Oregon Legislature

Oregon driver cards: Immigrants sue to reverse Measure 88 defeat

SALEM — A group of Mexican immigrants is suing to reverse a decision by Oregon voters on a 2014 ballot measure that prevents undocumented immigrants from getting Oregon driver cards.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, the plaintiffs said the outcome of Measure 88 is unconstitutional because it "arbitrarily" denies driving privileges "to Plaintiffs and others based on their membership in a disfavored minority group."

The plaintiffs also say the referendum was "motivated in substantial part by animus toward persons from Mexico and Central America,"...

The lawsuit comes nearly a year after Oregon voters resoundingly defeated Measure 88,...

"It was an overwhelming rejection of giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens," said Jim Ludwick, communications director for Oregonians for Immigration Reform. "but somehow that doesn't apply to people who are here illegally and think the law doesn't apply to them." 

The measure was a reaction to Senate Bill 833, which passed in the 2013 legislative session with support from Democrats and a few moderate and rural Republicans. Then-Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps before a raucous crowd of 2,000 people.

But the law never took effect as opponents quickly organized a campaign to refer it to the ballot.

Since 2008, Oregon has required applicants for a driver's license or permit to provide proof of citizenship...

"It's reached a crisis point for families because they don't have a solution,"...

The five Mexican immigrants, identified only by their initials in court documents, are joined by two Latino nonprofits, Familias En Acción and Los Niños Cuentan, as plaintiffs in the case....

Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, said the state is reviewing the case but declined to comment further.

— Ian K. Kullgren


 

OFIR's Pizza and Politics event packs the house

Three special guest speakers and yummy pizza drew a packed house for OFIR's Pizza and Politics meeting Saturday, October 10th.

Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier, Representative Mike Nearman (an OFIR Board member) and Representative Greg Baretto spoke on a number of immigration related topics.  Visit the OFIR photo gallery.

 

It's time for PIZZA and POLITICS - OFIR meeting, Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2:00pm

Alert date: 
2015-09-29
Alert body: 

Please join us Saturday, October 10 at 2:00pm at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn in Salem, OR and get caught up with what's happening locally and across the country in immigration politics all while enjoying some delicious pizza.

Donald Trump, like him or not, has blown the lid off the immigration conversation and in so doing has forced candidates to address the immigration issue head on....finally!

Because of Trump's campaign trail comments and his surge in the polls because of those comments, OFIR and immigration organizations and activists across the country are in a phenomenal position to make real headway in stemming the flow of illegal aliens into our country.

At the meeting, special guest Oregon Republican Chairman Bill Currier will be there to explain how the ORP plans to actively face down the immigration issues we struggle with here in Oregon.

Representative Mike Nearman and Representative Greg Baretto will be joining us to explain what's happening in the Oregon Legislature.

OFIR has been busy working to advance 2 initiatives. We will be talking about our progress on both of them and how you can help.

OFIR and our fantastic members and friends must be ready with renewed energy and resources to take advantage of the opportunities before us and to tackle the important challenges we will be facing in this coming election year.

Please consider bringing along a contribution to OFIR and take advantage of our $15,000 matching grant?


 

Dems defy Oregon voters on funding illegal immigrants

by Richard F. LaMountain

What will it take for the Legislature’s Democratic majority to heed Oregonians’ will?

Last year, via Ballot Measure 88, Oregon voters rejected the illegal-immigrant driver cards the Legislature approved in 2013.  The magnitude of that rejection — the margin was almost two-to-one — made clear: the vote transcended the issue of driver cards to constitute a broad mandate against state-government benefits for illegal immigrants.

In the 2015 session, however, the Democratic majority legislated as though Measure 88’s outcome had been the opposite — passing laws, indeed, that give many illegal immigrants a better shot at taxpayer-funded educational aid than most American citizens.

Senate Bill 932, which Gov. Kate Brown signed Aug. 12, credentials certain illegal immigrants — those who entered the United States as minors and graduated from Oregon high schools — to compete against U.S. citizens for need-based Oregon Opportunity Grants to the state’s colleges.  And to aid them in doing so, House Bill 2407, which Brown signed in early July, gives them race-based preferences over American students seeking the same.

How?  HB 2407’s text authorizes the state Office of Student Access and Completion to “prioritize awarding Oregon Opportunity Grants to qualified students . . . whose circumstances would enhance the promotion of equity guidelines published by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.”  Those guidelines, wrote Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, in Eugene’s Register-Guard newspaper, are based upon an “equity lens” whose purpose is to maximize “funding for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.”

