amnesty

Very special guest, Dr. Stephen Steinlight, addresses OFIR meeting

Dr. Stephen Steinlight - Senior Policy Analyst from The Center for Immigration Studies in Washington DC addressed OFIR members and guests and OFIR's annual Christmas Party and meeting.  The overwhelming defeat of Ballot Measure 88 was celebrated, as well.  Visit our OFIR photo gallery.

An amnesty plan fit for an emperor, not America

President Obama's executive order on amnesty is long and complex. Take a speed reading course and here's what you can find out: nobody goes home unless the president decides you are unworthy of his beneficence. 
 
The president has drawn arbitrary lines in the sand. Some people have to have been here five years or more, others do not. He did not include parents of those who received earlier Obama grants, but instead made sure other relatives got his special treatment.
 
Can this possibly be a power delegated to the president by Congress? Of course not. It leaves the plenary power of Congress to set immigration limits and standards shivered in fragments, along with our system of checks and balances.
 
Forget the Obama claims of fine legal distinctions or the bogus excuses about limited resources. These Obama amnesty terms really are arbitrary. The president operates on a political whim, pursuing whatever he thinks is feasible politically.
 
Obama is very close to organizations and people who want to destroy U.S. immigration controls. He is, as Alinsky called it, close to the "scene of conflict." The famous radical said, "One's concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one's distance from the scene of the conflict." Obama isn't near the conflict, he now is the conflict.
 
The president is now outside the law and the Constitution. He believes he cannot be stopped. That's why he acted. He knows it is illegal, and he still may doubt he's an emperor. The core threat to the United States in that his administration believes it can be lawless so long as no alien is denied a benefit. The president can admit whoever he wants; he can amnesty whoever he wants; he can give out American jobs to whomever he wants; he can force taxpayers to pay for all manners of benefits. He thinks no one can stop him, and this cannot be sustained in a democracy.
 
Here is the core of this argument: The administration believes no one has legal standing to challenge him in court, so his distinctions are purely political, not legal. He could just decree everyone gets to stay with work cards. He could decree unlimited benefits for them all. He believes no court will review his policies. He may be right, but those who oppose him will do whatever they can to prove him wrong.
 
The longer an alien remains in the country illegally — especially with granted benefits such as work documents — the more difficult it is to ever remove them. Delay works in favor of the illegal alien and against taxpayers and law abiding Americans. Obama knows this.
 
In responding, the Republican leadership is already confused and fearful of being outmaneuvered again. Impeachment is neither contemplated nor threatened. Announced so far? Possible defunding and, later, passing bills he might veto?
 
Whatever the new Republican Congress does, it must do so with the expectation that Obama is not done. His first actions in 2012 announcing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was part of a long series of orders and decisions gutting immigration law enforcement. He has continued this outrage nonstop since then. His new executive order will be followed by more and more illegal actions over the next two years.
 
Naturally, the new Congress must pass an explicit bar to try to prevent the president from carrying out these executive orders. He will veto, of course, and in doing so prove this has nothing to do with his claims of limited resources and everything to do with trying to re-engineer this society.
 
But they must do more. They must realize the severity of the threat, the express loss of national self-determination indicated by a wholesale collapse in the rule of law.
 
Congress has been assaulted, demeaned and marginalized. The president will do more and more, in an effort to further embarrass, humiliate and provoke the Republican leadership. It must confront this president, and assert the broad principles that underscore our constitutional system. Congress must do so with an eye toward what will surely be these next two years "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object (that) evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism."
 
The precedent sought by President Obama will make the nation ungovernable, in time. No nation in recorded history has survived the sustained loss of border control. Despite the ill-named myth of American exceptionalism, neither can the United States.
 

House Leadership Peddles Plan that Punts Defunding of Executive Amnesty

In a closed-door meeting this morning, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) pitched House Republicans a plan to pass a government funding bill that delays the decision on whether to defund President Obama's executive amnesty to next year. The Speaker's proposal comes as Congress is racing to pass a budget before the government runs out of funding on December 11. And, because the Constitution requires that spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, Speaker Boehner is ultimately the one to spearhead the process for defunding the President's immigration orders. (See U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 7)

