election

Trump reverses promise to "immediately terminate" Obama's executive amnesty

Despite his pledge to #forgottenAmericans, @realDonaldTrump has issued more than 100,000 work permits to foreign workers in U.S. illegally.

Last night, his administration expressed its intention to issue more.

Three days ago, acting ICE director, Thomas D. Homan told the House Appropriations committee that regarding enforcement, "no population is off the table" and deportation orders would no longer be ignored. "I don't know where else in the American justice system any other agency is told to ignore a judge's ruling," he said.

Last night, however, DHS announced that it will continue to honor President Obama's 2012 executive amnesty (DACA), saying that "DACA recipients will continue to be eligible" for the program and "No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates."

"Trump Will Allow 'Dreamers' to Stay in U.S., Reversing Campaign Promise" - New York Times
"Trump won't alter status of current Dreamers" - Politico

In a speech last August @realDonaldTrump pledged to "immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties": DACA and DAPA.

Instead of ending DACA, DHS announced that it was officially rescinding Obama's 2014 executive amnesty (DAPA), which had never been enacted.

"Trump scraps Obama-era program protecting undocumented parents" - McClatchy

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to implement the active executive amnesty. Last month, Trump's nominee to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Congress he expected the Trump administration to continue to issue work permits through DACA:

"I'm aware that both the president and Secretary Kelly have stated publicly and reiterated that the DACA program is to remain in place...

"...If confirmed, I would see my role to administer that program well, as it stands."

In his inauguration speech, @realDonaldTrump pledged that "Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families."

Two of every 5 Millennials of all ethnicities under age 30 with no college degree have no job of any kind. But Trump and Obama's DACA program grants work permits to people in the U.S. illegally who came to the U.S. before age 16 and were born after June 14, 1981.

Politico reports:

"One prominent Democrat said he'd extracted a promise not to alter the current protections for so-called Dreamers.

"'I'm grateful that President Trump has decided to keep the DACA program in place,' Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said on the Senate floor Thursday. 'Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Nominee Francis Cissna have promised me personally and publicly that they will maintain the existing guidelines for the DACA program. I appreciate the commitment and intend to hold them to it.'

"Since Trump took office, renewal of expiring DACA permits appears to have continued as normal. More than 17,000 new approvals took place between January and March and more than 107,000 existing DACA recipients had their work permits renewed for an additional two years."

Trump scraps Obama policy that protected immigrant parents from deportation

An Obama-era immigration program intended to protect parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents from deportation has been formally cancelled, fulfilling a key campaign promise from President Trump, the Homeland Security Department announced late Thursday.

Homeland Security John Kelly formally revoked a policy memo that created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program...

The program to protect parents was announced by President Obama in November 2014 but was never fully launched because it was blocked by a federal court, according to Reuters.

It was intended to keep the immigrant parents safe from deportation and provide them with a renewable work permit good for two years, but it was blocked by a federal judge in Texas...

Republicans decried the effort as “backdoor amnesty” and argued that Obama overstepped his authority...

The protection program for parents, like the one for young immigrants, was created with a policy memo during the Obama administration...

Revoking the memo and ending the stalled program fulfill a key campaign promise by Trump....

...As of March 31, about 787,000 young immigrants have been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to government data.

Arrests of immigrants in the interior of the country have increased under the Trump administration, but deportations are slightly down as fewer people have been caught crossing the Mexican border into the United States illegally.

Trump has made immigration enforcement a top priority and has vowed to continue a crackdown...

Reuters reported that Trump previously said that his administration was considering different options.

“They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump told ABC News in January, referring to DACA recipients. “I do have a big heart. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Next OFIR meeting - Saturday, June 24 at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
2017-06-15
Alert body: 

Mark your calendar and invite a friend to join you Saturday, June 24th at 2:00pm for OFIR's next meeting at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn, across from Costco in Salem, OR.

Things are heating up in the Oregon Legislature as time is running short and so many things are yet unresolved.  OFIR has invited Representatives Greg Barreto and Mike Nearman to join us.  Your questions are welcome and encouraged as time allows!

Initiative Petition #22  - to overturn Oregon's Sanctuary Statute ORS 181A.820 is now in the hands of the Attorney General, awaiting a ballot title.  Perhaps by meeting day, we will have a ballot title.

OFIR has been closely monitoring HB 3464 and it's particularly troubling legislation.  Read the press release.  The bill has now advanced to the House Floor and OFIR members are encouraged to phone or email their Representatives and encourage them to vote no on this terrible bill.

