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.

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.

Gary Will
Statesman Journal, Salem
The earth population today is well over 7 billion, and very quickly heading toward 8 billion people.
I live in a nation that is struggling with opposing philosophies regarding open borders and globalization.
I cannot understand for the life of me how anyone can suspend their practical, logical, and ultimately basic common sense mind, and support such nonsense.
Considering the conditions that exist in the world today, it is not at all unreasonable to assume that at least one half of the current world population would be more than happy to trade its current life conditions with what they perceive to be the standard of living in the United States.
Without a great amount of mathematical prowess, that would mean 3.5 to 4 billion people walking across our borders and saying, "Here I am take care of me."
Really? Are liberals purely idealistic or just plain stupid?
- Gary Will
Jim Speirs
Portland Tribune
Is this too simple to understand? If I take my family to Disneyland and sneak my kids in without paying, then get caught, would it come as a surprise if my family is escorted out of the park? Would that be considered cruel or unjust? Would my underage kids be allowed to stay and wander throughout the park with no money or supervision? 
Can I go to any casino in operation in America and be allowed to play Texas Hold 'Em without ante money? Would there be no "buy-in" and would I be allowed access to the same "pot" if I didn't ante up the cost of entry? 
Trying to figure the logic here and to find some sort of analogy. So far ... it hasn't worked. 
Jim Speirs
North Portland
Alan Gallagher
Capital Press
Subtitle:  DACA recipients, and their parents, have no respect for rule of law, and believe that they may pick and choose which laws to obey.
The Capital Press has advocated for total amnesty for over 12 million illegal aliens, for DACA, for DAPA, and has said, of illegal immigrants that, in their place, “we would do the same.”
These are all wrong positions, legally and morally. Systematic breaking of American law should not be rewarded. Illegal aliens and DACA recipients have broken American law by illegal entry or overstay, and violated American law every day — every day — by using false/forged/stolen documents to obtain work and benefits, by lying and using false documents on I-9 forms, by tax fraud, driving without licenses and insurance, and so on. These are not minor crimes, and are deeply corrupting to America’s Rule of Law.
American citizens are properly prosecuted and punished for such crimes. DACA recipients, and their parents, have no respect for rule of law, and believe that they may pick and choose which laws to obey. This is a deeply corrupting and immoral idea. Perhaps they learned from Mexico’s deep corruption that laws have no moral content, but are only something to be dealt with. They fled Mexico, but brought its corruption here.
Complicit in this are many Americans, who likewise are corrupted by using and defending illegal aliens, especially as workers when the employers know they are illegal. These are crimes when committed by American citizens, and are no less crimes, and moral wrongs, when committed by illegal aliens or complicit Americans. Over and over again, the Capital Press justifies law-breaking under a plea of “necessity.”
Please note that President Trump did not “end” DACA, a temporary program which would have expired on its own terms. Instead he temporarily extended it, which passing the responsibility to Congress to approve it or not. When you say that “Congress must act,” Congress has acted: we have an immigration law. It is illegal aliens and law enforcement who have broken the law and/or failed to enforce the law, and who “must act.” Many readers of the Capital Press know illegal aliens, and know precisely of what I write: every day they break the law, and they teach their children by example to break the law.
The 1986 Amnesty was attended by huge amounts of fraud, and extended by outrageous courts for decades for those who were never intended to be eligible. DACA already is attended by huge amounts of fraud, by lack of vetting and interviews, and by approval of those recommended for denial. We are told to be sympathetic to “children” who have “no connection with their home country,” yet over 50,000 promptly visited their home countries with Advance Parole, and then obtained Green Cards based on these visits.
I know many Mexican families here, who retain deep family ties with Mexico. In decades of working with legal and illegal Mexican families, I know of scarcely any who lack deep ties to Mexico, and those who can go there regularly to visit. The “no connection” idea is a myth or lie.
Moreover, DACA children in the U.S. have had the benefit of a free education, some through college, and free health care (not available in Mexico) and years of welfare benefits, which would give them significant advantages if they returned to Mexico, which needs such educated people. Many have abused the U.S. tax system, claiming unqualified dependents, illegally claiming Earned Income Credits, using false/stolen Social Security numbers, and so one. We watch DACA recipients easily leave home to go to college, but then are told they cannot go to Mexico, the major destination of American tourists and where thousands of Americans live. Mexico is an advanced country, No. 12 in the world in GDP. In spite of its very real problems (Have you all visited Chicago or Baltimore recently?), it is an incredibly rich and beautiful country, which needs educated citizens for its culture and economy. We would not be sending DACA recipients or illegal aliens to Hell, but to a great country, which needs and wants them (in spite of the potential loss of billions of dollars in remittances, $120 billion in total, $23 billion to Mexico).
Mexico exports its problems to the U.S., and receives $23 billion in remittances annually, while U.S. employers gain cheap employees. The economic advantages to some are clear, but it is morally wrong.
Wayne Hatch
The Register Guard

I find it rather sad that there are so many of our state and local politicians, local leaders, and citizens who want to support illegal entrants over citizens of the United States.

I know that in the liberal town of Eugene it is considered heresy to make a statement like that. However, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said, we are a nation of laws that need to be followed.

Since many of our elected leaders support not following immigration laws today, what laws will they not want to follow tomorrow? Maybe tomorrow there will be no penalty for robbery, murder, rape, speeding, abusing a child, not following affirmative action or allowing a pet to overheat in a car.

For the benefit of all the citizens of the United States, we need to follow all the laws of our country. If you don’t like a law, do what President Trump just did with Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival executive order. He asked Congress to take a look at it and add or modify the law as it saw fit.

Please don’t allow state and local politicians and leaders to spend one cent of our tax dollars fighting for something that clearly needs to be addressed by Congress.

