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.

James Faulkner
Statesman Journal

I take exception to the May 6 Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel editorial excerpt reprinted on May 13.

This so-called "birthright citizenship" was not in the Constitution until July 9, 1868, by way of Section 1 of the XIV Amendment. This was three years after the XIII Amendment, which abolished slavery, and this section had a different intended purpose.

It seems reasonable that a person born here should automatically be a U.S. citizen only if at least one of their parents is a citizen.

I believe that the U.S. has had immigration quotas throughout our history. Most immigrants in the past had to travel here by ship, not just walk across a porous border.

Why do some people not understand the definition of "illegal"?

James Faulkner


Richard F. LaMountain

Six months ago, via the Measure 88 referendum, Oregon voters delivered a clear mandate: Foreigners here illegally shall not have driving privileges in our state. Now, newly installed Gov. Kate Brown must defend that mandate — even if courts ultimately uphold President Obama’s executive action offering work permits and deferred deportation to some 4 million illegal immigrants.

Here’s how the story has unfolded:

In spring 2013, the Legislature passed and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833, which enabled illegal immigrants to apply for four-year driver cards. Immediately, a group of citizens led by Oregonians for Immigration Reform launched an effort to refer SB 833 to the next general-election ballot.

By October 2013, OFIR had achieved its goal, securing the requisite 58,000-plus signatures of registered Oregon voters. A little more than a year later, Oregonians validated OFIR’s campaign and rejected illegal-immigrant driver cards by a 983,576-to-506,751 — or nearly 2-1 — margin.

Days after the election, however, Obama’s executive action opened the door for states to offer driving privileges to many illegal immigrants. “The threshold for [driving privileges in] most states,” notes Tanya Broder of the National Immigration Law Center, “is lawful or authorized presence in the United States, and usually one of the documents that states accept is a work authorization document” — which Obama’s action would provide its beneficiaries.

In February, however, shortly before it was scheduled to take effect, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen enjoined Obama’s action. Immediately, the administration appealed Hanen’s injunction to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court. If that court affirms the injunction — and is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — Oregon voters’ mandate against illegal-immigrant driving privileges will stand. But if either of the higher courts overturns the injunction, Brown will be empowered to offer those privileges to illegal immigrants in Oregon affected by Obama’s action — who, the Migration Policy Institute estimates, may number 64,000.

Forty-five states, reports the Federation for American Immigration Reform, accept federally issued work permits as proof of lawful presence. In those states, however, citizens have not had the chance to vote directly on illegal-immigrant driving privileges. In Oregon, via Measure 88, they have — and have said, overwhelmingly, no. It is only right that the citizens’ judgment — not a dubious “lawful presence” conferred by the executive fiat of one man — guide official Oregon policy on driving and illegal immigrants.

Brown, state Senate president Peter Courtney told The Oregonian newspaper recently, is “a statewide elected official. She thinks statewide, and she’s capable of understanding the whole state.” If so, she’s capable of understanding this: Last November, the state voted to deny driving privileges to illegal immigrants. Oregonians should contact Brown (oregon.gov/gov/Pages/share-your-opinion.aspx) and urge her to announce that, no matter what courts decide about Obama’s executive action, she will defend that mandate and, in doing so, prove her respect for the will of the people she is sworn to serve.

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 overturned the 2013 state law granting driver cards to illegal immigrants.

Deroy Murdock
National Review

Does Obama have it out for his countrymen, or does he simply not give a damn about his fellow Americans? This inescapable question occurs in light of his release of 66,565 convicted illegal-alien criminals over the past two years. Rather than deport these often-violent lawbreakers to their homelands, Obama sets them loose on U.S. streets.

According to data that Immigration and Customs Enforcement delivered to the House Judiciary Committee last month, ICE released 30,558 illegal-alien criminals from federal custody into the general population in fiscal year 2014. To use more-sensitive language, these undocumented crime workers collectively were responsible for 79,059 convictions. These included 13,636 convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, 1,346 for domestic violence, 1,194 for battery, 373 for sexual assault, 186 for kidnapping, and 86 for homicide.

This outrage followed an even larger, lawful lawful jailbreak in fiscal year 2013, when Obama freed 36,007 illegal-alien thugs. They jointly shared 87,818 convictions. Among them: 15,635 for drunk driving, 1,317 for domestic violence, 1,267 for battery, 426 for sexual assault, 303 for kidnapping, and 193 for homicide.

