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Wyden stops in Woodburn for town hall meeting
U.S. senator says he will encourage the 'Oregon way' in Congress
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expressed both concerns about a Donald Trump presidency and a desire to bring Oregon's inclusive spirit to national politics at his Jan. 13 town hall meeting at Woodburn High School.
The event was part of Wyden's effort to hold a town hall meeting in every Oregon county each year he is in office. This year's Marion County town hall was Wyden's 782nd since he was first elected senator in 1996.
More than 100 people, most of whom were Woodburn high school students, attended the event.
State Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon introduced Wyden, praising him for his work in engaging his constituents. "He made time in his busy schedule to help get out the vote here in Marion County," Alonso Leon said of Wyden's work during the November 2016 election.
Wyden's introductory remarks highlighted what he calls the "Oregon way," contrasting it with President-elect Trump's policies and attitudes.
"In our state, we're all about bringing people together. We're about being inclusive and showing respect for one another," Wyden said. "Some of what's being talked about back there is pretty far removed from what I call the Oregon way."
More than 20 audience members asked questions during the town hall. The majority of questions were related to anxieties about a Trump presidency, including questions about the future of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the future of the Affordable Care Act and the president-elect's attitudes toward foreign intervention.
In many of his answers, Wyden said he was troubled by Trump's actions both on the campaign trail and after the election, but expressed uncertainty about what his presidency will actually look like.
"We're still trying to sort out whether what the president-elect said he was going to do in the campaign is what he's actually going to do," Wyden said.
When asked about whether undocumented immigrants will be protected under a Trump presidency, Wyden said he would work to maintain the protections currently in place, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
"(Trump) keeps saying that he's really going to come up with a system that works for everybody," Wyden said. "If that's the case he can't be in the business of building walls and setting up religious registries and rolling back protections for students who are concerned about DACA."
In his closing remarks, Wyden was ultimately optimistic.
"Certainly there will be enormous challenges in the coming years," he said. "But if we keep coming back to the Oregon way, as I call it, bringing people together, treating people with respect, recognizing we have differences and finding common ground around principles, we're going to get through this."
After the event was over, Wyden said his main takeaway was how impressed he was with the young audience members.
"They wanted to know that government was doing something that really meant something to their community and their family," Wyden said. "And my takeaway is that Woodburn ought to feel really good about the young people that are going to be leaving this school soon."