David Luck
Portland Tribune
Reading the "My View" in the Aug. 24 Portland Tribune by Rep. Diego Hernandez, it seems anything he does not agree with is "hate speech." He also apparently believes that only his views are protected by the First Amendment. It is worth noting that the people that Oregonians for Immigration Reform are focused on are people who have violated federal law (in many cases, multiple laws): The "immigrants" Hernandez sides with are lawbreakers, pure and simple, and must be subject to the laws of the United States of America like the rest of us. 
Hernandez goes on to attempt to tie requiring adherence to the laws of the land to "white supremacy" — a ludicrous position on the face of it. The bottom line is that folks who support groups like OFIR are "racist" only if "criminal" is a race.
That Hernandez believes he should be able to dictate to the Tribune what it does and does not print certainly says something about him.
David Luck
Lake Oswego
Jerry Ritter
The Register Guard

State Rep. Phil Barnhart’s Aug. 28 polemic, “Rolling back initiative rules bad policy,” is rife with false accusations, inaccuracies and hypocrisy and begs a response.

Barnhart’s central theme is that allowing initiative petitioners to begin gathering signatures before a ballot title is established is bad policy. He has a point, but his argument ignores history — including factors that led Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to propose the change. And while Barnhart slams Richardson for meddling in the “direct democracy” process, he has repeatedly done so himself.

Ballot titles are frequently contested by those who oppose a proposal. This delays signature gathering, sometimes to the point of there being insufficient time to qualify a petition. It’s an effective “first strike” against a proposal with which one disagrees.

It’s also a tactic that has amounted to outright sabotage. A classic example was Measure 88 in 2014 to refer the Legislature’s ill-advised illegal immigrant driver card bill (Senate Bill 833) to the voters. Barnhart joined his fellow Democrats in supporting an 11th-hour underhanded political move called a “gut and stuff” (House Bill 4054) for the sole purpose of eviscerating the ballot title.

This was done in an attempt to defeat the whole intent of the measure. Never before had such action been taken to undermine a citizen referendum. Any legislator with a sense of the public pulse knew what the voters’ verdict on the driver card issue was likely to be.

Barnhart calls Richardson’s proposal a “cynical ploy.” That’s exactly one of the many unflattering terms used by newspaper editorial boards in condemning HB 4054. The Oregon Supreme Court eventually upheld the original ballot title and the voters overwhelmingly rejected SB 833.

Barnhart labels Oregonians For Immigration Reform a right-wing extremist group engaged in “a crusade against people of color.” That’s nonsense. OFIR wants America’s immigration laws to be enforced. Barnhart, by his actions, seems to disagree. OFIR’s membership comprises ordinary people from varied walks of life and political affiliations concerned about over­population, jobs and respect for the law.

Barnhart also claims that these groups “have repeatedly failed to qualify their ballot measures.” OFIR was the driving force behind Measure 88. Given the nearly 1 million voters who supported OFIR in soundly rejecting SB 833, Barnhart is way out of line with his “extremist” accusation.

More recently, Barnhart joined his fellow Democrats in passing House Bill 3464 this year to implement a second “sanctuary” law for illegal immigrants. The bill was introduced within a week after OFIR filed Initiative Petition 22 to allow voters to weigh in on Oregon’s existing sanctuary law, Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820. A frivolous “emergency” clause was attached to the bill to prevent another referendum. Are we to believe HB 3464 and its timing were purely coincidental?

In the wake of Measure 88, legislators began to take stronger actions to prevent citizen oversight of decisions that they know would likely be opposed by most voters. Accordingly, every illegal immigrant support measure since then has included an “emergency” clause. Barnhart has endorsed all of these.

Barnhart hammers Richardson’s proposal but voted “aye” on Senate Bill 229. This bill made major changes to current protocol and specifically targeted the referendum, now underway, of portions of the $550 million health care and medical tax package passed by the 2017 Legislature (House Bill 2391).

Because “emergency” clauses cannot be attached to tax measures, Barnhart and his fellow Democrats had to find another way to disrupt this particular referendum. This included moving the voting schedule to January instead of November and giving Democratic legislators majority power over the ballot title. This action was also criticized by editorial boards.

Barnhart claims to be “proud of our process of direct democracy,” which gives “everyday voters the ability to make or amend laws.” I believe he means that — as long as he agrees with a particular example of “direct democracy.”

He also states, “The process has been abused and exploited by self-serving politicians ... .” He should know. That abuse includes “gut and stuffs,” specifically targeted rule changes, bogus “emergency” clauses and direct legislative interdiction against citizen initiatives and referenda. Phil Barnhart has participated in all of the above.

Given the foregoing, I find Representative Barnhart’s accusations unjustified and galling.

Jerry Ritter of Springfield works on legislative issues for three statewide organizations, including Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren

There is no acceptable reason why Oregon should not fully cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We are suffering the consequences of Oregon's misguided 1987 law (ORS 181A.820) that restricts cooperation. It should be repealed, and Initiative Petition IP 22 can do that.

The Center for Immigration Studies has issued a five-page fact sheet on immigration enforcement and community policing that proves there is no evidence of a "chilling effect" from local police cooperation with ICE. New DOJ testimony confirms the claim is spurious.

Legislators should put the safety and well-being of citizens first, not dream up protections for illegal immigrants such as HB 3464's "privacy" for illegal immigrants. Every Democrat in the Oregon Legislature but one (Sen. Betsy Johnson) voted to put the "privacy" of illegal immigrants above the interests of citizens.

Illegal, unlimited, unrestricted immigration will quickly destroy a nation. ICE is responsible for interior enforcement of our immigration laws. It's essential to give ICE agents full cooperation and let them do their job. They should be thanked for the difficult, dangerous work they do on the public's behalf.