Letters and Op-Eds

Welcome to the OFIR Letters and Op-Eds section.  Here you can read Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds that have been published in various newspapers and news sources.

Ira Mehlman

– Guest columnist Ira Mehlman argues enforcing laws will deter immigrants from entering or staying illegally.

– Columnist Ira Mehlman says the U.S. economy will not collapse without unauthorized immigrants.

The most important thing to recognize when considering the problem of mass illegal immigration is that unauthorized immigrants are rational people who make rational decisions.

For decades, the United States has failed to enforce its immigration laws, and under the current administration the federal government is openly refusing to enforce most of those laws. In addition, an increasing number of state and local governments are bestowing significant benefits and protections on people who violate our nation's immigration laws.

Under the circumstances, we should not be surprised that up to 12 million people are living here illegally. We should probably be surprised that there aren't more.

A second thing to consider is the reason why we have immigration laws in the first place. While immigration always benefits immigrants — they would not be here if it didn't — it often has an adverse impact on large numbers of people in the receiving nation.

Our immigration laws exist to protect vital interests of the American people such as jobs, wages, how tax dollars are spent, access to quality public services and to limit runaway population growth, to name just a few.Dealing with mass illegal immigration requires that we deter as many people as possible from entering or remaining in the United States illegally, coupled with a meaningful threat of enforcement against those who are not deterred.

First and foremost, we need to convince unauthorized immigrants that they are unlikely to find employment in this country. E-Verify, an electronic database that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of the people they hire, must become mandatory for all employers, and meaningful penalties must be imposed against those caught skirting the requirement.

Faced with a diminishing number of employers prepared to hire them, unauthorized immigrants will likely make rational decisions. Fewer will come here and, over time, many who are here will make the decision to return home.

Despite the dire warnings of business lobbyists and advocates for unauthorized immigrants, our economy would not collapse. Just as our economy adjusted to the presence of large numbers of people working illegally, it will adjust to their absence. The economic output of those workers will not be lost; it will be replaced, likely at higher wages, by some of the 90 million working-age adults in this country who by circumstance or choice are not currently participating in the formal labor market.

Other federal and local incentives to illegal immigration must similarly be terminated. In many places, unauthorized immigrants can receive taxpayer-subsidized college educations (including Florida), drivers licenses, professional licenses and assurances that local governments, including law enforcement, will shield them from identification and removal.

Deterrence must be backed up by the meaningful threat of enforcement. Under policies adopted unilaterally by the Obama administration, 87 percent of unauthorized immigrants in the United States face no credible threat of removal. While it is reasonable to prioritize the removal of criminal aliens (although the administration is even doing a poor job of that), it is self-defeating to assure the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants that laws will not be enforced against them.

Deterrence coupled with the threat of meaningful penalties for violation is the way all civil laws are enforced — whether it is the IRS ensuring tax compliance, or the highway patrol enforcing speed limits. It is fair, it is humane and it is necessary to protect the public interest.

The same strategy can and should be applied to controlling illegal immigration so that our laws can achieve their primary mission: serving the economic, social and security interests of the American people.

Ira Mehlman is media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit that promotes stronger border security and stricter immigration limits.

Dianna Allison
The Register Guard

Regarding the Aug. 25 letter about how there are jobs Americans won’t do and that’s why we need illegal immigrants to do those jobs, here are the facts:

Native-born Americans make up 51 percent of all maids and housekeepers, 66 percent of all construction workers and 73 percent of all janitors.

I won’t go into who picks our fruit, etc., because some of that’s done under the table — meaning that illegal immigrants aren’t only being paid to pick fruit, they’re also receiving free services in the form medical care and food from the state Department of Human Services.

If an immigrant’s “anchor baby” is disabled, they can apply for and get Social Security Disability Insurance within six months, whereas it takes most U.S. citizens two years or more to receive that same benefit.

Why? Because citizens have to show proper identification, including a Social Security number, to set up a bank account, while illegal immigrants can walk into any bank and say “No hablo ingles” and get anything they want.

My great-grandmother was so proud of her citizenship she would show her citizenship papers to anyone she could. I, too, am proud to be a European-American; my father was German and my mother is Czechoslovakian.

Francie Duggan
The Register Guard

Many bleeding-heart progressives are attacking the Republican presidential candidates for their position on illegal immigrants, using an “all or nothing” approach.

