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.

Lyneil Vandermolen
Blue Mountain EAGLE

The U.S. has granted six amnesties since the big Simpson/Mazzoli amnesty of 1986. In each case, the federal government has refused to agree to future immigration enforcement without granting amnesty first. Then it ignores enforcement. By now, most citizens know that granting amnesties so that we can earn the right to enforce our laws later is like negotiating with burglars to get some of their stuff back — someday, maybe.

HB 4760 would change that. It ends the visa lottery and chain migration. It would build a wall and begin an e-verify program to turn off the job magnet. The bill would also reduce legal immigration to allow our entry-level citizens to get a first shot at jobs. It even legalizes 675,000 DACA recipients and their immediate families as a humanitarian gesture.

True to form, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden is ignoring it. His seven-term history is full of lip service for immigration reform as long as it doesn’t stand a chance of passing. But unless our government finally serves citizens first, it will only enshrine the precedent of mob rule. So, will Congressman Walden co-sponsor HB 4760?

Steve Weaser

Mayor Wheeler's shrill speech/rant in Washington, D.C., makes painfully obvious his disconnect from reality. He accuses the U.S. Department of Justice of doing precisely what the U.S. Constitution requires them and him, per his oath of office, to do. Mayor Wheeler said it is "unconstitutional" and "dangerous" (for whom?) for the federal government to enforce immigration laws in the face of half-baked "sanctuary" laws passed locally. Sanctuary laws reasonably result in an increased risk of crime committed by illegals.

From their first day in office, Mayor Wheeler and Portland city commissioners have violated their oaths of office and the city's charter by allowing homeless camping on Portland Parks property along with all the crime and environmental destruction they cause. They're standing on a "state of emergency," voted on but never proven to exist. Our angry-at-the-feds mayor and city council need to publish the exact criteria used to justify that vote so we, the people, can decide for ourselves if they get a pass on violating two constitutions and a city charter.

Al Phillips
The Bulletin

Oregon should obey the law

I read recently that the Department of Justice has included Oregon on the list of jurisdictions that the DOJ wants documentation regarding arrested illegal immigrants. A request by the way, that they have every right to demand. The fact that Oregon’s elected officials have allowed Oregon to be included in such a request is absolutely outrageous! And that Oregon, essentially, must now prove that it is not violating federal law is an embarrassment, or should be, to every man, woman and child in this state. What part of automatically enforcing federal law does Oregon’s elected officials not understand?

And, if in fact it becomes evident that Oregon has not followed federal law on this issue (which is what I’d bet will occur), by what stroke of genius gives them that right? And politicians in charge should be held personally accountable; which is exactly what would happen if you or I violate federal law.

This is one more of myriad indications in my view of decades of hollow and unrealistic and, in this case, potentially, if not actually, illegal positions being piled upon this state by liberal-minded people controlling our state’s government. If there ever was a serious time to “drain the swamp” here, borrowing a line from Trump, that time is now. Frankly, it’s long past that time.

Sharon McVay

A message from Gov. Kate Brown 2016: "I believe in a thriving Oregon; one that is resilient and sustains the well-being of current and future generations; where all Oregonians have opportunities to reach our full potential: We must continue our efforts to expand health insurance coverage until every Oregonian is covered."

Illegal aliens seem to prosper, not so much Oregonians. Oregon college students must provide their own health insurance. Illegal aliens do not. HB 3391 provides taxpayer-funded abortions to women who are living in the state illegally. The bill also provides funding for other health care services free of charge who are living in the state illegally.

Make this Democrat governor and her Democrat legislature work to come up with a genuine plan for taxpaying Oregonians for a change. $25 million of a new insurance premium tax will be borne by the K-12 public schools. Where do the cuts fall? Demand an answer.

Small businesses cannot keep up with the taxes and expenses imposed on them to cover the mistakes and poorly managed monies made by our governor. Her special interests love the profit put into their pockets for special favors upon demand. The governor passed new taxes benefiting campaign donors while taking $78 million in healthcare tax dollars from individuals, college students, small businesses, non-profits and public school (HB 2391; parts of which have been referred to Oregon voters as Measure 101).

