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As many of my readers know, I am always critical of the laws in Oregon, compared to Washington state. As I have said before, two states, like two different countries, that only have one main thing in common: they both speak English. Other than that, they are worlds apart.
As some of you may have read in my previous article on DUIs, there are at times serious immigration consequences when a person has pled guilty or been convicted by a jury for a crime in the United States for those that are not US citizens. This art5icle explores those consequences as they apply to Oregon and Washington state. Basically, Washington state is much more on the front line in preventing deportation of its residents by the federal government, Oregon does not care one bit about it at all. Hence, my advice to immigrant or nonimmigrant Visa holders in the Pacific Northwest: EXODUS NORTH TO WASHINGTON STATE!
The laws in the state of Oregon are ABSOLUTELY NOT immigrant friendly.
First, what you need to know is, that under immigration law, any crime with a sentence of 365 days or more is considered an aggravated felony and deportable as such by the federal government: regardless if the crime was labelled a misdemeanor under state law. How does Washington state handle this, for example? Exceptionally better than most states. The state of Washington, in the early 2000s, enacted the maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor to be 364 DAYS, NOT 365. The law in Oregon is 365 days. So, there are countless numbers of misdemeanor crimes in Oregon that are deportable, where just north of the river, they are not in Washington state. This has saved so many people in Washington state from having to leave. And you wonder why Washington state is producing so many more international geniuses than Oregon. Washington is trying to keep them in, where Oregon seems to prefer to ship them out.
Second, the alternative dispute resolution of criminal cases, differs greatly between Oregon and Washington. And so do the immigration consequences! Under immigration law, any confession to a person of authority (usually a plea) is grounds for ICE to detain and remove someone from the United States. IT DOES NEED TO BE A CONVICTION! So, Washington state, on occasion, has its laws setup to get around this problem. This is what is called a stipulated order of continuance (SOC). In an SOC, the defendant DOES NOT PLEA GUILTY. They agree to hold the case open for a year, not commit any law violations, pay a fine, and then the case is dismissed after a year. These are given sparingly by prosecutors but are useful, especially for first time offenders on low level crimes. Again, no plea, no removability. In Oregon, it is all backwards! Under ORS 137.533, the defendant pleads guilty (hence: a confession to a person of authority), but the plea is withheld or deferred, and if the defendant complied with the courts order to complete the terms of adjudication (classes, fine, no criminal law violations), then the plea is withdrawn and the case is dismissed. Unfortunately for the defendant, the immigration case has just begun and the plea makes the defendant removable for the crime. The complete opposite of Washington state! Come on lawmakers in Oregon, haven’t you learned yet? They are thriving up north in Washington state on immigrate brainpower, and you are still down there wondering what’s going wrong with your overall workforce? The laws in Oregon need a revolution of change in a direction that is better for their economy and more in tune with immigration law and policies.
Third, as a final point, the state of Oregon, by initiative and later codified by the legislature, requires that all DUIs cannot be reduced by prosecutors. Washington state has a tiered system of DUIs. The system is DUIs above .15, DUIs below a .15, and above a .08, DUIs for mere physical control, Reckless Driving, and the small crime of negligent driving first degree, and the infraction of negligent driving in the 2nd degree. This is a lot of breathing room for justice to be served under a millennium of possible facts patterns. In Oregon, it’s a DUI or trial. No room to move to adjust for people’s physical being, for their own mental states of mind, for any emergency situations, or false positive in blood and alcohol and urine tests. Also, in the recent immigration policy of removing people or revoking visas for DUI arrests labelling alcoholism a disease and thereof excludable under the immigration code, Oregon just sealed the deal for a pretty large portion of the workforce.
Again, I’m always critical of the laws of Oregon. They are too antiquated. They are not shaping the 21 st century as being more humane, as the laws in Washington state are. So, for all those immigrants in the Pacific Northwest, it’s exodus north, to Washington state, for a less risky life.
— Gregory Scott Hoover, Attorney at Law
Gregory Scott Hoover’s primary area of legal practice is in the form of civil, personal injury and criminal litigation, immigration law and assisting those involved in EB-5 transactions. Mr. Hoover is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and New York, U.S.A., and England and Wales, U.K. Mr. Hoover is also a skilled negotiator, mediator and arbitrator. As a skilled negotiator and litigator, Mr. Hoover can skillfully resolve your situation through effective negotiations or, if necessary, aggressively represent your matter in court.
Hoover Law Group
815 S. Weller Street Suite 105, Seattle, WA 98104
Hoover Law Group
650 Holladay Street Suite 1600
Portland, OR 97232


  1. Steve says:

    So true in Oregon. So true.

  2. Sean says:

    Great comparison. Thank you!

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