And foremost among those “underrepresented” groups?  Illegal-immigrant youths, who are overwhelmingly Hispanic — a fact which will, thanks to HB 2407, give them preference for Oregon Opportunity Grants over white and, in many cases, Asian-American applicants.

What possessed the Legislature’s Democratic majority to pass laws that so blatantly contradict Oregonians’ clear mandate against benefits for illegal immigrants?

Answer: A radical, dogmatic belief that illegal immigrants should enjoy the rights and privileges of American citizens — a belief outlined in a June letter to Salem’s Statesman Journal newspaper signed by all 35 House Democrats.  “Keeping our state a great place to live — a place where all working families have a chance to get ahead and where everyone is treated equally — will require us to reject the poisonous idea that some families matter more than others,” the letter proclaimed.  “All Oregonians deserve to be treated with respect and humanity, regardless of their . . . citizenship status.”

And for the Legislature’s majority party, evidently, such “respect and humanity” require favoring illegal-immigrant students over American youths for taxpayer-funded educational grants.

What the Democrats miss: Whatever the circumstances of their arrival here, illegal immigrants are not, as the House majority caucus asserts, “Oregonians.”  They are, rather, foreign nationals here in violation of U.S. immigration law — law that was instituted by the American people via the representatives they elected to Congress.  And when Oregon’s Democratic Legislature grants benefits to those illegal immigrants, it undermines the interests of the Americans to whom it owes its foremost responsibility — the Americans, indeed, who via Ballot Measure 88 signaled their overwhelming opposition to such benefits.

In 2016, voters should elect a new majority party to the state Legislature — one which will respect both the electoral mandates and the interests of Oregon’s U.S. citizens.

Richard F. LaMountain is a former vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and served as a chief petitioner of Ballot Measure 88, the 2014 referendum via which Oregon voters rejected illegal-immigrant driver cards.

A $15,000 matching grant spurs donor contributions - don't miss your opportunity to double your contribution!

Alert date: 
2015-10-13
Alert body: 

Contributions are rolling in - don't miss your opportunity to DOUBLE your contribution - up to $15,000 total!

A matching grant will help OFIR fight to STOP illegal immigration here in Oregon and across the country.

Our generous donor will match your contributions to OFIR of any size up to $15,000 total!  Imagine that - if you contribute $20 it magically becomes $40 or contribute $100 and it magically becomes a $200 contribution! 

OFIR fought very hard to defeat Ballot Measure 88 and our resources are running low.  Your contribution now will help OFIR stay in the game during the critical, upcoming election cycle.

Please consider a generous contribution today and double your money.  This wonderful opportunity just doesn't happen every day!

OFIR appreciates each and every one of our members.  We understand that some of you may not be able to contribute financially.  There are lots of things you can do to help http://www.oregonir.org/how-you-can-help-ofir

But, we hope that those of you that can, will dig deep and give generously.  We need your help now - and your contribution to OFIR will be doubled - up to $15,000.  It's a WIN - WIN!

You can also go online http://www.oregonir.org/donate-ofir to contribute or mail your contribution to:

OFIR

PO Box 7354

Salem, OR 97303

Thank you!

Don't miss out on this GREAT OPPORTUNITY to double your contribution to OFIR!

Last weekend for the 150th Oregon State Fair!

Alert date: 
2015-08-29
Alert body: 

Don't miss out on the fun!  Plan to attend the Oregon State Fair  running through Labor Day.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) is hosting a booth at the State Fair again this year.  We encourage you to drop by and say hello, we are located in the Jackman Long building.  Learn more about what's happening here in Oregon and across the country and meet a State Rep. and Senator or a talk show host or any of our other wonderful volunteers!  Visit our photo gallery!

If you have not yet joined OFIR, we encourage you to do so.  It has been decades since the immigration issue has attracted such attention.
 

Changes to tuition act prove doubters right

A significant bipartisan majority of the 2013 Legislative Assembly voted to enact House Bill 2787, which became known as the “Tuition Equity Act.” It established in-state tuition eligibility for students who demonstrate the intent to become United States citizens and who met certain previous attendance requirements in schools both in Oregon and other U.S. states and territories.

The Legislative Fiscal Office’s report on the bill estimated that only 38 undocumented alien students would access the opportunity to pay in-state tuition to attend an Oregon university during the 2013-15 budget period, and that 80 students would participate during the 2015-17 biennium. The Act didn’t affect Oregon community colleges, because they do not have residency requirements.

