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.

Michael F. Burt
The World

I am all for eliminating needless paperwork but I am having trouble with this new law that was just passed by the Senate. "Automatically enrolling residents with driver's license records into the state's voter rolls."

How do they plan to distinguish between citizen and non-citizen? Their are thousand of resident aliens out there with drivers licenses, but they are non-citizens and can't vote. Right?

Oregonians, something is fishy here. When phrases like, "I care that they vote, and you should, too" and "removing technical barriers for voters," another phrase for eliminating the U.S. citizenship as a requirement to vote. You know what this means, right?

James B. Faulkner
Statesman Journal

In the discussions about immigration, I see no mention of Section 1 of Amendment XIV to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen. Consequently, we have the situation of legal children of illegal parents.

This amendment was passed three years after the one to free the slaves and had a different intent.

A new amendment should provide that to be a natural-born citizen, a child should have at least one parent who is a citizen of the U.S.

Why is this not being included in any immigration reform?

Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Statesman Journal, Salem
Rep. Kurt Schrader's speech to Causa advocating open borders was an insult to U.S. citizens.
He spoke at Chemeketa Community College in Salem on Feb. 21, saying that the current debate on immigration policy is "the civil rights battle for the younger generation," likening it to the campaign by blacks for civil rights 50 years ago, and overlooking the fact that blacks were citizens – they were not illegally in this country.
He told the group that illegal immigrants have rights that are being denied to them. Thus he reveals his belief that immigration to the U.S. is a universal civil right that should be freely available to anyone in the world, without limits, and without any input from current citizens on the subject.
"Immigration reform is probably the biggest issue of the 21st century," he was quoted as saying. "It will decide who is in charge of this country for the next 20 or 30 years."
Honest polls show that U.S. citizens don't approve of President Obama's amnesty plans. Nor did voters in Rep. Schrader's district approve of driver licenses for illegal aliens here. They vetoed the proposal overwhelmingly in the November 2014 election.
Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Cynthia Kendoll
Statesman Journal

In the 2015 Oregon Legislature, Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, has introduced Senate Bill 104.

If approved, the bill will require that all state agencies use the federal E-Verify program to ensure their newly hired employees are U.S. citizens or legal residents. SB104 has been referred to the Senate Workforce Committee, which should report it to the chamber’s floor immediately.

E-Verify, run jointly by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration, is free to employers and easy to use. It enables an employer to go online, enter the name and Social Security number provided by a new hire and determine — in the vast majority of cases, almost instantly — whether that hire is eligible to work in the United States. In Oregon, 17 county governments and more than 3,200 businesses use E-Verify.

Why should Oregon’s elected leaders enact SB104 and mandate E-Verify’s use by state agencies?

First: SB104 would help ensure our state government complies with the federal law prohibiting employment of illegal immigrants. This would be no mere symbolism; respect for law begins with government itself. At a time when many state and local governments — and even the president of the United States — actively undermine federal immigration statutes, passing SB104 would help place Oregon firmly on the side of law, order and accountability.

Second: The bill’s adoption would tell Oregonians, “Your state government will strive to ensure your hard-earned tax dollars pay the salaries of U.S. citizens or legal residents, and not the salaries of people here illegally.” This would be a profound and welcome message to the Oregon taxpayers still drained by the recent recession.

And last: By going the extra mile, says Sen. Thatcher, to use “tools which offer a better chance of hiring people who are in our country legally,” the state of Oregon would “lead by example.”

Such leadership could have a far-reaching impact. Today, some 130,000 Oregonians are unemployed. Close to an equal number want full-time work but can find only part-time work, or have become so discouraged they’ve stopped looking for work altogether.

Yet, according to studies by the Pew Hispanic Center and Federation for American Immigration Reform, between 97,000 and 120,000 illegal immigrants recently have held jobs in our state. If SB104’s adoption were to induce a good number of private businesses to begin using E-Verify themselves, it could prove critical, in the future, to putting many unemployed and underemployed citizens into jobs currently held by illegal immigrants. As well, it may help to discourage further illegal immigration to Oregon and to prompt illegal immigrants already here to leave.

SB104 would manifest respect for law. It would help ensure responsible stewardship of Oregonians’ tax monies. And it would provide an example, if emulated by private businesses, that could re-employ many jobless citizens. Oregonians should tell members of the Senate Workforce Committee – and their own state legislators – to support SB104.

Cynthia Kendoll of Salem is president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She can be reached at ofir@oregonir.org.