Under the Speaker's plan, the House will take a hybrid approach to funding the government. First, Congress will consider an appropriations bill that funds most of the government through September 2015 (known as an omnibus), but only funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until March (known as a Continuing Resolution). (Politico, Dec. 2, 2014) House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who previously claimed Congress cannot defund the executive amnesty, voiced his support for the Speaker's plan, calling it a "good option" that would allow him to get the spending package to the House floor "early next week." (Politico, Dec. 2, 2014; CQ Today, Dec. 2, 2014; see FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014)

Then, the House will vote on a separate bill to express its disapproval of the executive amnesty. Authored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), this bill prohibits the executive branch from exempting from deportation "persons unlawfully present in the United States." (H.R. 5759) However, with Democrats still controlling the Senate, this bill will be dead on arrival. Thus, the bill to fund the government will go through, but nothing will be done to stop the President's executive amnesty.

True immigration reformers blasted House GOP leadership for promoting this strategy. Representative Steve King (R-IA) declared, "I will not vote to fund the president's lawless unconstitutional act and they should not be asking members to do so." (Bloomberg Government, Dec. 2, 2014) Similarly, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a letter from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) that refutes the claim by GOP leadership that it lacks the authority to defund the executive amnesty. CRS wrote that even for agencies that are largely funded through fees (such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)), "the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds." (See Reuters, Nov. 26, 2014)

However, if Speaker Boehner can garner enough support from the rank-and-file for this approach, Congress will likely wait until March to act. Many who support the President's actions hope that the extra time will help quell public outrage at the President's actions that will shield 5 million illegal aliens from deportation, grant them work authorization, and make them eligible for numerous benefits
 

Learn about Obama's Royal Decree - Executive Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform's director, Fred Elbel has created an informational and resource page including a broad scope of insightful articles covering President Obama's recent executive amnesty decree. 

The issue of executive amnesty extends far beyond amnesty, citizenship, and voting rights for millions of illegal aliens - who will overwhelmingly vote for Obama's political party. It fundamentally challenges the framework of our Constitutional Republic. It must be addressed directly, forcefully, and immediately.

Our nation's sovereignty is at stake and it would behoove all of us to more fully understand the gravity of what the President is attempting to do.


 

Half of Oregon's undocumented immigrants eligible for deportation relief, Pew data show

About half of Oregon's unauthorized immigrants will be eligible for deportation relief under President Barack Obama's executive order, announced yesterday.

Using 2012 data, the Pew Research Center calculated that of the 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, about 50,000 will be newly eligible for relief. Only Idaho and Nebraska have higher percentages of newly eligible immigrants....

Though the president's executive order was welcomed by immigration activists, some felt that more needs to be done for the approximately 6 million who will be be unaffected by the order....

To qualify, immigrants must have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and must have lived in the U.S. at least five years.

Read the full report at the Pew Research Center.

Undocumented workers, day laborers and activists staged a rally Friday at the Portland Federal Building in response to President Barack Obama's planned changes to immigration policy. (Kristyna Wentz-Graff/The Oregonian)

Source: Pew Research Center estimates based on augmented 2012 American Community Survey data from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
 

What Obama's immigration reform means for Oregon

President Barack Obama laid out his plan Thursday night to provide relief to about 5 million people in the United States who have moved here without legal permission, most notably issuing an executive order allowing undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents to be granted legal status as well.

"All of us take offense to those who reap the rewards of living in America without embracing its responsibilities," he said. However, "undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows."

It was unclear what the changes would mean in Oregon. They were well received among political leaders, but the agricultural industry was less enthusiastic, arguing that the reforms failed on many counts.

Everyone agreed, however, that the responsibility lies with Congress to pass comprehensive reforms that will address all the problems related to American's undocumented immigrant population.

This has become an increasingly thorny issue in Oregon.

Migrant labor has become a cornerstone of the state's agricultural industry, and there are about 120,000 undocumented immigrants living here. It is one of a handful of states where the number of illegal immigrants has grown fastest over the past twenty years, and immigration policy is rising to the forefront of public discussion.

Jeff Stone, executive director for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said the plan will do little to help the state's agricultural industry, and he said it does not make up for the missed opportunity for real reform in Congress.

"(Obama's proposal) is not a replacement for resolving the immigration problem that is facing the country," he said. "It promotes everybody's narrative, positive and negative, but it doesn't solve the problem."

Comprehensive reform would include a true guest-worker program that provides a steady, reliable workforce and a new visa system to allow people who have been here for years to gain legal status in a manageable way, Stone said.