Vote no on this measure. Do not keep funding this government's way of life at the cost of legal Oregon residents and their families. Read your Voters Pamphlet!

Tom Shuford
News Topic - North Carolina

In 2012 President Obama deferred immigration enforcement for illegal aliens claiming arrival before age 16. Obama's unconstitutional "executive action" is known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. By 2014 Central America had gotten the message. Unaccompanied minors began surging through Mexico over the U.S. border.

DACA expires in March. Democrats want a permanent amnesty for 800,000 DACA recipients. Trump wants a wall and tightened rules for legal immigration. President Trump (tweet, Dec. 29): "The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of immigration etc."  Let's look at Trump's demands:
THE WALL: Israel built impenetrable walls in recent years. One result is this headline in an Israeli newspaper on Jan. 1: "Steps to prevent illegal migrants from entering Israel 100% effective in 2017." Zero illegal entries are remarkable for a wealthy country in a poor region. Israelis took other protective actions, but walls are crucial.
CHAIN MIGRATION:  "For over 50 years, naturalized citizens have been able to petition for the immigration of parents, adult siblings, and adult sons and daughters, all of whom can bring their own spouses and children. When those spouses and children naturalize, they may, in turn, sponsor further relatives, and so on."  (Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies).
An immigrant should be able to sponsor only a spouse and minor children. Chain migration of extended families drives most legal immigration. Chain migration has shifted source countries for immigration from Europe to Latin America and Asia.
DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY: The U.S. selects by lottery 50,000 people annually from under-represented, often terror-prone countries. Then they bring relatives by chain migration.
Three terrorists in November and December incidents, Sayfullo Saipov and Akayed Ullah in New York City and Ahmed Amin El-Mofty in Pennsylvania, were "gifts" to America from the Congresses who voted for chain migration in 1965 and for the Diversity Lottery in 1990.
Unlike the tax reform bill, the Senate will need 60 votes for immigration legislation. At least nine Democrat senators will have to vote to slow huge annual inflows of future Democrat voters from chain migration and from the diversity lottery. The prospect of a DACA amnesty, a passionate cause for Democrats, might tempt a few Democrat senators to deal with Trump.
Timothy Reiser
Statesman Journal

One of the most basic duties of our government is to protect its citizens.

Cities and states that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants violate this duty, and politicians who support it for political gain are dangerous, naive, and grossly negligent.

Perhaps enlightened leaders like Gov. Kate Brown can explain how sanctuary zones promote safety and justice to the families of victims like Kate Steinle, the young woman  (allegedly) killedby an undocumented immigrant deported five times, yet protected by the city of San Francisco.

According to a recent report by the United States Sentencing Commission, “non-citizens” account for about 22 percent of all federal murder convictions and 72 percent of federal drug convictions, an appalling statistic, given that undocumented immigrants account for about 7 percent of the U.S. population.

As a society, we should have empathy for foreigners wanting a better life for themselves and their families and should provide a path to citizenship for those who can lawfully contribute.

But the reality is that we can’t accept everyone who applies for citizenship. And we shouldn’t. U.S. citizenship is not a human right; it is a privilege extended by our government.

And it is our responsibility to determine whom we welcome as fellow citizens.

Pete Ready
Albany Democrat-Herald

Equal Time 101: In a Nov. 17 letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Pat Allen documented the myriad ways in which the agency tasked with managing Oregon's $9.3 billion Medicaid program has wasted or misallocated taxpayer dollars.

Oregon overpaid $74 million in federal funds to “dual eligible” enrollees who were old enough to qualify for Medicare and poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, Mr. Allen wrote. The OHA also incorrectly enrolled an undisclosed number of unauthorized immigrants in Medicaid, rather than in the state’s less expansive emergency health care program, costing taxpayers $25.7 million in “payment errors and over-claimed federal funds.”

The Oregon Secretary of State’s audit, released Nov. 29, found that 41 percent of Medicaid enrollees in a backlog of 115,200 recipients were in fact ineligible for the benefits they received.