Lyneil Vandermolen
East Oregonian

Both Oregon senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are eager to force Americans to pay the costs of the president’s illegal amnesty. This despite the fact federal judge Andrew Hanen just agreed that Obama’s amnesty fiat is illegal.

Congress can most easily block the amnesty by refusing to pay for the bureaucratic processing of millions of new applicants. But both Wyden and Merkley have repeatedly voted against bringing up HR 240, the amnesty defunding bill that recently passed the House. Both of them want the initial five million new applicants to be able to legally compete against entry-level citizens while Obama adds another 30 million work permits in increments.

At that point, we won’t have a recognizable country anymore. Americans will have lost our voice in favor of a chaotic avalanche of low-skilled Third World poor. How will that improve the lives of the Americans Wyden and Merkley pretend to represent?

Fred J. Schuster
The Register Guard

Regarding Dennis Lees’ Jan. 2 column, “Try to view immigration through others’ eyes”: before we become too misty-eyed over the plight of our southern neighbors, let’s consider some facts.

The man who occupies our Oval Office illegally and pushes for mass amnesty for illegal immigrants doesn’t care about their futures or their interactions with legal citizens.

His motivation is strictly politically impelled to favor Democrats seeking election in 2016. That’s political chicanery.

About 5 million illegal immigrants have been favored so far, but a wise Arizona sheriff predicts the number will easily more than double when the floodgates are opened.

Apparently there are no plans to vet the illegals for communicable diseases, criminal pasts, language capability, occupational desirability or other requirements.

That’s a slap in the face to my immigrant father’s and my wife’s families. Yes, our citizenship requirements have traditionally been extremely strict; many haven’t been able to qualify.

Our stringent immigration laws are simply a reflection of our forefathers’ wishes. Those who criticize them as being too stringent need only examine Mexico’s laws to appreciate our own.

Since the illegal immigrants have already knowingly violated a cardinal U.S. law, can we expect them to respect our other laws? That question’s too often overlooked in immigration discussions.


Jack Martin

Portland has attracted national attention for its efforts to limit urban sprawl. It is noteworthy to find a mindset that bigger is not necessarily better. However, that effort has been less than successful...

Is that the cost to be paid for being attractive? Some natural population increase comes from more births than deaths.... 

...other source of population growth is identified by the Census Bureau as Net International Migration (NIM). That is the surplus of immigrants plus U.S citizens moving home from abroad minus U.S. residents moving out of the country – mostly immigration. During the 1990s, NIM accounted for 14 percent of Portland's population increase and about 23 percent the following decade.

Actually, the population impact of immigration is larger than those numbers indicate. That is because the immigrant population has a much larger share in their child-bearing years and they often come from cultures that embrace large families.....jumps to about one-fourth of the increase in the 1990s and to about two-fifths in the next decade.

... Immigration policy is discretionary, and it can be decreased or increased by policymakers. A major increase was set in motion by legislation in 1965 and further increased in 1990. As a result the country has the largest flow of legal immigrants ever with more than one million admitted every year ... leaving aside the issue of those who should be prevented from coming illegally. Clearly this immigrant flow could be reduced...

Unfortunately, there is a concerted effort to increase the immigration flow still further...

Underrepresented in this dynamic is the average American who does not relish more competition for jobs and housing or more claims on already overstretched educational and social welfare resources.

Portlanders' only say in the issue of whether national policymakers increase or decrease the growing population pressure due to immigration is through expressing their view to their elected representatives.

Jack Martin, who was born and raised in Portland, is a retired diplomat who joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1995.


Richard F. LaMountain

In Oregon’s political order, do state lawmakers recognize the people’s primacy — or game the system to impose their own?

Oregon’s constitution guarantees its citizens the right of referendum, to put laws passed by their Legislature to a public vote. In recent years, however, lawmakers have routinely saddled many laws with an “emergency clause,” which shields those laws from a referendum challenge and thereby nullifies the referendum right.

In the legislative session beginning Feb. 2, voters should demand an end to this cynical, undemocratic practice.

“No act shall take effect,” stipulates Oregon’s constitution, “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.”

Why the wait? The main reason, writes Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, “is to provide adequate time for the public to gather sufficient signatures on petitions to refer a measure for the people to decide.”

How does that process work? Within 90 days of a legislative session’s end, citizens who wish to refer a new law must collect signatures of registered voters numbering at least 4 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. If they do, the law is suspended and Oregonians determine its fate at a future election, which is usually the next general election.

But back to that constitutional exception, the phrase “in case of emergency.” That empowers lawmakers, via an emergency clause, to declare a law so urgent that it must take effect earlier than the usual 90-plus days. If they do, Oregonians cannot seek to refer the law.