He's not alone. Farm workers across the country will largely fall outside the scope of the proposed reforms, and the national agricultural industry is skeptical that anything short of a new set of laws will stabilize their workforce.

Estimates of how many people in the country illegally are working in agriculture vary, ranging from about 500,000 to as many as 1.75 million individuals.

Obama's proposal is expected to apply to about 250,000 of them, a tiny fraction.

"For what appears to be a small subset of current agricultural workers, the president's actions will alleviate some pressure in the short term but does not offer these workers, their families, their communities or their employers the long-term assurance they deserve," said Charles Conner, head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Craig Regelbrugge of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform said his group never expected administrative action could provide a broad solution to the farmworker issue.

"We've seen an inexorable growth in food imports, including fruits and vegetables," Regelbrugge said. "Imports are displacing domestic production."

He said a combination of factors, including tighter border enforcement, have contributed to a worsening of the farm labor shortage.

"The workforce situation has gotten worse and worse and worse and worse," Regelbrugge said. "I think we would have had a disaster in California this year had we not had a drought disaster" that reduced crops.

For Stone, the situation in Oregon is similar. There are not enough workers and not enough certainty for the farmers.

Oregon lost one-third of its nursery growers during the recession, and it is just now building itself back up, Stone said. It relies on migrant workers, and there is a labor shortage under the current system. There are simply not enough people to work these jobs who can prove they're allowed to be here. The president's ideas don't solve that problem.

"There aren't enough visas for the work that needs to be done," Stone said. True immigration reform "is needed for the long-term survival of this country economically."

Some disagree with the idea that Obama's reforms are needed at all.

Jim Ludwick, former president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said he does not support the plan. It isn't needed, he said. Rather, the president ought to focus on enforcing the laws we already have.

He said Obama's speech was disingenuous, conflating facts and suggesting law-abiding citizens are frequently deported when they are not, Ludwick said. The speech was meant as a political maneuver, he said, and was designed to tug at heart strings and manipulate emotions rather than set policy.

"He knows all these things he put out will never come to fruition," Ludwick said.

Immigration policy has come increasingly to the forefront in Oregon. Two weeks ago, Oregon voters shot down a ballot measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to hold state-issued driver cards. The Oregon Legislature had already approved the law, but voters disagreed and defeated the proposal by an overwhelming margin.

Stone said it was a shame the law hadn't passed and would have benefited the agricultural industry a great deal, but Ludwick said it was a true referendum on what Oregonians really think about immigration policy.

Political leaders were clearly more in line with Stone than Ludwick on Obama's speech, as they had been on driver's cards last year.

"I applaud President Obama's announcement this evening. His leadership will help innumerable families across the country. In our state, his action will mean that thousands of Oregonians have the ability to safely pursue aspects of daily life that many of us take for granted," said Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.

Gov. John Kitzhaber offered his support as well and, like Stone, said the needed work is not done.

"As Oregonians, we believe in a fair shot for everyone... It remains to be seen whether Congress will step up, do what's right, and pass meaningful immigration reform, or whether it will continue to play politics with the lives of millions who have been living, working, and contributing to our communities for years."

Obama called on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform package, and he insisted the temporary measures he has proposed are in keeping with American values.

"We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once too," he said. "What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will."
 

House GOP Panel: Defunding Immigration Order ‘Impossible’

It would be “impossible" to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration through a government spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee said Thursday.

In a statement released by Committee Chairman Hal Rogers's (R-Ky.) office hours before Obama's scheduled national address, the committee said the primary agency responsible for implementing Obama's actions is funded entirely by user fees.

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As a result, the committee said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) agency would be able to continue to collect fees and carry out its operations even if the government shut down.

“This agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications," the committee said in a statement. "Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to 'defund' the agency."

A spokesman for Rogers and the panel elaborated on the point in a discussion with reporters.

“We cannot, literally cannot, defund that agency in an appropriations bill because we don’t appropriate that agency. That agency is entirely fee-funded,” spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said.

“As of right now, our understanding is the primary agency responsible for implementing any type of executive order is CIS and we don’t fund CIS. There are no appropriated dollars,” she added.

Rogers has been outspoken in arguing that Congress should pass an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck Congress that would keep the government funded through September 2015.

He and GOP leaders have come under pressure from conservative Republicans to use a funding bill to prevent Obama's administration from carrying out executive actions on immigration that could give legal status to millions of immigrants.