Would you invest your money in such a business? Does this inspire you with confidence? Does it make you want to be taxed more? What they have done with federal money they will do with yours if you give them a 101 “blank check." That is what Measure 101 will do to you. For starters, a “yes” on Measure 101 will assess (tax) “certain hospitals” 0.7 percent, add 1.5 percent assessment on the Public Employees Benefit Board, managed care organizations, and insurers. You also will pay for local government and school health cost increases due to the insurance assessments.

Measure 101 will tax you to mismanage their Oregon sanctuary state utopian health care dreams.

Vote no.

Gordon Challstrom
Mail Tribune, Medford

Homelessness is a problem across America. Recently, it was reported that 168,000 people were homeless on the West Coast. Nationally, homelessness according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the 2016 census ranges from 58 homeless per 100,000 in Mississippi to 437 per 100,000 in New York, with an average being about 125 per 100,000.

Looking at a map provided by the Center for Immigration Studies of sanctuary localities in America and comparing it with the homeless census, it becomes clear that sanctuary policies increase homelessness. Illegal aliens are drawn to sanctuary localities and compete with the educationally and economically disadvantaged U.S. citizens for the finite number of housing and jobs available.

Oregon, a sanctuary state, has the second highest rate of homelessness with 323 per 100,000, followed by California, a sanctuary state, in third with 301 per 100,000, and Washington, with Seattle and surrounding counties being sanctuary localities, in fifth with 286 per 100,000.

States and large metropolitan areas that adopt sanctuary status have more than double the average homeless populations compared to states that enforce federal immigration laws. It’s time we demand the rescinding of Oregon’s sanctuary status and put our most vulnerable citizens’ needs as a priority.

Richard F. LaMountain

PCC, a taxpayer-supported institution, has undermined the rule of law. It is voters' right and obligation to hold PCC to account.

In mid-October, area voters will receive ballots to approve or reject Portland Community College's $185-million bond request. Before voting, they should ask: Has PCC earned the trust to credibly solicit — let alone to deserve — more of our hard-earned money?

As one of the property owners who would foot PCC's tax bill, I say no. Over the past 18 months, the college has taken actions that subvert U.S. law; threaten public safety; and violate its moral, fiduciary and educational responsibilities to American students, taxpayers and the nation as a whole.

First: Late last year, PCC's elected board of directors declared the college a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Via this policy, the college will refuse U.S. immigration authorities information on any illegal-immigrant student "unless legally compelled."

Why did PCC's directors take this action? Had they exercised due diligence, they would have found their sanctuary policy violates federal law: 8 U.S. Code 1324 criminalizes all who, "knowing ... that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields" that alien from detection.

Worse still, the policy endangers public safety. What if, in a swiftly-developing case, PCC were to deny its help to law-enforcement authorities seeking the whereabouts of a criminal-alien enrollee? That refusal would give the subject more time to elude capture, commit further crimes — and, possibly, escape justice completely.

Second: Last month, PCC announced it had established a "Dream Center" on its Rock Creek campus to provide academic and legal help to illegal-immigrant students.

Again: Why? Does PCC consider the educations of non-citizens more important than the educations of Americans?  In many PCC programs — welding, nursing and veterinary technology, for instance — enrollment is limited and there is stiff competition for admission. The illegal-immigrant students championed by PCC's "Dream Center" will compete against, and in many cases crowd out, the college's American students for spots in those programs.

And to ice the cake: In April of last year, the college sponsored a "Whiteness History Month." The "whiteness" ideology, as summarized by academician Mikhail Lyubansky, posits that "U.S. society is characterized by a socially-created racial hierarchy that values white[s] above all others."

This, simply put, is nonsense.  Over the past half-century, American governments, colleges and businesses have instituted aggressive "diversity," affirmative-action and minority set-aside policies.  These give citizens and even non-citizens of color preferences for educations, jobs and promotions over the very citizens PCC alleged are "privileged" by "whiteness." Today, American society provides more freedom, opportunity and prosperity to more people of more races than any society in the world.  What, then, possessed PCC to propagate a racially-divisive ideology that fosters resentment against that society?

