18 months ago," she says.