Want to put a halt to illegal immigration? You can’t just be a citizen concerned about the future of our nation, you must be a hate-filled, fear-driven, intolerant bigot. Want secure borders like most other nations? You must be mean and greedy.

Well, I have questions for the bleeding hearts, at least those who have children: How does illegal immigration benefit their children? Do they even consider their future? Or does their “compassion” somehow insulate them from having to confront those realities?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Why would anyone want to put their own children on that road?

When they come and ask the bleeding hearts what they did to stop the invasion of illegal immigrants that forever changed America for the worse, will they be honest and tell them they supported the immigrants?

James Hadd
The Register Guard

The point that Ron Funke (and other liberals who believe it’s a good idea to have wide-open borders) seem to leave out of their argument is that there are immigrants who came here legally (letters, Aug. 24). They didn’t try to break, twist or misinterpret the law.

The 14th Amendment was added in response to slavery. We’re not kidnapping Mexicans (or anyone else) and bringing them here in chains. It’s an outdated amendment that needs to be changed to eradicate the “anchor baby” provision.

I challenge any liberal to name a single developed country that has the same open border policy as President Obama’s.

In most other countries, illegal immigrants are jailed; in some, they’re shot.

David Huff

Employing illegal aliens: When are politicians and law enforcement in this country going to focus on the real issue of illegal aliens? ...

They need to focus on why illegals come to America. It's for jobs. If there are no jobs, there is no reason to come here illegally.

...The problem lies with those who employ them. If you go after and stop the employers of illegal aliens, there will be no jobs. If there are no jobs, then there is no reason to come here illegally.

But that would require arresting an American to stop an illegal alien from sneaking into this country. Do we dare do that? Let's not forget that these American employers are criminals after all.

Jerry Ritter
The Register Guard

Patricia Michaelson-Duffy made some inaccurate or misleading statements in her Aug. 8 column favoring the recall of state Sen. Floyd Prozanski (“Prozanski a good example of why Oregon has recall law”).

I’m not aware that Prozanski ever voted to give illegal immigrants “free college tuition.” He and his fellow Democrats supported in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, while denying that benefit to legal U.S. residents from other states.

They voted to give Oregon Opportunity Grants to illegal immigrants, thus eliminating that opportunity for some deserving U.S. students because there isn’t enough money in that program to serve all who qualify.

And they attached an emergency clause to that bill (Senate Bill 932) to prevent a referendum because they knew what would have happened had it been taken to the streets, as was done with their illegal immigrant driver’s card bill.

Regarding the emergency clause, Prozanski isn’t alone in his guilt. Both parties abuse that process. There are few bills that warrant an emergency clause, but I’m told it’s now default language when legislative counsel drafts bills. An initiative is in the works to rein in that practice.

Finally, Michaelson-Duffy claimed that “Oregon’s values are not defined by liberal politicians.” All you have to do is observe who gets re-elected time after time, regardless of political blunders, to see the error in that statement.

I suspect Prozanski will have his legislative job for as long as he wants it.

Rep. Mike Nearman
Oregon Catalyst

The idea seems pretty clear to me. I don’t want to cause any trouble. I just want to put the question to the voters, “Do you want English to be the official language of the State of Oregon?”

I’m one of the chief sponsors of an initiative petition, sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), to do just that.

It’s not as if this is unusual. Currently 31 states have English as their official language – including California and Idaho. 

There are 138 languages spoken in Oregon and if you want to be successful – however you define successful for yourself – you should probably learn to speak English. Furthermore, it’s expensive and inefficient for the state to have to operate in multiple languages. So, let’s get out the clipboards, start collecting signatures and have a vote on it.

Not so fast.

As you know, the Attorney General (AG) creates a ballot title for each initiative. Citizens of Oregon who expect fairness should be outraged at the ballot title received from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for the initiative to make English the official language of the State of Oregon:

“Changes state/”subdivision” (undefined) laws regarding English/other-language use and requirements; exceptions; authorizes lawsuits”

It doesn’t seem possible to come up with a less clear explanation of “English is the official language of the State of Oregon”. Apparently, English is not the official language of the AG’s legal department. What is clear is that the government of one party rule has no intention of letting this idea have its day and get a fair shot with voters. That’s too bad.