As usual, our agenda is packed with the most up-to-date information regarding recent immigration issues here in Oregon and across the country.

 


 

No apologies: ICE chief says illegal immigrants should live in fear of deportation

Illegal immigrants should be living in fear of being deported, the chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday, pushing back against a growing sentiment among Democrats on Capitol Hill and activists across the country who have complained about agents enforcing the laws on the books.

Thomas D. Homan, acting director at ICE, said anyone in the country without authorization can be arrested and those who have been ordered deported by judges must be removed if laws are to have meaning.
 
His comments marked a major shift for an agency that President Obama forbade from enforcing the law when it came to more than 9 million of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Unshackled from Mr. Obama's strictures, agents have dramatically increased the number of arrests.
Advocacy groups are enraged and demand leniency for traumatized immigrants.
 
Mr. Homan makes no apologies.  "If you're in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried,  Mr. Homan testified to the House Appropriations Committee. No population is off the table."
 
The Trump administration is asking for significant boosts in spending for both border and interior enforcement, but it is meeting resistance from Democrats who oppose a crackdown.  Democrats will not accept a penny of funding for a new deportation force or a border wall,” said Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
 
Border Patrol acting Chief Carla Provost defended the 74 miles of fencing that President Trump wants to erect next year, saying the wall will plug holes where illegal activity is still a problem in San Diego and parts of Texas.
 
She said the southwestern border is at medium risk of penetration and needs the wall to assist. She said construction on the 74 miles would start in either March or April.
 
Mr. Homan, meanwhile, said he needs a major infusion of detention beds to hold the larger population of illegal immigrants, now that his agents have been unshackled from the restrictions under Mr. Obama.
 
He said the number of countries refusing to take back their deportees has been cut in half, while the number of jurisdictions looking to have their police and sheriff's deputies trained to process illegal immigrants in their jails has nearly doubled and will likely triple by the end of the year.
 
In addition, some 400,000 illegal immigrants ordered removed by judges but who were ignored under the Obama administration are now back on the list of priorities.
 
All of that means more illegal immigrants to be detained in preparation for deportation.
 
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, told Mr. Homan not to try deporting drunken drivers.  DWI or traffic is not really considered to be the type of people that are hurting our country,  he said.
Mr. Homan, though, said drunken driving sounds like a public safety risk.  "They should be removed," he said.
 
Mr. Homan said anyone in the country without authorization is a target for enforcement.  "We shouldn't wait for them to become a criminal," he said.
 
That angered immigrant rights advocates, who said it showed antipathy toward illegal immigrants.
 
"Wow. How revealing," said Frank Sharry, executive director at America's Voice. "Homan makes it clear that the ICE strategy is to indiscriminately target the entire undocumented population in America and to intentionally spread fear throughout millions of deeply rooted families."  He called Mr. Homan's testimony extremist.
 
Mr. Homan pushed back against such criticism. He said his agents are enforcing the laws as written and no other branch of law enforcement faces the abusive questions his employees do.
 
He said the illegal immigrants deserve the blame for separating families. When a U.S. citizen commits a crime and goes to jail, he said, the police who catch him aren't blamed for keeping him from his family.
 
Mr. Homan said the increased risk of enforcement is part of the reason illegal immigration across the southwestern border is at its lowest level in decades.
Democrats, though, said his officers need to show more discretion.
 
Ms. Lowey raised the case of a 19-year-old man in New York who was arrested on the day of his high school prom, which she said sent the wrong signal.
She said the man had kept out of trouble and was arrested while waiting at a bus stop for school.
 
Mr. Homen defended the arrest as valid. He said the young man committed a crime when he sneaked across the border and ignored an immigration judge's order to be removed.
 
"He lost his case, and because we don't like the results of that case we forget about it?'   Mr. Homan asked Ms. Lowey.  "I don't know where else in the American justice system any other agency is told to ignore a judge's ruling."

Victory in Texas: Governor Abbott Signs Anti-Sanctuary Bill

On Sunday, May 7, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed Senate Bill (SB) 4, strong anti-sanctuary legislation to promote public safety and ensure law enforcement is able to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials. (Texas Tribune, May 7, 2017) Texas is the second state to pass a state-wide anti-sanctuary law this year. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill into law outlawing sanctuary cities in March. (US News, Mar. 27, 2017)

Specifically, SB 4 prohibits state and local entities from adopting, enforcing, or endorsing policies that prohibit or materially limit the enforcement of immigration laws. (SB 4) Public university and college campuses are explicitly included in these requirements. (Id.) SB 4, however, does make an exception for local school districts, public health centers, and other community centers. (Id.) SB 4 also authorizes law enforcement to inquire into a person’s immigration status during a lawful investigation to a criminal offense. (Id.)