Webster’s defines “emergency” as “an urgent need for assistance or relief.” In recent sessions, however, emergency clauses have been attached to bills that even the wildest imaginations could not construe as addressing true emergencies. Examples include: bills to allow unionization of workplaces via “check-off cards” (2007); to credential undocumented immigrants for in-state university tuition (2013); and even to replace the U.S. Capitol statue of Oregon pioneer Jason Lee with one of the late U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (2014).

How prevalent has been the recent use of the emergency clause? “Seventy-one percent of the bills enacted into law during the 2012 session,” writes Whitsett, “had an emergency clause attached that [made] them effective immediately upon their passage.” The clause’s frequent intent? Whitsett contends: “To block the constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to refer the new law.”

Would legislators actually employ the emergency clause to such cynical end?

Consider Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, a supporter of the undocumented immigrant driver card law passed by the Legislature in May 2013 that was referred to and overturned by voters in last November’s election. Last March, Johnson told The Oregonian that if voters rejected the law, then (in the newspaper’s words) “lawmakers could pass the same bill next session” and add “an emergency clause to allow the law to go into effect immediately.”

How to end such misuse of the emergency clause? Oregonians should pressure legislators to do this: Introduce for voters’ approval a constitutional amendment that requires any bill containing an emergency clause to receive two-thirds of the votes of the House and Senate to pass, and until its enactment, pledge to oppose any bill containing such clause unless, in their judgment, it addresses a true emergency.

When used for the intent of thwarting potential referenda, the emergency clause perverts the relationship between Oregonians and the legislators they elect to represent them. We need to restore that clause to its proper, limited role in lawmaking — and the voice of the citizen, as manifested in the referendum, to its paramount place in Oregon’s representative democracy.

Richard F. LaMountain, a Cedar Mill resident, served as a chief petitioner of the 2014 initiative, Measure 88, via which Oregon voters overturned the 2013 state law granting driver cards to undocumented immigrants.

Jerry Ritter
The Register Guard

In the Jan. 18 article “Stalled wages stump experts,” the authors listed a variety of factors depressing U.S. workers’ wages, but there was not one word about a major culprit. I’ll let another “expert” explain:

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen for over a century and threatens to further depress the wages of blue-collar Americans.”

So said Barack Obama in 2006, before he became president. Like so many other of his past pronouncements, he’s done a complete 180-degree turn with his recent massive amnesty-by-decree.

His 2006 warning is borne out by recent U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. As of November 2014, there were still 1.7 million fewer native-born workers employed than in 2007. But 2 million immigrants, legal and illegal, were added to the workforce in the same period.

I can’t blame anyone for wanting a better life, but the U.S. can no longer open its borders to the world’s dispossessed and downtrodden without major consequences. The president, most of the Oregon congressional delegation, business lobbies and unions (yes, unions) have thrown American workers under the bus with their ongoing drive to bring more immigrant labor to the United States.

As long as American workers and voters refuse to hold those perpetrators accountable, nothing will change.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren

Why do people who write on economics and the labor market, such as Tim Nesbitt ("Will new minimum wage laws overcome stagnation?" Jan. 2) overlook excessive immigration as a factor in stagnant and falling wages? He and the authors of the University of Oregon study described in "Aid to low-wage workers costs $1.7B a year," (Jan. 9) appear to be unaware of the effects of large-volume immigration on citizen workers.

An increase in the number of workers leads to lower wages — that's a basic economic theory clearly observable in real life...

Here in the U.S., employers can now hire illegal workers with impunity. Corporations use visas to legally bring in thousands of professional workers, claiming special expertise when these workers are less competent than the displaced citizens...

Many unemployed computer professionals who are citizens tell sad stories of being required to train their foreign replacements ...

The situation for less-educated citizens who seek work in unskilled occupations is desperate. An African American caller to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" recently expressed his frustration with the displacement of young blacks by illegal immigrant workers: "This is completely destroying the black community," he said.

The AFL-CIO is an empty shell compared to what it used to be in the days when it actually cared about the welfare of the average American worker. Now they and other unions have abandoned citizens for an international-workers-of-the-world approach...

Oregon's congressional delegation has a poor record on this subject. Anyone can view their grades online, ...

If current rates of immigration continue, 127 million more people will be added to the population by 2050....

Immigration policy affects nearly every aspect of life in the U.S. At present, it is the main trigger of population growth. Population size is a vital factor in preserving a healthy natural environment, and the current volume of immigration affects the level of wages possibly more than any other factor.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren, of McMinnville, is a longtime member of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.