Moreover, federal facilities for holding illegal-alien hoodlums are barely three-quarters full. Thanks, in part, to Obama’s unconstitutional decrees on immigration last November, “the average daily population [ADP] of aliens in detention facilities has declined to approximately 26,000 beds,” U.S. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) said at an April 14 hearing. “This has occurred despite a mandate in law that requires ICE to maintain a 34,000 ADP in detention facilities.”

“The nonsensical actions of this administration demonstrate its lack of desire to enforce the law, even against unlawful aliens convicted of serious crimes,” Representative Bob Goodlatte observed.

“Whereas some ICE offices once processed as many as 100 illegal aliens a day for removal,” reports Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, “now these same offices often process fewer than five per day, with the same staff.” So, law-abiding Americans are in jeopardy of being hurt or killed by convicts who should be booted from this country. Meanwhile, taxpayers suffer as the same number of ICE staffers get paid for handling one-20th of their previous deportation workload. As usual, Team Obama blames others for this fiasco. They point to Zadvydas v. Davis, a Supreme Court decision that requires release from custody for aliens whose deportation proceedings are scheduled for no time soon, whose home countries will not take them back, or both. “However,” as Goodlatte explained, “the total number of convicted criminal aliens released based on the Zadvydas decision totaled 2,457 in fiscal year 2014, representing only 8 percent of the releases.” Obama owns the other 92 percent of these illegal-alien criminal releases and whatever consequences they trigger.

The ugliness already has begun.

- Among the 36,007 illegal-alien convicts released in 2013, 5,708 of them (16 percent) had been rearrested and 1,000 re-convicted on other offenses, as of last September.

- Illegal alien Apolinar Altamirano was in ICE custody after being convicted for a gang-related felony burglary. Regardless, ICE freed him in 2013, pending a deportation hearing to which he was expected to self-report. Altamirano now is locked up again on suspicion of murdering Grant Ronnebeck, a 21-year-old Mesa, Ariz., convenience-store clerk.

- Despite a record of gang membership and drug arrests, Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez received amnesty under Obama’s 2012 decree that benefits “Dreamers” brought unlawfully to America as children by their illegal-alien parents. Rather than deportation, Rangel-Hernandez received two years of legal status and a work permit, the Washington Times reports. He blew it and is behind bars. Police say he fatally shot four people in North Carolina, including Top Model TV-show contestant Mirjana Puhar.

“When aliens released onto the streets go on to commit additional crimes, yet could have been placed in ICE custody, this administration is responsible,” argued Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Evidently exasperated, Representative Goodlatte observed, “The nonsensical actions of this administration demonstrate its lack of desire to enforce the law, even against unlawful aliens convicted of serious crimes.” All of this confirms the negligent — if not malevolent — unseriousness that defines Obama.

Arizona officials say that Apolinar Altamirano, a convicted illegal-alien criminal released by Obama in lieu of deportation, fatally shot convenience-store clerk Grant Ronnebeck (right).

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Richard F. LaMountain

Last November, via the Measure 88 referendum, Oregonians overturned the 2013 state law that offered driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. The magnitude of that rejection — the margin was almost two-to-one — made it clear: the vote transcended the issue of driver’s licenses to constitute a general mandate against state government policies that offer benefits to illegal immigrants and encourage them to settle in Oregon.

It is a mandate, however, that some legislators are determined to ignore.

Last month, the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee passed Senate Bill 932, which would offer taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant scholarships to illegal immigrants who have graduated from the state’s high schools. The bill builds upon the 2013 state law that granted those illegal immigrants in-state tuition to Oregon’s public universities. Currently, SB 932 is before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

SB 932’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), argues that the students the bill would aid — people who entered the United States illegally as minors, often brought by one or more parents — “are Oregonians like everyone else.” But he’s wrong. The circumstances of those youths’ arrival do not make them Oregonians; they still are citizens of other nations here in violation of federal immigration law.

Oregon Opportunity grant applicants are available to limited-income Americans and legal residents who often are the first in their families to seek education beyond high school. Is it right to force them to compete with illegal immigrants for a finite number of taxpayer-funded scholarships? Whatever sympathy Dembrow and his allies have for young illegal immigrants, they should understand this: Our nation does those youths no wrong when it devotes itself first and foremost to the interests of citizens and legal residents.