To ensure officers comply with the law, SB 4 subjects law enforcement officials with criminal, Class A misdemeanor, charges if they do not comply with detainers sent by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Id.) Additionally, localities or colleges who defiantly impose sanctuary policies may be subject to pay a fine, between $1,000 and $25,500 per day the policy is in place. (Id.)

Governor Abbott has consistently taken strong positions on immigration enforcement since taking office and made passing state-wide anti-sanctuary legislation a legislative priority for 2017. (FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 10, 2017; FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 7, 2017) “As governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said. (Reuters, May 8, 2017)

Texas has been on the front lines of the illegal immigration surge that expanded during the Obama Administration. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 5, 2017) Former President Obama’s lax enforcement policies encouraged record numbers of illegal alien minors and families from Central America to cross the southern border into Texas over recent years. (Id.) As a result, Texas taxpayers have fronted billions in costs associated illegal immigration, particularly with regard to law enforcement, education, and public benefits spending. (Id.)

OFIR launches STOP Oregon Sanctuaries ballot measure drive

Alert date: 
2017-05-01
Alert body: 

Oregonians for Immigration Reform announces the launching of a new initiative: Initiative Petition 22 -- "Stop Oregon Sanctuaries" - to be placed on the November 2018 statewide ballot.  OFIR is now collecting sponsorship signatures.

"Since 1987, Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820 has prevented Oregon's state and local law-enforcement agencies from offering their fullest cooperation to the U.S. authorities who seek to identify and detain illegal aliens," said OFIR president Cynthia Kendoll.  She stated further:

"The law has effectively rendered ours a 'sanctuary state' for those in the country illegally.  ORS 181A.820 undermines the rule of law generally and federal immigration law specifically, thwarts the enforcement efforts of the brave men and women who serve on our national-security front lines, and endangers innocent Americans and legal residents."

As an example of the latter, Kendoll noted last summer's murder of three people in Woodburn.  Bonifacio Oseguera-Gonzalez, an illegal alien who had been deported six times, is charged with this crime, is incarcerated and awaiting trial.  "If not for ORS 181A.820," Kendoll said, "Oseguera-Gonzalez might have been identified previously as an illegal alien by state or local police and deported by ICE."

OFIR vice president Richard LaMountain points out: "Illegal aliens can and do harm the very people to whom Oregon and its counties and cities owe their foremost responsibility: American citizens.  For this reason, enforcement of U.S. immigration law is not extrinsic, but central, to the duties of state and local law enforcement."

Besides the deaths and injuries to innocent citizens in Oregon caused by illegal aliens, there are significant fiscal costs to taxpayers for services to illegal aliens.

The current threshold for initiatives to be placed on the 2018 ballot is 88,184 signatures of registered Oregon voters, collected by July 2018.

Founded in 2000, Oregonians for Immigration Reform advocates ending illegal immigration and reducing the excessive levels of legal immigration.  In 2014, OFIR spearheaded the successful Ballot Measure 88 referendum by which Oregon voters rejected Senate Bill 833 that would have granted legal driving privileges to illegal aliens.

For further information about OFIR's goals and activities, see the website at:  http://www.oregonir.org.

Oregon's sanctuary law when passed in 1987 was cited as ORS 181.850.  It has subsequently been amended and is now cited as ORS 181A.820.

Pres. Trump's first 100 days make improvements to immigration enforcement and begin laying the groundwork for worker visa reforms

Tomorrow marks President Donald Trump's 100th day in office, and immigration has been a key component of his 100-day agenda. Thus far, Trump has solely relied on his executive powers to stem the tide of illegal border crossings and beef up interior enforcement. And while he's taken some good first steps in addressing legal immigration, he's yet to take strong action on protecting American workers from the steady flow of cheap foreign labor that drives down wages and increases job competition for workers.

THE HIGH POINTS

Past presidents and candidates have talked tough on immigration, but none have followed through on that tough talk. In fact, a clip from Bill Clinton's 1996 State of the Union Address is one of the most watched videos we've ever posted on our Facebook page (94 million views). But neither Clinton, George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama were ever committed to ending illegal immigration.

