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.

EJ Montini

Criminal illegal aliens must be deported before they attack hardworking citizens like 21-year-old Grant.

I don't know anyone who wasn't horrified and heart-broken when news broke that 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck, a good kid working hard, was shot dead while clerking at a QuikTrip store in Mesa in January.

I don't know anyone who wasn't angry and outraged to learn that the man eventually charged with the murder, Apolinar Altamirano, was in the country illegally and already had been convicted of felony burglary.

Good people disagree about a lot when it comes to immigration issues.

But I don't know anyone who wants to allow immigrants convicted of serious crimes to stay here...

Since Grant's death we've learned that 121 undocumented immigrants who were released while awaiting deportation after committing crimes were later charged with homicides between 2010 and 2014....

Allowing convicted criminals or those who are caught up in cases involving serious crimes to remain in the country not only puts people at risk,...

EJ Montini is a columnist at the Arizona Republic, where this column was first published.

Dallas Miller

Regarding the June 27 letter from Oregon Rep. Joe Gallegos and his gang of 34 Democrats, he is/they are deeply saddened that Oregonians who normally value hard work and better futures for their children should support the laws against illegal immigration.

He says the rally for support of the law is really supporting inhumane treatment and detention of these wonderful law-breakers.

As a state representative, he is a lawmaker, yet he criticizes and harangues people who support the law and practically confers sainthood on illegals.

People often follow emotion.  It would be expected that an elected representative would support the law and not throw the bombs of racism and inhumanity at people who attend a peaceful rally supporting immigration law.


Cynthia Kendoll
Statesman Journal

How disappointing to read the Statesman Journal’s coverage of Saturday’s grassroots rally on the steps of the state Capitol with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The prominent photo coverage of the event would have your readers believing the actual scheduled event was the counter-rally.

Almost no mention was made about the purpose of the rally or of the dozen other speakers who addressed the enthusiastic crowd of nearly 200 (twice what was reported).

A state senator, three state representatives, an Oregon sheriff, the chair of the Oregon Republican Party and leaders of many grassroots organizations spoke at the event. But their remarks were apparently ignored as irrelevant to make room for quotes from a masked man and those attempting to disrupt the rally by drowning out legitimate viewpoints with which they disagreed.

No mention was made of the rude and disruptive behavior of the group. Bullhorn-guided chants, blowing whistles and yelling continued throughout entire event.

It makes me wonder what the Statesman Journal coverage would have been like if the situation were reversed.

Your readers did not get complete or balanced information.

Jim Elvin
Statesman Journal

Salem is being blessed with the presence of the most-dedicated person in law enforcement in the United States and we have local citizens making derogatory remarks about him in the Statesman Journal.

It sure makes a person wonder if they would prefer no law enforcement at all.

Sheriff Arpaio from Arizona has a lot of respect and admiration from most law-abiding citizens for the great job he's doing. I can certainly understand why the criminals and the illegal aliens don't like him, but I was very surprised by the remarks from the liberals and by the fact that the Statesman Journal gave them so much ink.

I would like to think that most liberals support good law enforcement and I don't know how anyone could find a better person in this field than Sheriff Arpaio.

Frederick Allen Waring
Statesman Journal

Hear, hear to Lyneil Vandermolen’s June 22 letter, “SB 932 another cynical Democratic trick.” Totally aside from the purpose of SB 932, attaching an emergency clause to subvert the ability of the people to respond legally if sufficient numbers disagree is dictatorial.

Peter Courtney knows his bill to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens (without at least granting it to every out-of-state applicant) was unpopular with a lot of people. Now he wants to allow the same population to apply for state-funded education grants. He knows this may be enough to cause Oregonians to rally for just governance, not allowing one man with too much influence to dictate his will.

Our only hope is that Gov. Brown will veto this bill if it makes it to her desk. She may or may not agree with Sen. Courtney about the purpose, but surely she will not allow one man or small group of legislators, using power grabbing tricks, to deny Oregon citizens their right to challenge a law.


Lyneil Vandermolen
East Oregonian

Your copy editor displayed his bias when he titled the letter from David Olen Cross “Immigrants shouldn’t have access to state scholarships.”

Illegal aliens aren’t the same as immigrants, and your staffer’s attempt to blur the distinction between the two is intellectually dishonest. He ignores the fact Oregon continually shortchanges citizens to fund illegal immigrants. For instance, the Talented and Gifted Program has shrunk while we spend one and a half times as much on bi-lingual education as English education. Taxpayers must subsidize the college tuition of illegal aliens while citizens from other states have to pay full price.