In sum: PCC, a taxpayer-supported institution, has undermined the rule of law.  It has championed, to the detriment of Americans, the interests of non-citizens here illegally. It has denigrated U.S. history and society. And it has set a destructive example for the students in whom it should strive to imbue respect — not contempt — for their country and its laws.

It is voters' right and obligation to hold PCC to account. When they receive their ballots, they should vote no on the PCC bond.

CONTRIBUTED - Richard F. LaMountain

Richard F. LaMountain lives in Cedar Mill. He was a chief sponsor of the 2014 statewide ballot measure via which Oregon voters rejected illegal-immigrant driving privileges. Email: rflamountain@peoplepc.com

John Bishop

We must maintain the trust of all residents so they too feel free to report crimes.

Recently, questions have been raised about why the U.S. attorney general portrayed Oregon law enforcement as unwilling to help Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) enforce immigration law.

Three separate issues limit the ability of Oregon law enforcement officers to cooperate with federal immigration officers. All of these issues are completely outside the control of law enforcement; two are statutory restrictions enacted by the Oregon Legislature, and the other is a result of a federal court decision.

In 1987, the Oregon Legislature passed ORS 181A.820, specifically prohibiting local police from using any agency money, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending people whose only violation is being in the country illegally. This law makes it clear that Oregon officers cannot get involved in immigration enforcement, although it does allow sharing information with ICE if a person is arrested on criminal charges.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed HB 3464 into law, which further prevents Oregon law enforcement agencies from sharing certain information with ICE. This law allows police to share the name of the person in custody, but we cannot share the person's address, associates, work or school information, contact information, or the times of their court hearings in some cases.

The final limitation is the opinion of the federal court in the Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County case. The court found that keeping Maria Miranda-Olivares in custody solely on the basis of an ICE detainer violated her constitutional rights. The county paid her more than $30,000 for holding her 19 hours past her release time.

Recently, another issue emerged that could potentially effect federal grants used to help fund local law enforcement programs. There are now federal demands to certify compliance with federal law in order to obtain these grants. These demands already have resulted in litigation, City of Chicago v. Sessions.

Significant uncertainty exists about whether we can comply with this federal law, (specifically 8 USC 1373), which prohibits any state or local prohibitions or restrictions on sending or receiving information from ICE regarding the citizenship or immigration status of a person.

The state doesn't believe that Oregon law violates federal law. It is unclear how the federal government will view HB 3464, and law enforcement is stuck in the middle between state and federal law. The Oregon State Sheriffs' Association has put this question to the U.S. Attorney's Office and is awaiting an answer.

Oregon law enforcement leaders are in a very difficult position. We must maintain the trust of all community members so they too feel free to report crimes, appear at court hearings, and understand Oregon officers do not enforce federal immigration law. That had been the case since 1987 — we were restricted from actively assisting ICE, but we were free to provide them the information they needed to carry out their mission.

That delicate neutrality has been destroyed by increasing tension and conflict between the state and federal law and administrations. The unwillingness of Washington, D.C., to acknowledge cases like Miranda-Olivares puts Oregon law enforcement agencies at risk.

Our national leaders' unwillingness to fix an immigration system that has been broken for decades is incredibly disappointing. The enactment of HB 3464, which requires Oregon law enforcement to deny information to ICE that any other person could lawfully obtain, further complicates our work, and the resulting restrictions on public safety grant funding reduces public safety.

The political rhetoric around immigration has some of our communities questioning whether they can trust their local law enforcement.

The immigration issues facing Oregon law enforcement are complex, challenging, and unlikely to be resolved quickly. In the meantime, your Oregon sheriffs will uphold the law, keep the lines of communication with both state and federal partners open, and focus on keeping our communities safe.

John Bishop is director of the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association. He served as sheriff of Curry County from 2008 to 2014. He can be reached at bishop@oregonsheriffs.org.