Those conservatives have called for a spending measure to defund certain agencies that would carry out the order.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who wants to defund the order, said he didn’t buy the argument from appropriators.

“I just don't believe that,” he told reporters.

"They're contriving red herring arguments to get to the point that enough members will walk out of this Congress and go home for Thanksgiving saying, 'Well, there's nothing we can do.' "

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also dismissed the argument and said lawmakers could attach language to an appropriations bill that would result in defunding the order.

“The American people’s Congress has the power and every right to deny funding for unworthy activities,” he said. “It is a routine and constitutional application of congressional power. There is no question that Congress has the power to block this expenditure and no doubt that it can be done.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel, acknowledged the procedural difficulties in defunding Obama’s order, but said there are ways around them.

"That's one of the challenges we've always had, but to say you can't do something, maybe we need to explore more options," he said.

"You can put a rider on a lot of things. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat."

Budget expert Stan Collender, executive vice president at Qorvis MSLGROUP, agreed that Republicans have options.

“Congress can, if it wishes, use an appropriations bill to include authorization language,” he said. “There’s no constitutional prohibition against that.”

But while Collender warned to take Rogers’ words about defunding with a “grain of salt,” he said defunding the order would face major hurdles.

Even if a bill defunding Obama's actions made it to the Senate floor, there would likely be a point of order that would require 60 votes to waive, Collender said.

On top of that, President Obama would almost certainly veto the bill, and Congress likely wouldn’t have the two-thirds majority needed to override it.

The House Appropriations Committee has communicated issues with defunding to GOP leaders, but Hing declined to describe their reaction.

Another idea Rogers had advanced for dealing with Obama's order was for Congress to pass a funding bill for the entire government this year, and then look to rescind funds related to the executive order in January, when Republicans will have control of both the House and the Senate.

Asked if a rescission bill would be irrelevant now, Hing said, “right,” but then added that this could change based on the executive order’s provisions.

“Later on, if we find out down the road that ... other agencies have some piece of it, then we can go back and specifically look at those agencies,” she said.

Congress could also pass an authorization bill to shift the funding authority for CIS to lawmakers.

But Rogers argued that couldn’t be part of an appropriations bill.

“To alter or change the fee matter, it would take a change of law — an authorization — to change an immigration act. It would take an act of Congress,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said.

The Appropriations panel, meanwhile, is moving forward with a 12-bill omnibus spending package.

“We’re making good progress on negotiations and we expect to have the bill on the floor the week of December 8,” Hing said.

Congress must pass a new spending bill by Dec. 12 or the government will shut down.

— Peter Schroeder, Bernie Becker and Cristina Marcos contributed

 

What Obama's immigration reform means for Oregon

President Barack Obama laid out his plan Thursday night to provide relief to about 5 million people in the United States who have moved here without legal permission, most notably issuing an executive order allowing undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents to be granted legal status as well.

"All of us take offense to those who reap the rewards of living in America without embracing its responsibilities," he said. However, "undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows."

It was unclear what the changes would mean in Oregon. They were well received among political leaders, but the agricultural industry was less enthusiastic, arguing that the reforms failed on many counts.

Everyone agreed, however, that the responsibility lies with Congress to pass comprehensive reforms that will address all the problems related to American's undocumented immigrant population.

This has become an increasingly thorny issue in Oregon.

Migrant labor has become a cornerstone of the state's agricultural industry, and there are about 120,000 undocumented immigrants living here. It is one of a handful of states where the number of illegal immigrants has grown fastest over the past twenty years, and immigration policy is rising to the forefront of public discussion.

Jeff Stone, executive director for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said the plan will do little to help the state's agricultural industry, and he said it does not make up for the missed opportunity for real reform in Congress.

"(Obama's proposal) is not a replacement for resolving the immigration problem that is facing the country," he said. "It promotes everybody's narrative, positive and negative, but it doesn't solve the problem."

Comprehensive reform would include a true guest-worker program that provides a steady, reliable workforce and a new visa system to allow people who have been here for years to gain legal status in a manageable way, Stone said.

He's not alone. Farm workers across the country will largely fall outside the scope of the proposed reforms, and the national agricultural industry is skeptical that anything short of a new set of laws will stabilize their workforce.

Estimates of how many people in the country illegally are working in agriculture vary, ranging from about 500,000 to as many as 1.75 million individuals.