Candidate Trump used some of the toughest pro-enforcement language ever during his White House run, and we've already seen its impact. Border Apprehensions -- the measure used to determine overall illegal border crossings -- are at a 17-year low, and the administration has significantly stepped up interior enforcement efforts across the country.

In just his first week after being sworn in, Pres. Trump signed two Executive Orders aimed at securing the border and strengthening interior enforcement. Those Executive Orders called for:

  • Increases in Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents,
  • Increase in immigration judges,
  • Withholding visas from countries that refuse to repatriate deported aliens,
  • An end to catch-and-release,
  • The construction of more detention facilities for detained illegal aliens along the border,
  • Granting Border Patrol access to federal lands,
  • Ending Pres. Obama's Priority Enforcement Program (PEP),
  • Reinstating Secure Communities and encouraging increased participation from local police in immigration enforcement, and
  • Creation of an office for victims of illegal-alien crimes.

Trump needs money from Congress to accomplish a few of the above points, but his Administration has already moved forward on many of the points using existing funds.

LAYING THE GROUND WORK

Pres. Trump will need help from Congress on several more of his immigration priorities, but he's at least started the discussion on a few of them. Most notably, his FY2018 budget request to Congress asked for funding to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers. Congress will need to pass a mandatory E-Verify law to make that request a reality, but budget requests typically reveal the White House's policy priorities for the next fiscal year.

NumbersUSA believes requiring all employers to use E-Verify to end the jobs magnet is the single, strongest step that can be taken in ending illegal immigration and protecting American workers. But over the years, we have also advocated for full implementation of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 that requires double-layered, reinforced fencing along 700-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump's campaign mantra was to 'build the wall', and while the details of 'the wall' remain a bit fuzzy, he's continued to push for some sort of barrier construction along the border.

The Administration is also off to a good start at ending sanctuary policies. Both Pres. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have called for withholding federal funds from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. This week, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that withholding all federal funds from a sanctuary jurisdiction was unconstitutional, but ruled that it may be okay for the administration to withhold federal grants that require local law enforcement to cooperate with federal law enforcement. That's exactly what the Trump Administration aims to do.

There hasn't been much action on legal immigration, but the Trump Administration did step up its efforts in recent weeks on the H-1B issue. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have put tech employers on notice that any misuse of H-1B visas will be investigated, and Trump signed an executive order last week, calling for a review of the H-1B application process. Current federal regulations require that H-1B applications be awarded through a lottery process, but Trump has called for a new process that would award visas to the most skilled or highest paid applicants.

Pres. Trump has done little, yet, to address permanent, legal immigration, but he did include a strong statement in his Joint Address to Congress in February that called for reforming the current legal immigration system to a merit-based system that serves the national interest. He's also met with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to discuss their RAISE Act, which would end Chain Migration and the Visa Lottery and reduce overall immigration by up to 50%.

AREAS NEEDING ATTENTION

The Trump Administration has continued Obama's unconstitutional executive amnesty, DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump said he would end the program on Day 1 of his presidency, but one of his January Executive Orders, calling for a review of all of the Obama-era immigration orders, specifically excluded a review of DACA. While the renewals and decisions over what to do with the current DACA population may be more difficult, his Administration's refusal to stop issuing NEW work permits flies in the face of his clearly stated campaign promise on that issue.

Trump has also allowed the Optional Training Program (OPT) to continue. OPT allows foreign students who graduate from a U.S. college or university with a STEM degree to stay and work in the U.S. for up to two years. The program places recent American STEM students in direct competition with foreign students for jobs immediately after graduation. OPT was started by George W. Bush, expanded by Barack Obama, and has never been authorized by Congress. It would be easy for the Administration to eliminate the program.

Perhaps the most important immigration lesson of the first 100 days of the Trump Administration is that simply sending a strong message of enforcement is enough to begin to dramatically reduce illegal entries. That alone has been a tremendous success. Yes, there are some unfulfilled immigration-campaign promises and some areas that need more attention, but it's only been 100 days. There's clear evidence that immigration enforcement is improving, and there are hopeful signs that legal immigration reductions could be on the horizon.

 
 

 

Once celebrated, special driver's licenses stir anxiety among immigrants in California

AUBURN, Calif. -- Leticia Aceves remembers the fear of her first drive alone.

... in the country illegally with no driver's license, and little grasp of English or California's traffic laws...

"I was shaking all the way from my house... Aceves said.

