Letters and Op-Eds

By:
Frederick Allen Waring
Statesman Journal
2015-06-26

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.

 

By:
Lyneil Vandermolen
East Oregonian
2015-06-24

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

Tualatin
 

By:
Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Statesman Journal
2015-06-23

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

McMinnville
 

By:
Lyneil Vandermolen
Statesman Journal
2015-06-22

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.

By:
David Olen Cross
Statesman Journal
2015-06-18

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.

By:
Andy Seles
Mail Tribune
2015-06-14


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.
 

By:
SHELLEY PINEO-JENSEN
The Register Guard
2015-06-14

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps elected representatives who favor the Trans-Pacific Partnership have good intentions, but I doubt it — it’s more likely that the bobsled to hell is paved with influence peddling. The TPP will cede national, state and local control of environmental and labor regulations to transnational corporations.

An International Business Times poll found that 62 percent of Americans opposed Trade Promotion Authority, or fast track — the legislative process that would grease the skids for congressional approval of the TPP — with 43 percent “strongly” opposing it. Eighty-five percent of moderate and conservative Republicans opposed fast track. One of the top concerns was that it’s unfair to expect U.S. workers to compete with a flood of imports made under conditions less costly to employers.

In response to widespread criticism of the secrecy surrounding the TPP, the trade deal will now be available to the public for two months before the president signs it. This claim that the TPP process is now transparent ironically sends the message that no matter what the American public thinks about the TPP, the president is going to sign it.

Key players who will benefit from the TPP include tobacco companies such as Philip Morris, fossil fuel companies such as Exxon, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, military-industrial profiteers such as Halliburton, makers of genetically modified organisms such as Monsanto, lobbyists such as the Business Roundtable, polluters such as PPG industries, agribusinesses such as Cargill, and companies that exploit workers such as Wal-Mart and Nike. These power players are spending a fortune to corrupt our public officials, and they are succeeding.

Oregon has two members of Congress who represent the people and not corporate masters. If you are still uncertain about the TPP, read Rep. Peter DeFazio’s column in the April 10 Register-­Guard, or watch the YouTube video of Sen. Jeff Merkley’s floor speech, in which he said, “The trade agreement would undermine U.S. sovereignty by allowing foreign countries to challenge American laws.” DeFazio and Merkley are joined by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in strongly opposing the TPP in its current form, as well as the fast track process. They are not lying, and they are not mistaken.

But Oregon’s members of Congress who support the TPP are not confused or uninformed. They are tools. They serve the interests of corporations instead of fighting for human beings and life on the planet.

Rep. Greg Walden supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and privatization of Social Security. He strongly opposes taxes on the wealthy, protections for clean air and water, and funding for green energy. It is no surprise he supports the TPP.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer was thought to be a strong environmentalist, but he mysteriously dropped his advocacy for the environment to follow Sen. Ron Wyden’s lead and support the TPP and fast track.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has increased her net worth by more than $2 million since her election to Congress in 2012, an annual increase of 52 percent. Her district is home to Nike, a key advocate of the TPP, which claims a global workforce of more than 800,000, of whom 6,625 are Oregonians — less than 1 percent. Nike extracted massive tax concessions from Oregon before it would agree to keep some of its operations in the state. Rep. Kurt Schrader supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, and reasoned that since the current version of the TPP is better than the older one, he will support it. He has fallen in step with Wyden.

And then there’s Wyden, whose estimated wealth in 2010 was $6.8 million, a 365 percent increase since 2004. He has received large campaign donations from Akin Gump, the lobbyist who successfully represented Monsanto in its U.S. Supreme Court seed patent case. Environmentalists, labor activists and community rights advocates have been petitioning Wyden for years to stop supporting the TPP. He isn’t listening; his true constituency lies elsewhere.

These legislators disingenuously point to improvements in the TPP to justify their support, instead of acknowledging the real dangers of the trade pact. First and foremost is the lack of transparency; the only reason we even know what is in it is because brave individuals have shared the documents with WikiLeaks. The leaked passages reveal a massive handover of national rights to corporations.

What can you do? Call, write, text or visit your representatives in Congress. We have the power to halt the voracious consumption of resources in the service of profit; there are more of us than there are of them. We can save our beautiful planet — or, more precisely, the biosphere that supports all life. At least it’s worth a try.

Shelly Pineo-Jensen, a retired public school teacher and union leader, blogs at drpj.weebly.com/tpp.

Environmentalists, labor activists and community rights advocates have been petitioning Wyden for years to stop supporting the TPP. He isn’t listening
 

By:
Wayne Mayo
submitted for publication
2015-06-08

A news report in the New York Times 4June.2015  revealed what is becoming a disturbing trend in big business today to fire loyal, hardworking employees and replace them with foreign workers.   The company in question is Disney and their Orlando, Florida operations.

From the article;  "... about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”  

The article goes on to chronicle the companie's promises of lateral moves within the company that didn't materialize to the threat of cutting off their severence if they didn't stay and train their replacement.  One who responded was 57 years old.  

Though many big businesses like Disney pretends to be loyal to their employees, it's now clear that even high profile companies fear no backlash from cutting American workers off from their life's work if they can save a few dollars.  

I'd ask; does it matter that loyal hardworking Americans are losing their jobs to legal and illegal immigrants who will turn and take advantage of our generous welfare state without shame ?

It does.  Think through your vacation plans this summer.

NOTE:  You might like to read this blog by John Miano, of the Center for Immigration Studies,   http://www.cis.org/miano/southern-california-edison-workers-just-more-h-1b-roadkill.  He has written several informative articles on the subject

 

By:
James Faulkner
Statesman Journal
2015-05-21

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

Salem
 

By:
Richard F. LaMountain
PortlandTribune
2015-05-14

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.
 

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