Obama's proposal is expected to apply to about 250,000 of them, a tiny fraction.

"For what appears to be a small subset of current agricultural workers, the president's actions will alleviate some pressure in the short term but does not offer these workers, their families, their communities or their employers the long-term assurance they deserve," said Charles Conner, head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Craig Regelbrugge of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform said his group never expected administrative action could provide a broad solution to the farmworker issue.

"We've seen an inexorable growth in food imports, including fruits and vegetables," Regelbrugge said. "Imports are displacing domestic production."

STATESMANJOURNAL

Full text: Obama's immigration speech

He said a combination of factors, including tighter border enforcement, have contributed to a worsening of the farm labor shortage.

"The workforce situation has gotten worse and worse and worse and worse," Regelbrugge said. "I think we would have had a disaster in California this year had we not had a drought disaster" that reduced crops.

For Stone, the situation in Oregon is similar. There are not enough workers and not enough certainty for the farmers.

Oregon lost one-third of its nursery growers during the recession, and it is just now building itself back up, Stone said. It relies on migrant workers, and there is a labor shortage under the current system. There are simply not enough people to work these jobs who can prove they're allowed to be here. The president's ideas don't solve that problem.

"There aren't enough visas for the work that needs to be done," Stone said. True immigration reform "is needed for the long-term survival of this country economically."

Some disagree with the idea that Obama's reforms are needed at all.

Jim Ludwick, former president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said he does not support the plan. It isn't needed, he said. Rather, the president ought to focus on enforcing the laws we already have.

He said Obama's speech was disingenuous, conflating facts and suggesting law-abiding citizens are frequently deported when they are not, Ludwick said. The speech was meant as a political maneuver, he said, and was designed to tug at heart strings and manipulate emotions rather than set policy.

"He knows all these things he put out will never come to fruition," Ludwick said.

Immigration policy has come increasingly to the forefront in Oregon. Two weeks ago, Oregon voters shot down a ballot measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to hold state-issued driver cards. The Oregon Legislature had already approved the law, but voters disagreed and defeated the proposal by an overwhelming margin.

Stone said it was a shame the law hadn't passed and would have benefited the agricultural industry a great deal, but Ludwick said it was a true referendum on what Oregonians really think about immigration policy.

Political leaders were clearly more in line with Stone than Ludwick on Obama's speech, as they had been on driver's cards last year.

"I applaud President Obama's announcement this evening. His leadership will help innumerable families across the country. In our state, his action will mean that thousands of Oregonians have the ability to safely pursue aspects of daily life that many of us take for granted," said Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.

Gov. John Kitzhaber offered his support as well and, like Stone, said the needed work is not done.

"As Oregonians, we believe in a fair shot for everyone... It remains to be seen whether Congress will step up, do what's right, and pass meaningful immigration reform, or whether it will continue to play politics with the lives of millions who have been living, working, and contributing to our communities for years."

Obama called on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform package, and he insisted the temporary measures he has proposed are in keeping with American values.

"We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once too," he said. "What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will."

Deep Blue Oregon Votes To Block Drivers’ License To Illegals

Democrats and Republicans in bluer-than-blue Oregon strongly backed a referendum on Election Day to eliminate a 2013 law that would have provided drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.

The small band of Republican politicians and activists who put the referendum on the ballot say national Republican politicians should learn that if they oppose amnesty, the public will support them.

On Nov. 4, 66 percent of the state’s voters backed the referendum and eliminated the illegals’ licenses.

Those 908,682 voters included many Democrats who also reelected the state’s Democratic establishment, led by Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Jeff Merkley.

“It is only at the state legislature and at Congress that [illegal immigration] becomes a partisan issue,” said state Rep. Kim Thatcher, who sponsored the referendum, dubbed Measure 88.

“In real life, people appreciate the importance of the laws, and they appreciate people who come here legally and they don’t want to support people who come here illegally,” she told The Daily Caller.

People would come up and say to me, ‘I am a lifelong liberal, but this is going too far. Please let me sign your petition,’” said Cynthia Kendoll, the president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

“They were adamant that people who are in our country have gotten way too much and that we’ve got to fix this problem,” she told TheDC.

Since it was first publicized in late 2013, the referendum “polled two-to-one from day one. … That needle didn’t move at all,” said GOP state Rep. Sal Esquivel. ”People are pretty much set … and they want to see their federal government go ahead and take care of the situation instead of moving their lips and doing nothing.”