Two years ago, driving got less stressful for Aceves and 850,000 other Californians who received driver's licenses under a state law meant to help immigrants living in the country illegally become more integrated into society.

Over the past decade, California has taken several steps to bring immigrants without legal status into the mainstream, including health care for the young and financial aid for college students.

....Being able to drive without fear of arrest has given immigrants access to more jobs and made them more confident drivers, they say....

But President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration has made those license holders anxious...

The issue facing undocumented immigrants in California isn't at play in Oregon. Since 2008, Oregon has required applicants for driver's licenses or permits to provide proof of citizenship.

In California, the decision to give driver's licenses to immigrants here illegally was hotly debated, and it took more than a decade to get the law passed. Critics continue to argue that it has legitimized illegal immigration....

The licenses are designed for people who cannot show proof of legal-resident status in the United States...

Still, the licenses have changed the lives of tens of thousands of people in California. Manuel Mesa remembers well the anxiety that came with driving illegally....

...When Mesa got a driver's license in 2015, he became more inclined to challenge police if he felt his rights were being violated. He also said learning traffic laws in preparation for the exam made him more confident behind the wheel...

More important, the license helped him get a better job. Mesa applied for a commercial driver's license and now works as a big-rig driver, hauling wood, computers, foods and other products.

Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman, said that although the department makes "databases available to law-enforcement entities," that information would not include the legal status of license holders. She said state laws forbid police from discriminating based on a person showing an AB-60 license.

ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said investigators could use information from the DMV in the course of criminal investigations, but that "ICE does not use data from the DMV to identify immigration enforcement targets."

This month, though, the American Civil Liberties Union released documents that it contends show that Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicles coordinated with ICE last year. The record included emails between ICE and the Vermont DMV in which immigration agents asked that the legal status of certain drivers be checked, said James Lyall, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont.

Vermont is one of 12 states and the District of Columbia where unauthorized immigrants can obtain driver's licenses.

The Trust Act in California offers a measure of protection, said Daniel Sharp, the legal director at the Central American Resource Center, a community organization that helps immigrants get licenses, among other programs. That law makes it harder for state and local law enforcement officials to hold immigrants who have committed minor crimes for pickup by ICE agents.

In this climate of fear, Sharp said, it's unlikely that immigrants who have waited this long will apply for a license.

Proponents of California's law argue that licensing immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally has made roads safer...

A recent study by Stanford researchers showed that hit-and-run cases were increasing more slowly because licensed drivers are less likely to flee the scene of a crime.

But critics such as Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation say issuing the licenses to such immigrants legitimizes their presence in the country and makes it easier for them to stay. Even though the license looks different and has specific limitations, von Spakovsky said, it "makes it easier for them to use this government-issued ID for many illegal purposes, such as applying for government benefits or registering to vote."

Pendleton City Council declines sanctuary city status

The City Council took no action on the mostly symbolic measure of making Pendleton a sanctuary city.

At a Tuesday meeting, city resident Shaindel Beers asked the council to declare Pendleton a sanctuary city by adopting an American Civil Liberties Union-endorsed list of nine policies and rules that limited local police cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

Beers’ request only drew public support from city councilor Scott Fairley, whose motion to adopt the policies died from a lack of a second.

In her presentation, Beers said that although Oregon is already considered a “sanctuary state,” adopting the ACLU’s policies and rules would send a message to undocumented immigrants that Pendleton was a safe and inclusive place.

“A scared population isn’t a safe population,” she said. “If we can make people feel safe and included we would be a better community and a community that people would be proud to be a part of.”

Beers, an English instructor at Blue Mountain Community College, said BMCC already had “safe spaces” on campus, although she was unaware if any other cities in Eastern Oregon had adopted the ACLU’s list.

Thanks to state law, police chief Stuart Roberts told the council that the city was already practicing many of the policies and rules listed by the ACLU.

Roberts said the exception was a rule that required immigration enforcement agents to always wear duty jackets and make their badges visible at all times while in city facilities.

He added that officers don’t usually detain suspects in the police department and rarely come into contact with immigration enforcement.

Roberts said adopting the ACLU policies wouldn’t affect how Pendleton police conduct business or the department’s budget, meaning he didn’t have a strong opinion on the list one way or the other.

Councilor John Brenne worried that President Donald Trump’s threats to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities would hurt Pendleton.

Both Roberts and city attorney Nancy Kerns were unsure if the Trump administration would legally be able to level punitive measures against sanctuary cities.