As well as contradicting Oregonians’ ballot-box rejection of benefits for illegal immigrants, SB 932 frustrates their will in another way: Dembrow has saddled the bill with an emergency clause which would expedite its enactment into law, and in so doing, shield it from a referendum challenge. Dembrow told the Eugene Register Guard newspaper that the clause is needed so that illegal immigrant “students (may) access opportunity grants in the coming school year.”

One way Webster’s defines “emergency” is “an urgent need for assistance or relief.” But what is “urgent” about providing taxpayer-funded scholarships to people in our nation illegally? The real crisis is that legislators may pass SB 932 with a clause that will deny Oregonians their constitutional right to try and overturn it via referendum.

Lawmakers should heed last November’s clear mandate against benefits for illegal immigrants and reject Senate Bill 932. If they will not, however, before passing it they should have the courage — and the respect for those who elect them — to remove its emergency clause and allow Oregonians to seek to refer it, if they wish, to a vote of their fellow citizens.

Richard F. LaMountain of Cedar Mill served as a chief petitioner in the 2014 referendum that overturned the 2013 state law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.)

Regarding your editorials “Scott Walker’s Labor Economics” (April 25) and “The Sessions Complaint” (April 27): You criticize Gov. Scott Walker for his important statement that immigration policy must be focused on “protecting American workers and American wages.”

To support your belief that American workers should receive no protections, you recycle the myth that there is a shortage of qualified Americans to fill jobs in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—and then demand more guest workers as substitutes. Your evidence for this claim is that the government “received a record 233,000 requests from American business for the 85,000 H-1B visas available.” But the only thing this statistic proves is that companies prefer low-wage, bonded guest workers over higher-paid Americans.

Each year, the U.S. graduates twice as many students with STEM degrees as are hired in STEM occupations. Contrary to the suggestion that these students are finding better, higher-paying jobs, the opposite is true. About 35% of science students, 55% of technology students, 20% of engineering students and 30% of math students who recently graduated are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree. As further proof of no shortage, wages in the profitable IT industry have been largely flat for more than a decade.

Yet despite the enormous supply of job-seeking Americans, two-thirds of entry-level hires in the tech industry are now going to foreign workers.

That is because the H-1B visa is not a high-skilled immigration program. It operates as a low-wage nonimmigrant temporary visa, undercutting the jobs and wages of highly qualified Americans. Just recently, Southern California Edison laid off hundreds of loyal employees and forced them to train the H-1B guest workers hired to replace them. One of those replaced American workers was a mother with a physical disability caring for two children.

America is a country, not a spreadsheet. A country puts the needs of its own citizens first.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.)

Chairman Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest


Elizabeth Van Staaveren

A bill that would help Oregon’s unemployed and underemployed citizens directly and at little cost to the state is languishing because House leadership will not allow a hearing on it.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) and Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem), it is HB 2043, calling for employers to verify the legal status of new hires, by using the federal E-Verify program prior to deducting expenses related to the worker’s employment from Oregon taxable income.

Citizens should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Whose interests should come first with legislators — citizens or illegal aliens?

One has to wonder why the Democratic Party, so long considered the champion of average American workers, today appears instead to have more sympathy and concern for illegal alien workers.

The widespread hiring of illegal aliens has caused wage depression across the board, in construction work and many other occupations.

Some media report that prosperity is nearly here, and downplay persistent unemployment among citizens and the problems of those with jobs who are paid so poorly that many need public assistance to supplement their wages. Unemployment is especially serious among the young, blacks, the less educated, and veterans. Many college graduates have to seek work of any kind, related or unrelated to their education.

E-Verify is a federal program in operation successfully on a voluntary basis for more than 10 years. It enables employers to verify, at no cost to them, that their new hires are legally entitled to work in this country. The program enjoys a high approval rating from participants.

As of April 1, 2014, more than 3,400 Oregon employers, each with five or more employees, have enrolled in the program. These employers can post a logo for customers to see, attesting to participation in the E-Verify program, and many do post this logo. There are probably, in fact, many more than 3,400 Oregon employers now using E-Verify because employers with fewer than five employees are not included in the publicly searchable database maintained by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Present law limits E-Verify to verification of new hires only, so some participating employers may still have some employees without legal status who were hired prior to the employer’s enrollment.