“Doggone it, a lot of Democrats feel the same way as Republicans,” Esquivel said.

That judgment is backed up by national polls, including recent surveys by Paragon Insights and the bipartisan battleground series of polls.

Measure 88 also helped GOP candidates who championed it, said Esquivel. “People who campaigned on this issue did quite well, an the ones that did not, didn’t do very well.”

The GOP gubernatorial candidate ignored the issue, and lost his race, 600,300 votes to Kitzhaber’s 668,816 votes.

But Rep. Thatcher, a Measure 88 sponsor, won a seat in the state Senate, even though GOP turnout sagged, and the state’s voters increased the Democratic advantage in the Senate from 16:14 to 18:12.

The referendum was also championed by Bill Post, a conservative talk-show host who was elected to take Thatcher’s seat in the state House.

During his campaign, Post won support from the major trade association that backed the award of drivers’ licenses to illegals, the Oregon Association of Nurseries. The association’s member companies use many migrants to plant and trim trees.

In a meeting with the association’s members, “I said ‘No, it’s really simple, you can’t break the law’ … [and] they endorsed me and gave me money,” Post told TheDC. “On 99 percent of the issues, they and I see eye-to-eye,” Post said.

Other employers are investing in machinery instead of relying on migrant workers. For example, the state’s growing win industry had designed its vineyards so that grapes can be harvested by machines instead of migrants.

Measure 88 was so popular that the organizers won with a budget of only $50,000 for the campaign. The group spent only 18 cents per vote to win 35 of 36 counties in the state.

In contrast, Kentucky GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell and his supporters paid 278 times as much, at $50 per vote.

The activists were actually outspent roughly five-to-one by pro-license group, Yes on Oregon Safe Roads.

The pro-license group was funded by the state’s Latino lobbies and immigration lawyers, by Hollywood liberals, and by progressive unions, churches and legal groups. It was also backed by landscaping and agricultural companies who prefer to hire cheap migrant labor instead of investing in machinery. These groups supported the Democrat-drafted 2013 license law because it incentivized more illegals to work and live in the state.

But the business and progressive groups only won the ballot in a single district, Portland, by a narrow 55-to-45 split.

“Moscow on the Willamette is very liberal, very left wing. … We didn’t even campaign there,” said spokesman Jim Ludwick, communications director at Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

The referendum’s backers tried to avoid any hint of ethnic tension or anti-immigrant attitudes in their campaign.

Instead, they focused their criticism on the unfairness of the 2013 law’s lax treatment of illegal drivers, and the unfairness of the state’s support for companies’ use of low-wage migrant labor.

“Nobody wants to break up families, nobody wants to be the meanie, but we do need to make sure that the people coming to the U.S. contribute and become part of the positive fabric,” said Thatcher, who owns a road construction firm.

“We try to talk about [immigration] in the general sense, because if you get down to specific individuals … you go down a slippery slope, you start denigrating groups based on a few,” Ludwig said.

Many voters were repelled by the 2013 law’s easy treatment of illegals, said Ludwick.

Oregonians must periodically prove their identity with passports and birth certificates as they renew their licenses, but illegals would have been able to get a license by showing an unverifiable “Matrícula Consular” identification document that they can buy from Mexican government officials in Oregon.

That sense of unfairness was also a proxy issue for fear loss of control, said Ludwick. There’s no guarantee that the Mexican ID cards would show the person’s true name, so the process could be gamed by criminals to conceal their identity behind real Oregon licenses said, he said.

“Our sovereignty would be in the hands of the Mexican counsel general’s office,” he said. “They would be the adjudicator of who could stay in the country.”

Voters were also concerned about the impact of illegals on jobs, said Ludwick.

“When we talked about jobs we simply said this — wages are flat, there’s been no increase in wages, millions of Americans are out work and millions are underemployed,” Ludwick said.

People understand that “if you have an oversupply of labor, wages are going to be suppressed,” he said.

“Our economy is in mess, we don’t have jobs” outside Portland, said Post.

People don’t want to blame immigration or immigrants for the problems, but they would talk around the issue of immigration’s impact on jobs, Ludwick said. For example, one woman whom he said she would support the referendum because her two sons couldn’t find good jobs. “One is living at home, and one is sharing an apartment, trying to get on a substitute teacher, the [first] one went back to school because he can’t get a job in his field,” Ludwick said.