As if the burden isn’t enough, legislative Democrats want us to also give free scholarship money to illegally present students from a limited program that only awards help to 20 percent of citizens who apply, and who must now compete with illegal aliens.

Mexico doesn’t undermine its population by awarding extravagant benefits to lawbreakers, and neither should we. Your headline writer is an example of the manipulation citizens undergo to tolerate mass illegal infiltration.

Lyneil Vandermolen


Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Statesman Journal

A bill pending in the Legislature, SB 932, authorizes opportunity grants to illegal alien college students, forcing young citizens to compete with illegal aliens for scarce tuition-aid funding.

This bill is very unjust to citizens and unwise for the state and the whole country.

Hard working Oregon citizens are struggling to create a better life for their children. Their tax dollars should not be used to provide tuition aid for illegal immigrants, especially when only a small percentage of eligible and needy citizen applicants can receive the opportunity grants annually.

Illegal alien parents are responsible for the situation these illegal alien children are in; the children and their parents must recognize that responsibility. They have no right to demand benefits here. They are citizens of another country and should look to that country for help, or return there and follow established procedures for immigrating here legally. Better yet, they should return to their own country and help it improve living conditions so that there is no urgency to leave.

Citizenship and nationhood are important concepts and must be honored.

Toleration of and acquiescence to illegal immigration mean open borders and the death of a nation.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren


Lyneil Vandermolen
Statesman Journal

The Democratic majority is once again planning to burden the voters it claims to represent.

Having learned nothing from the statewide pushback against the driver card for illegal aliens, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education just voted to make citizens compete against illegal aliens students for extremely limited college opportunity grants.

Only 20 percent of American applicants received this grant money last year, and that number will shrink as DACA recipients take advantage of SB 932 if it passes the Legislature.

Oregonians are already forced to subsidize in-state tuition for illegal alien students – a freebie unavailable to Americans from out of state. If SB 932 passes, the emergency clause attached to it prevents voters from reversing the bill as they did with the driver card.

SB 932 is another cynical Democratic attempt to secure the illegal alien vote once their amnesties are complete. As for citizens, we're being shaken down and forced to the back of the representational bus.

David Olen Cross
Statesman Journal

Sens. Peter Courtney of Salem and Michael Dembrow of Portland, along with Reps. Betty Komp of Woodburn, Jessica Vega Peterson of Portland and Joe Gallegos of Hillsboro, sponsored Senate Bill 932, which would grant access to Oregon Opportunity Grants to illegal immigrants.

That sponsorship makes these legislators seem tone deaf to the will of nearly 1 million Oregon voters (66 percent) who less than eight months ago rejected during the 2014 General Election Measure 88, which would have granted state-issued driver cards to illegal immigrants.

By a 2-to-1 ratio, voters defeated Measure 88, indicating that Oregon voters are very opposed to providing illegal immigrants any form of state benefit, such as a state-issued identity, that would validate their presence in the state.

SB 932 in a very clear way validates the presence of illegal immigrants in the state by granting them the benefit of equal access to Oregon Opportunity Grants.

This school year only 30 percent of the 120,000 Oregon students eligible obtained a taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant.

Currently, there are not enough state monies available to fund Oregon Opportunity Grants for all Oregon students who are U.S. citizens, let alone for persons illegally in the state.

The financial impact of SB 932 on the state’s taxpayers is that the legislation could require the state to write a check in the amount of up to $2,100 for the 2015-2016 school years to each illegal immigrant who applies and is accepted to receive a grant.

Over the period that it takes to complete a traditional four-year college education, an individual illegal immigrant could receive as much as $8,400 in state opportunity grants.

Earlier this year, Rep. Vega Peterson estimated that 76 illegal immigrants living in Oregon could be eligible to receive the grants.

Doing the math on 76 illegal immigrants receiving Oregon Opportunity Grants for one to four years, that could cost the state’s taxpayers between $159,600 and $638,400.

The state administrative costs for giving illegal immigrants opportunity grants are estimated over the next four years to be $144,499.

The preceding numbers very likely underestimate the total number of illegal residents who might actually receive the opportunity grants in the future because, according to the Pew Research Center, there are 120,000 unauthorized residents in Oregon.