The next step is for OFIR to appeal the ballot title to the Oregon Supreme Court, where one hopes the AG’s title will fail to pass the laugh test. If not, the same outrage should be directed at the members of the Court. Remember, these people all serve in elected offices, and many were originally appointed by the governor. You might want to hold them accountable.

The good news is that Oregonians for Immigration Reform is considering having a contest to see who can come up with the most emoticons or smileys derived solely from the characters used in AG Rosenblum’s ballot title. :) Have a nice day.

State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is a board member with OFIR and speaks English well enough to write a halfway-decent ballot title. He can be reached at Rep.MikeNearman@state.or.us.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., dares to venture into a taboo subject for Democrats and most Republicans: He advocates reducing the current extremely high volume of legal immigration. In a recent interview, Sanders said, "Open borders? ... That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. ... You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids? ... I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer."

Many studies prove that excessive immigration has adversely affected the wages and job opportunities of citizens. Employers exploit the visa system, which is riddled with fraud, to import foreign workers and dismiss citizens....

Sanders might have mentioned the effects of exploding population numbers on our natural environment, the loss of forests and farmland to ever-expanding housing and related infrastructure, or the overcrowding in cities and the complications of governance for so many people....

U.S. voters do not want the population increases caused by these enormous levels of immigration. Many honest polls say so, and yet congressional leaders of both parties ignore citizens' needs and opinions and work ceaselessly for more and more legal immigration...

In the 2016 presidential race, Sanders is one of the many contenders. He's currently rated F- by NumbersUSA, which compiles records of votes and public statements by candidates on immigration and displays them on their website. His voting record doesn't actually match the support for less immigration that he recently expressed, but he's done a great service to the public just to talk about it. Hopefully, he and Donald Trump will break the taboos on critical examination of our recklessly expansive legal immigration policies. They both speak frankly; how refreshing that is.

Wayne Mayo

Donald Trump isn’t fleecing anyone, courting and cajoling others for endorsements or leaving town the minute he’s elected.

Regarding Daniel Henninger’s “Trump in River City” (Wonder Land, July 30): I loved “The Music Man” as a child. But as much as I liked Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill, he was a sleazy cad looking to fleece anyone he could, reaching out for instant credibility by aligning himself with Marian, the librarian.

Donald Trump isn’t fleecing anyone, courting and cajoling others for endorsements or leaving town the minute he’s elected. Unlike Prof. Hill, we know Mr. Trump—his father, where he was born and raised, what he’s been doing, who his friends are and aren’t.

Mr. Henninger says it’s just the economy, and he who frames the argument best wins. But it’s more. It’s a general feeling among working stiffs like me that “free trade” is costing us. It’s the lack of wage increases because the borders are always letting illegal entrants in who will offer to do our work cheaper and on weekends. Mr. Trump has addressed the border and offers import restrictions should there be cheating in international trade. I also like the way he argues in interviews, which is hugely entertaining.

Finally, Mr. Trump has been in the real world doing deals. He’s made enemies. We’re going to hear from them.


Richard F. LaMountain
Oregon Catalyst

In the 2015 legislative session, majority Democrats denied Oregonians their right to refer many bills to a public vote -- almost certainly, in at least some instances, because they feared voters would reject those bills if given the chance. Here's the story of one such bill -- and of how voters, in 2016, might get an opportunity to stem future such lawmaking abuse.

Senate Bill 932, which was approved by the House and Senate early this month and currently awaits Gov. Kate Brown's signature, credentials illegal-immigrant college students to compete with U.S. citizens for taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grants. This is objectionable enough: Plenty of Oregonians, as we'll see, went on record last year as opposing state-government benefits for foreigners here illegally.

But there's more: SB 932's sponsors saddled the bill with an "emergency clause" -- and with the evident intent of assuring that voters wouldn't again get the chance to take such firm official stand against illegal immigration.

The Oregon constitution stipulates that "no act shall take effect until ninety days from the end of the session at which the same shall have been passed, except in case of emergency; which emergency shall be declared in . . . the law." Such declaration, known as the "emergency clause," speeds a bill's enactment into law. Though, in recent years, few bills containing the clause have addressed true emergencies, its use is common: according to Lewis and Clark senior lecturer emerita Chana Cox, in the 2015 session 46 percent of bills (as of early June) contained an emergency clause. Among those that passed: House Bill 2177, which automatically registers as voters all citizens holding Oregon driver licenses, and SB 941, which expands background checks on people transferring guns. SB 932's emergency clause declares the bill effective "on its passage" -- which means it will become law the moment Brown signs it.