Sometimes the council’s deliberations resembled glass half-empty or glass half-full argument. While Fairley thought there was no downside to adopting the ACLU policies, councilor Neil Brown saw no upside.

Ultimately, Beers’ request couldn’t find enough supporters on the council besides Fairley and the council took no action.
 

'Anti-Sanctuary' Legislation Brewing in Oregon

House Bill 2921 would repeal Oregon’s sanctuary state law and mandate that Oregon law enforcement agencies assist in federal immigration enforcement. The bill would also prohibit cities and counties from establishing sanctuary protections.

But Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Independence, who is one of the bill’s chief sponsors, says he doesn’t expect HB 2921 to receive a hearing, instead Nearing is working on a petition to make the repeal a ballot measure to put before the voters in 2018.

Nearman says he doesn’t like that the state’s sanctuary law prohibits Oregon law officers from enforcing federal immigration laws. “I think that we just need to be able to enforce the laws just for their own sake just because we don’t need illegal people running around our country,” he tells Eugene Weekly.

Meanwhile, on March 13, the Eugene City Council voted unanimously to adopt a sanctuary-type ordinance to protect immigrants and Eugene residents. The “Protections for Individuals” ordinance prohibits city staff and operations from utilizing “city resources for purposes of enforcing federal immigration law unless related to a criminal offense,” according to a city news release.

Eugene Human Rights Commission Chair Ken Neubeck says the ordinance was passed in case any changes — such as the ones Nearman proposes — are made to the state’s sanctuary law. “This is an ordinance, not a resolution, resolutions are much less powerful and ordinances are permanent.”

The ordinance, which goes into effect 30 days after the vote, includes a provision that forbids the city from tracking people’s political, social, religious activities. Neubeck says this is a preventative measure in case the federal government attempts to create a registry.

Nearman says states should be “responsible for everything they can possibly be responsible for.” The framers of the Constitution “envisioned a federal government that had limited powers and everything else was left to the people,” he adds.

Contrary to the small-government ideology of the Republican Party, relinquishing the state’s sanctuary law would give more power to the federal government. Section two of the proposed bill states: “A law enforcement agency of the state of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state may use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

Illegal immigration, Nearman says, is a problem. “I think by some estimates it costs the state of Oregon $1.2 billion a year for illegal aliens,” he says. “I’m on the budget committee for my school district, and we spend a lot of money to teach students who don’t speak English.”

 Nearman credits that estimate to “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Oregonians,” a report published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The report claims Oregonians pay $1 billion per year for “illegal aliens and their children,” and cites one of its own prior studies. One resource listed in the study cites “constitutional scholars” without listing any names.

FAIR is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR’s founder John Tanton corresponded with a FAIR donor suggesting that she “read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to ‘give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life’ — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews,” according to the SPLC.

SPLC has documented more than twenty years of Tanton’s ties with “Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers, including Jared Taylor (who wrote in 2005, ‘When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears’).”

Asked if Nearman knew about FAIR being a designated hate group, he replied, “I don’t put much stock in the Southern Poverty Law Center. The bar to being designated as a hate group is pretty low for them. I stand by my data.”

Nearman adds that Oregon needs guest workers. “I’m a software engineer by trade, so my last job, we had people who were in some status of legal-ness working, but they weren’t citizens or anything like that, and that’s fine,” he says. “We do that as we have needs and as we can vet people.”

Money is also a concern when relocating Syrian immigrants to the U.S., according to Nearman, who suggests the federal government is spending 12 times as much bringing refugees to the United States as it would cost to resettle them “somewhere in the Middle East.”

On Feb. 15, Oregon House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson released a statement saying she was “appalled” at the House Republicans’ proposed legislation: “At a time when we should be extending a hand of compassion to those fleeing violence or hardship, HB 2921 would instead prevent the state or local communities from choosing to protect their residents.”

Nearman and the bill’s only other sponsor, Rep. Sal Esquivel, a Republican from Medford, are also pursuing a ballot initiative on the issue. They gathered 1,346 signatures on Oct. 20, surpassing the minimum requirement of 1,000 to get a ballot title. A total of 88,184 signatures would be needed for the petition to be placed on the ballot to be decided on by voters.

Nearman did not bring up the petition during an interview. An additional request for a comment was not answered.

EW reached out to Rep. Sal Esquivel on Feb. 23. An unsigned email from his account responded, “Thank you but at this time Rep. Esquivel is not available for an interview with Eugene Weekly.” A second email asking Esquivel once more for an interview did not receive a response.

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