A final troubling fact about SB 932 is that the sponsors have placed an emergency clause on the bill, which means Oregonians opposing this legislation would be prevented from using the state’s referendum process to put this issue before the state’s voters.

Oregon voters who reject the idea of granting the benefit of Oregon Opportunity Grants to illegal immigrants, a legislative action that validates their presence in the state, should contact their state senator and representative and tell them to vote no on SB 932.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com.

Andy Seles
Mail Tribune

Recently, Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue touted the “fast-track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill currently before Congress as “vital to Oregon,” implying that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal benefits the operators of small and medium-sized farms he claims to represent.

At first glance, an expanded market may seem a golden opportunity; however, a holistic cost-benefit analysis suggests otherwise. Missing from Bushue’s opinion is the fact that he is an unabashed supporter of genetically engineered crops and that OFB, having received large contributions from Monsanto and Syngenta, spent over $150,000 in its support of Oregon’s passage of the "Monsanto Protection Act."

If you think taking on a giant like Monsanto has been a trial here in Jackson County, pity the folks in the village of San Sebastian in El Salvador. They suffer diseases linked to arsenic poisoning, the result of the yellow river of acid that flows into the San Sebastian River where it kills all aquatic life and pollutes their drinking water.

The acid is a waste product of a mine owned by the Australian company OceanaGold. San Sebastian is in a country that unfortunately bought into an ill-advised trade deal that overrides local control. Ironically, OceanGold is suing El Salvador for $301 million because the government did not grant it a mining permit.

El Salvador isn’t alone in buyer’s remorse. Another gold company, Infinito Gold, is suing the government of Costa Rica for environmental policies that are cutting into their corporate profits.

All that sues isn’t gold. Phillip Morris is suing Uruguay over that country’s anti-smoking policies, specifically Uruguay’s requirement for medical warnings on cigarette packages. Another example is Swedish nuclear-power utility Vattenfall’s suit against the German government for $4.7 billion, seeking compensation for Germany’s phase-out of nuclear plants. All of these investor-vs.-state cases are being decided before secretive, corporate, international tribunals sanctioned by international trade deals.

The TPA, endorsed by President Obama and passed successfully in the Senate, is currently before the House of Representatives. It paves the way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will put similar lawsuits in the hands of similar international tribunals, under the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) chapter. ISDS gives foreign firms (U.S. corporations can easily create foreign subsidiaries) special rights to apply to a tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes laws that negatively affect corporate profits, overriding the laws of local, state and national governments.

It’s possible under the TPP that successful local community actions against GMOs and their pesticides, for example, would be viewed as obstructions to free trade; corporations could simply sue the offending member country, defeat any local ordinance, and receive compensation. Any attempts to label GMOs, and previous laws allowing labeling, could be canceled.

Sugar-coating, “free trade” proponents argue that environmental protections are built into the agreement, but such agreements lack enforcement provisions, and their ISDS provisions, as in the aforementioned examples, have been exclusively used by multi-national corporations to sue governments for damages to their profits.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, who opposes the TPP, notes that, since adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), over 50,000 American factories and 5 million good, middle-class U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost. TPP (sometimes called “NAFTA on steroids”) would replicate and expand the NAFTA model, offshoring even more U.S. jobs to low-wage countries.

Environmental and labor concerns notwithstanding, the greatest danger of the TPP is its threat to our national sovereignty. “Free Trade” is really about giving multinational corporations a free lunch to usurp the power of sovereign governments.

TPP has opponents from across the ideological spectrum. Some politicians on both sides of the aisle, in a rare demonstration of bipartisan zeal that should give all citizens pause to wonder, argue that this trade deal is needed to counter the economic/national security threat from China. This might be a cogent rationale if the economic health of our country were based solely on GNP, but one has to ask who the actual beneficiaries of such a trade deal are. I can tell you: Big Agriculture, Big Pharma and Wall Street, all sectors that reward the few at the expense of the many. It’s no surprise which legislators receive large campaign contributions from these economic sectors.

The TPP is the crown jewel in the attempt of multinational corporations, with allegiance only to profits, to establish global monopolies. Please contact your legislators, especially Rep. Greg Walden and Sen. Ron Wyden, a main proponent of the TPP and chairman of the Subcommittee on International Trade, and tell them you will vote against anyone who does not oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Andy Seles is a retired teacher who lives in Ashland.