Tuition Equity Act supporters argued it would cause minimal cost to Oregon taxpayers. They further implied they would neither ask for future eligibility expansion for in-state tuition nor request financial aid eligibility for undocumented alien students. I voted against HB 2787 — not least because I didn’t believe their words.

University and community college students who are neither United States citizens nor eligible non-citizens are ineligible for federal grant-in-aid programs. Undocumented aliens are prohibited from even filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. However, Oregon’s own taxpayer-funded grant-in-aid program for college students, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, is not constrained by federal law.

The Legislature’s Democratic majority enacted Senate Bill 932 this year, on party-line votes. It significantly enlarged the number of undocumented aliens who are eligible for in-state tuition. Further, the bill created new eligibility for Oregon undocumented alien university and community college students to receive Oregon-funded grant-in-aid and student loans.

I believe this bill will serve as a beacon for undocumented alien students to come to Oregon for what amounts to a free college education at the expense of Oregon taxpayers.

The Legislative Fiscal Office’s report on SB 932 estimates that as many as 1,000 undocumented alien students may receive Opportunity Grants the first year, and that as many as 4,000 may be participating within four years. At only $1,000 per term, the cost could reach $12 million per year. The fiscal report doesn’t appear to contemplate my predicted in-migration of students.

Not only does SB 932 make undocumented alien students eligible for Oregon taxpayer-paid tuition and expenses, it likely gives them preference over documented resident citizens. According to the bill’s fiscal report, grants and loans for unauthorized immigrants “may be skewed towards an expected family contribution rate of zero or close to zero, which would give this population a higher priority for grant awards.”

The Democratic majority further amended the existing program by enacting House Bill 2407. It ensures that the state will make grants to students with the highest financial need and, where possible, prioritize funding for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. That priority will be based upon an “equity lens” established through Oregon Education Investment Board rulemaking. The “equity lens” appears to be focused on contributing financial aid to low-income undocumented alien students.

Democrats further amended the statute to include “foundations of community colleges” that distribute money to community colleges in the program.

Another bill, House Bill 3063, was created specifically to increase the number of under-served, low-income and first-generation college-bound students who enroll in community college and make progress toward a degree or certificate. This, too, appears to be focused on impoverished, first-generation and perhaps undocumented immigrants. It appropriates $3 million in general fund dollars to that program.

Many legislators who voted for the Tuition Equity Act in 2013 rightly feel betrayed. Assurances that their votes would not open the floodgates for undocumented alien students to attend Oregon colleges and universities with taxpayer-funded Opportunity Grants were insincere. Egregiously, some legislators contend they’re unable to remember making those assurances. So much for an open and transparent legislative process.

Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, represents District 28 in the Oregon Senate.

Lawmakers clear grants for undocumented students

SALEM — Oregon lawmakers have cleared the way for state grants for Oregon university students who were brought to the United States as children but lack immigration papers.

Gov. Kate Brown will receive Senate Bill 932 after the Senate voted 17-12 on Friday for the final version. The House approved it, 34-25, on the previous day.

With the exception of one Democrat in the Senate, the votes were along party lines ...

The House vote followed a verbal dust-up between a supporter and opponents of the bill.

According to state estimates, a maximum of 1,000 such students would be eligible for Oregon Opportunity Grants — and that 350 of them were likely to obtain them.

Rep. Joe Gallegos, D-Hillsboro, said about 75 students are enrolled at state universities under the terms of 2013 legislation allowing them to qualify for in-state tuition rates if they meet specified requirements....

The two-year budget for Oregon Opportunity Grants will be increased by 24 percent, to $141 million. According to estimates, 84,000 students will receive average grants of $1,650.

But a couple of the five Republicans who voted for the 2013 in-state tuition law said they believed it would not extend to eligibility for state financial assistance.

“We are going to do now what we said was not going to happen,” said Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn.

The bill received no Republican votes, and Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose was the only Democrat in opposition...

The House debate was interrupted when Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, criticized the opposition voiced by some of his colleagues as he spoke in favor of the bill. His remarks triggered a response by Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, who had just spoken against the bill.

A House rule says: “In speaking, the member must confine discussion to the question under debate, avoid personalities and not impugn the motives of another member's vote or argument.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, spoke after a timeout lasting several minutes, during which members of both parties attempted to calm things.

“I want to point out that it is really important not to impugn or infer someone’s motives here on this floor,” Kotek said. “I want to say that the member from East Multnomah County was inappropriate in what he was saying.”