But those fairness and jobs issues, however true, important and civic-minded, were also proxy issues for the public’s deeper concerns about the impact of large-scale immigration on their communities, Ludwick said.

“One of the biggest things that’s not really addressed is that the U.S. is so welcoming, and we just keep giving and giving, and we keep including so many people at great cost to us, our society, to our pocket book, to our unemployment,” said Kendoll.

“We’re getting to that tipping point. … People are saying ‘Wait a minute, this is just too much,’” she said.

“It’s the numbers,” Ludwick said, citing the annual arrival of one million legal immigrants, 650,000 guest-workers and many illegal immigrants, who seek jobs sought by the four million Americans who enter the workforce each year.

“It is not that every migrant is bad. … It is that we can’t accommodate all the world’s poor and underprivileged,” he said.

Despite their huge victory in blue Oregon, the Oregon GOP members and activists haven’t gotten any calls from the national GOP apparatus.

“Not a single solitary one,” said Kendoll.

TheDC asked for a comment from Rep. Greg Walden, the sole Republican House member in Oregon, and the chairman of the committee panel that helps GOP legislators win elections.

“Greg opposes amnesty, voted against the drivers’ license referendum, and was glad to see it defeated overwhelmingly,” said a statement from Walden’s press aide, Andrew Malcolm. “In his many town halls and other meetings in Oregon, Greg has heard strong support for securing the border and fixing our broken immigration system,” Malcolm said.

Many Oregon employers hire foreign college grads in place of Americans.

The lesson from Oregon’s referendum is that Washington politicians “should stand up, and yes it would help [the Oregon GOP] because people will start to recognize that the Republicans actually can provide leadership,” said Thatcher.

“If they could stand up, they could pull a lot of people from all parties to recognize at least that part of the GOP as a positive thing, and say, may be the Republicans have backbone after all.”

By pushing his amnesty plan, Obama isn’t learning the lessons that voters are teaching, said Esquivel. “It seems like he would have learned from the last election, but obviously he didn’t. … He keeps taking a meat cleaver and putting it into his forehead to see if it hurts.”

GOP leaders should “wake up, the people are upset right now,” said Post.

“We have to secure the borders and we have to deal with this immigration issue,” he said. “Right now, the wind is at their back. The Nov. 4 election, it was a red wave.”

Obama heads to Vegas to rally support for immigration overhaul

Determined to go it alone, President Obama will head to Nevada on Friday to sign an executive order granting “deferred action” to two illegal immigrant groups- parents of United States citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for five years, and young people who who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010.

Obama will sign the executive order at the same Las Vegas high school where he unveiled his sweeping blueprint for a national immigration overhaul nearly two years ago.

Hispanics are a growing and powerful constituency in Nevada and the state serves as fertile ground for the president to rally public support.

During a 15-minute primetime speech Thursday, Obama said his administration will start accepting applications from illegal immigrants who seek the deferred actions.

Those who qualify will be granted protections for three years, Obama said, as he laid out his sweeping plan to the public Thursday night from the East Room of the White House.

“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” Obama said during the primetime address. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”

Obama, who pitched his plan as a “commonsense, middle ground approach,” said “if you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law” but warned “if you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.”

The president did not specify how many in each "deferred action" group would be granted the new status. According to recent reports, the parental group could involve upwards of 4.5 million immigrants, with those brought into the country illegally making up close to 300,000 new applications. There are an estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.

But Republicans have been quick to criticize and say the executive action is an example of Obama stretching his powers as president.

Even before the speech, conservatives said they were willing to do whatever was necessary to stop Obama’s plan.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the majority leader in January when the new congressional class is sworn-in, said Obama would regret choosing to ignore the will of the American people.

McConnell, who made his statements from the Senate floor Thursday morning, has led the charge against the president and has promised a legislative fight when Republicans take full control of Congress in 2015.

“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act,” McConnell said.

Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz, who will replace Rep. Darrell Issa as chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News that the president’s timing on announcing the plan was “crystal clear.”

“It’s all about politics,” Chaffetz said. “He just got slaughtered in an election.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in an op-ed in Politico Wednesday that if Obama acts, the new GOP majority in the Senate should retaliate by not acting on a single one of his nominees – executive or judicial – “so long as the illegal amnesty persists.”

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