Recently E-Verify added an option enabling citizens to test their Social Security number in the E-Verify program to confirm accuracy — thus anyone can make certain in advance that one’s standing as a legal worker is intact.

Claims that E-Verify isn’t ready for expansion or isn’t sufficiently accurate are incorrect and usually made by those who oppose any effective impediments to illegal immigration. With its many years of experience and approval from enrolled employers, E-Verify is an invaluable protection for American workers.

Democratic and Republican legislators and Oregon voters, take notice, please! Four bills have been introduced in the Oregon Legislature this year calling for use of E-Verify in Oregon. Three limit the application to state agencies and contractors of state agencies. Of the four bills, HB 2043 offers the greatest benefit to job-seeking Oregon citizens because it applies to all Oregon employers.

This is an easy, much-needed step to reverse the growing use of illegal labor, a trend that leads to open borders, an end to nationhood and citizenship. Oregonians and other U.S. citizens do not want that. Legislators and voters, time is slipping by — hear HB 2043 now, and pass this bill.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren, of McMinnville, is a longtime member of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She previously lived in the Washington, D.C., area, where she was employed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Statesman Journal

A bill that would help Oregon's unemployed and underemployed citizens directly is languishing because House leadership will not allow a hearing on it.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, and Rep. Jodi Hack, R-Salem, it is House Bill 2043, calling for employers to verify the legal status of new hires, by using the free federal E-Verify program prior to deducting expenses related to the worker's employment from Oregon taxable income.

Citizens should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Whose interests should come first with legislators – citizens or illegal aliens?

E-Verify has been operating successfully on a voluntary basis for over 10 years. It enables employers to verify that their new hires are legally entitled to work in this country. Currently, over 3,400 Oregon employers with five or more employees have enrolled in the program, and it enjoys a high approval rating from participants.

Recently E-Verify added an option enabling citizens to test their Social Security number in the E-Verify program to confirm accuracy – thus anyone can make certain in advance that one's standing as a legal worker is intact.

If legislators sincerely want to help jobless citizens, they should hear HB 2043 and pass this bill.


Cindy Land
The Register Guard

Jorge Navarro was particularly hateful in his April 8 guest viewpoint, “Jan Brewer, peddler of divisiveness, crosses line.” Former Arizona Governor Brewer came to Eugene to discuss important topics affecting all Americans, including members of the Lane County Republican Party. Rational people were exercising their First Amendment rights. There was no need for hostility and bullying.

The Lane County Republican Party was honored to have keynote speaker Brewer during our annual Lincoln Day Dinner. It was a sold-out event and a great party!

The Lane County Republican Party is here to find, develop and support people who will provide public policy for better jobs, better educational opportunities and better individual freedom for all Oregonians.

Gov. Brewer’s political courage is well-documented, and her perspective was interesting. She is a strong leader who supports our constitutional civil rights — especially the first 10 amendments, which serve to limit the overreach of big government and protect our individual freedoms. It is important to listen and learn from other leaders to build future success in Oregon.

One of her topics was her experience with the issue of immigration. The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of warmth and security, welcoming immigrants to the United States. People come to America looking for better lives, opportunities and freedom as they pursue happiness, which happens to be one our party’s goals in public policy. They sacrifice everything that is familiar to work for a better life for themselves and their families. They deserve our respect.

Drawn by the opportunities created by our constitutionally guaranteed individual freedom, legal immigrants are an investment in our nation’s collective future. They’re not coming for a handful of government crumbs. Supporting the brave people who waited in line, followed the law and passed the citizenship test is the right way to begin the American dream, regardless of country of origin.

Arizona is rich with blended cultures unique to the southwestern United States. “Everyone admits that the federal immigration system is broken,” said Navarro in his column, and Brewer agreed — she discussed the broken system, with California, Texas and New Mexico having their borders defended, but not Arizona, because of its federal lands, nearly 100 miles deep, being left open by the federal government, porous and undefended.

It is a dangerous problem. The feds put up warning signs advertising the danger, but continue to stiff-arm practical solutions. Brewer believes securing the border in Arizona is an issue of public safety and states’ rights. Senate Bill 1070, which Navarro criticized so strongly, simply provided enforcement of the federal 1996 Immigration Act passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. Brewer’s attempts to invoke states’ rights to keep Arizonians safe were vilified, leaving the people who live there at serious risk. Supporting legal immigration is the right thing to do. Reforming the current system is urgently needed, starting with securing our borders.