Gorsek then rose and said: “I understand that I did something extremely inappropriate“ and I am extremely embarrassed by that.”
 

'Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio draws supporters, foes in Salem

The issue for some was simply about respect for U.S. laws, the nation's sovereignty and secure borders.

For others, it was a rejection what they saw as hatred. What seemed clear even before the rally started was that few would find any middle ground.

About 100 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Saturday for a rally to hear Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, speak about immigration, drugs, gun laws, taxes and getting tough on crime.

The event was sponsored by the Oregon Republican Party.

Also in front of the Capitol, but across the street, about three times as many people gathered in protest of Arpaio, who is known for his conservative stances on immigration and hard-line policing.

Now 81, Arpaio has been sheriff for 23 years of the county that contains Phoenix and the 13th-largest metropolitan area in the nation.

During his 40-minute speech, Arpaio spoke of illegal immigration as an economic, diplomatic, and political problem. He joked about how the crowd across Court Street could have arrived at Capitol, prompting laughter from those crowded onto the steps.

While the counter-ralliers waited for the speech to start, they chanted "no hate in our state," and "love your neighbor."

Yrma Hernandez, a "40-something" Salem resident was among the counter-rally crowd and said she attended the event in the 90-plus-degree weather to support farmworkers.

"I'm here to support all the people who work hard for us in the fields," Hernandez said. "They deserve a chance to work, too — a chance to have work permits and green cards."

Arpaio, who is known as "America's Toughest Sheriff," has implemented some controversial programs and regulations — like chain gangs, two daily meals in jails instead of three, and a "tent city" where inmates reside in military surplus tents.

Hillsboro resident Brad Toman stood on the Capitol steps holding a full-sized American flag.

"I'm here today because I support the sovereignty of our nation and a secure border," Toman said. "The government doesn't seem to support us in enforcing immigration laws."

Toman said he became politically active when Oregon driver cards became an issue and said he was happy that 66 percent of Oregonians were against it.

"It showed me that there's a big silent majority here in Oregon," Toman said. "And I'm a bit disappointed in the number here on this side of the street, and the tact of those across the way.

"The signs they're holding refer to race. Immigration isn't about race at all. They play the race card because it's inflammatory."

Ruben Zamora, 25, was one of the few who crossed Court Street and ascend the steps.

"They called me a terrorist," Zamora said, who was wearing a plastic mask. "I said, 'Jesus commanded us to love one another.' All this hate creates a gut-wrenching feeling for me."

As part of the rally, three pairs of pink underwear were raffled as prizes. The garments' significance relates to Arpaio's tactic after several pairs of white underwear were stolen from the Arizona jail.

After the thefts, Arpaio had jail underwear dyed pink, reasoning that those who turned up wearing the pink underwear in release sweeps could be identified as thieves.

Hernandez said she didn't appreciate Arpaio's presence in Oregon.

"Joe needs to take his pink underwear back home with him," Hernandez said. "We don't need them here."

As Arpaio stepped away from the podium, he reminded the crowd of why he was there and chants from across the street continued.

"This is the greatest country in the world," Arpaio said. "Some things I do are controversial, and that draws a lot of national attention, but the most important thing is to remember that this greatest country in the world."
 

Undocumented student grant measure clears Senate

SALEM — State grants could go to college students who were brought to the United States as children but lack immigration papers under a bill that cleared the Oregon Senate on Thursday.

The 17-11 vote, largely along party lines, moved Senate Bill 932 to the House.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Democrat from Portland and the bill’s chief sponsor, said that based on estimates, ...350 of them were likely to get them.

Given that lawmakers have boosted funds in the next two-year budget cycle to make grants available to 13,000 more students, Dembrow said the 350 would be a small share.

“They are exactly the kind of kids we should be investing in,” Dembrow said. “Most of these kids have lived here all of these years and they deserve a shot.”

But Dembrow, a community college instructor, acknowledged that his sponsorship of the bill is a shift from two years ago, when as chairman of a House committee, he was floor manager of the bill that allowed in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.

Dembrow said then that the 2013 bill, which became law, did not open the way for state aid to these students — unlike SB 932.

Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, spokesman and former president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, made a pointed comment about Dembrow’s 2013 remarks in written testimony filed for a June 15 budget subcommittee hearing.

“I remember nudging the person next to me and saying wait two years,” Ludwick wrote. “Here we are just two years later and the same advocates now want to do just that.”...

...If the House passes SB 932, Oregon would join California, Washington and some other states that allow state aid.
 

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