What's the official reason for SB 932's emergency clause? So its intended beneficiaries, bill sponsor Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) told Eugene's Register-Guard last spring, can (in the newspaper's words) "access opportunity grants in the coming school year."

But here's the rub: Absent a successful referral -- for which, we'll see, there is a high bar -- those beneficiaries would have been able to seek and win grants even if SB 932 hadn't had an emergency clause. For the next Oregon Opportunity Grants that will be available -- for the school year of 2016-17 -- the state government's Office of Student Access and Completion urges interested parties to submit their applications as soon after January 1, 2016 as possible. Had, then, Dembrow forsworn the emergency clause, and in SB 932's text merely stipulated that the bill take effect no fewer than 90 days from the end of the session (which will be early October), its beneficiaries still would have had ample time -- some two-and-a-half months -- to have prepared and submitted their applications within OSAC's suggested time frame. (For those who would argue that SB 932 needed the emergency clause because sessions' adjournment dates are never certain, consider: In the past 130 years no session has extended beyond late August, and most recent sessions have concluded by early July.)

Might, then, there have been an unspoken reason for SB 932's emergency clause?

Perhaps. When a bill contains an emergency clause, once signed it is not merely sped into law: the clause also forecloses Oregonians' ability to try to give their fellow citizens the chance to approve or disapprove it via referendum.

The reason? To refer a bill to voters, its opponents must engage in a constitutionally-stipulated and time-consuming process: collect the signatures of registered voters numbering at least 4 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last election. This must be done within 90 days of a legislative session's end -- not coincidentally, the same length of time it takes bills that don't have emergency clauses to become law. If a bill's opponents collect the requisite signatures, the bill, rather than become law after 90 days, remains unenacted until after the referendum vote, which affirms or rejects it as law. But when an emergency clause stipulates that a bill, once signed, becomes law immediately, it forecloses the referendum possibility.

Could this have been the real reason for SB 932's emergency clause?

Consider: In spring 2013, the legislature approved and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed SB 833, which would have authorized driver cards for illegal immigrants. But the bill's opponents collected sufficient signatures to refer it to the November 2014 ballot, at which voters rejected it. The magnitude of that rejection -- the margin was almost two-to-one -- made clear: the vote transcended the issue of driver cards to constitute a general mandate against state-government policies that offer benefits to illegal immigrants.

Even after voters' annihilation of driver cards, however, Oregon's legislative Democrats remain virtually unanimous in their support of illegal-immigrant "rights." Case in point: A recent letter to Salem's Statesman Journal newspaper, signed by all 35 House Democrats, contended that "keeping our state a great place to live" will require that all Oregon residents are "treated equally" regardless "of their . . . citizenship status."

So it is reasonable to ask: Was an emergency clause written into SB 932 with the specific intent of keeping it from being referred to voters and, potentially, meeting the same fate as illegal-immigrant driver cards?

Only Sen. Dembrow and SB 932's co-sponsors can answer that question. Whatever their answer would be, however, the bill's story illustrates the need to rein in the emergency clause's future use.

For the November 2016 ballot, a measure has been filed to do just that. If passed by voters, the "No More Fake Emergencies Act" -- Initiative No. 49 -- would enact a constitutional amendment that would require most bills containing emergency clauses to receive the votes of two-thirds of the members of each the House and the Senate to pass. This would restrict legislators' ability to use the emergency clause to thwart potential referenda of bills they believe would be defeated if put to popular vote -- a cynical, antidemocratic practice that poisons public confidence in the lawmaking process and, indeed, perverts the relationship between legislators and the Oregonians who elect them.

To reach the ballot, by July 2016 Initiative No. 49 will need the signatures of more than 117,000 registered voters. In days to come, the Catalyst will inform readers of how to print and sign an online petition to help qualify the initiative -- and in doing so to help restore the voice of the citizen, as manifested in the referendum, to its preeminent place in Oregon's representative democracy.
Richard F. LaMountain, a former vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, served as a chief petitioner of the 2014 referendum via which Oregon voters rejected the 2013 bill that sought to grant driver cards to illegal immigrants.