While Brewer was working to protect the citizens of Arizona, the Oregon Legislature passed a driver’s card law that was referred to voters by petition as Measure 88. Many people, fearful of being called the names Navarro used in his column, did not openly participate, and candidates refused to answer questions. Grass-roots groups like Oregonians for Immigration Reform took up the effort. In a state where we can barely agree on the time of day, Oregonians overwhelmingly voted no on Measure 88. Nearly 66 percent of voters voted to respect the law.

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano left Arizona in turmoil when she escaped to Washington, D.C., to become head of the Department of Homeland Security. Brewer took over in Arizona as it was floundering. She led the effort to cut state spending to $8 billion a year from $11.5 billion. She rebalanced Medicaid in Arizona, expanding it to include the less fortunate with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Brewer defended her support for Obamacare, calling it a “moral issue” when it was certainly not popular to do so with Republicans. Brewer is a member of the National Rifle Association and strong advocate of constitutional Second Amendment rights, but she vetoed a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses. She supported her state’s version of national standards to ensure that children were getting an education for the global future. She supported equal rights for LGBT communities, stopping Senate Bill 1062 with her veto — a proposal that would have allowed business owners to refuse services based on sexual orientation.

Oregon deserves leaders with political courage. The Lane County Republican Party was proud to listen to Gov. Brewer as our guest as we continue to stand up here at home for better jobs, better educational opportunities and better individual freedom for all Oregonians.

Cindy Land is chairwoman of the Lane County Republican Central Committee.

Jerry Ritter
The Register Guard

Oregon’s Democratic legislators learned two important lessons from the November 2014 election — one they’ve ignored, and the other they’ve taken to heart.

Lesson No. 1, from the defeat of Measure 88 (driver cards), was they’re badly out of touch with the electorate on government assistance for illegal immigrants.

Lesson No. 2 was that neither that, nor the astounding arrogance of their misguided and failed attempt to change the Measure 88 ballot title, matters. Oregon has swung so far to the left politically their jobs are secure.

Accordingly, the introduction of Senate Bill 932 (state-funded scholarships for illegal immigrants) was predictable. Also predictable was the addition of an “emergency” clause, an all-too-common abuse, to prevent it from being referred to the voters. Illegal immigrants and their supporters can rest assured that as long as Democrats rule the state, SB 932 won’t be the last effort on their behalf.

Mark Krikorian

Democratic amnesty-pushers, and their Republican collaborators, keep telling us how popular “comprehensive immigration reform” is. But the actions of those same politicians suggest they don’t believe their own press releases.

For instance, 181 House Democrats signed on to an amicus brief defending the administration’s right to unilaterally amnesty millions of illegal aliens. So far, so good. But what about the others? “The 12 Democrats who left their names off are mostly centrists and members who will face tough reelection races next year.” But if amnesty’s so popular, why wouldn’t these vulnerable Democrats campaign on their support for it?

Then there’s Oregon. You’ll recall that in November the voters there overwhelmingly voted down a measure passed by the legislature to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (Lest you think they’re right-wingers, in the same election they legalized pot and reelected their crooked Democratic governor, who has since resigned.) The reason the citizenry was able to kill the license bill is that the open-borders crowd forgot to include an “emergency clause” in the bill, which would have allowed it to go into effect immediately.

As you can imagine, the anti-borders crowd isn’t going to make that mistake again. So in their latest effort at helping illegal aliens — a bill that would give taxpayer-funded scholarships to illegal-alien students at state universities — they’ve inserted that crucial emergency clause. The only “emergency” is that voters might be given an opportunity to stop this latest giveaway of their money to intruders.

A new Rasmussen poll suggests that amnesty-pushers’ fear of letting voters express their thoughts on immigration at the ballot box is well-founded. Yes, you can ask questions in any number of ways and, yes, Americans are ambivalent about the issue. But when you ask the same question over time you get a sense of trends, and these don’t look good for the anti-borders crowd. Sixty-two percent of likely voters said the government is ”not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally,” up from 56 percent in November and 52 percent one year ago. When asked, “Should illegal immigrants who have American-born children be exempt from deportation?” 51 percent said no, up from 42 percent in November. Also, 54 percent oppose automatic citizenship for children born to illegals, and 83 percent said people should prove legal status before receiving welfare.

Mencken wrote that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” If only.