Letters and Op-Eds

Welcome to the OFIR Letters and Op-Eds section.  Here you can read Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds that have been published in various newspapers and news sources.

Jerry Ritter
The Register Guard
September 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Van Staaveren
August 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

Richard F. LaMountain
August 15, 2017

Oregon's population already tops 4 million. Between 2015 and 2016, Portland State University's Population Research Center has calculated, that population grew by more than 62,000, or 1.6 percent - a rate that will double the number of people here in slightly more than 40 years.

A half-century ago, Oregon Gov. Tom McCall had a message for residents of neighboring states. "Come visit us," he implored. "But for heaven's sake, don't come here to live."

McCall understood that a rapidly expanding population would stress the state's air, water and land. But today's "environmentalists?" Not only do they eschew sustainable population growth, they champion that part of the population whose presence here is the most preventable — and violates U.S. law to boot.

In a recent joint statement, Doug Moore and Erica Stock — representing, respectively, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club's Oregon chapter — lambasted the efforts of Oregonians for Immigration Reform to stem illegal immigration to our state. "How can we not welcome," they asked, the illegal immigrants "who move in search of a better life?"

Here are some answers to their question.

Already, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated, some 170,000 illegal immigrants reside in Oregon.

Their impact? "One acre of natural habitat or farmland is converted to built-up space or highway for each person added to the U.S. population," reports the Carrying Capacity Network, which advocates for sustainable U.S. population levels. Every additional person in our country, environmental scientist Peter H. Gleick has estimated, uses 1,600 cubic meters of fresh water annually. And every added car, notes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year."

Oregon's population already tops 4 million. Between 2015 and 2016, Portland State University's Population Research Center has calculated, that population grew by more than 62,000, or 1.6 percent — a rate that will double the number of people here in slightly more than 40 years. Absent restraints, the illegal immigration championed by Moore and Stock will exacerbate the growth that will degrade our air quality, stress our water supplies, and eat up ever more undeveloped and arable land.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform has worked successfully to deter illegal immigration to our state. In 2014, OFIR spearheaded the ballot measure via which two-thirds of voting Oregonians rejected the Legislature's attempt to grant state driving privileges to illegal immigrants — privileges which would have drawn even more of them here.

This summer, OFIR activists are collecting signatures to put Initiative Petition 22 onto the November 2018 statewide ballot. If they succeed, Oregonians will have a chance to repeal the state law that keeps police and sheriffs from offering their full help to federal immigration authorities — a law that has made our state an inviting destination for illegal immigrants.

Were he alive today, David Brower, the Sierra Club's first executive director, likely would have supported OFIR's efforts. "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of that problem," he stated flatly. "You don't have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy." Moore and Stock endorse a population policy that encourages unbounded illegal immigration. What does that say about their commitment to a clean, sustainable, liveable Oregon?

One can't be both pro-environment and pro-illegal immigration. Even if their "leaders" don't understand this, many rank-and-file members of OLCV and the Sierra Club doubtless do. They should join with members of Oregonians for Immigration Reform to help reduce illegal immigration to our state.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren
August 13, 2017

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

The Center for Immigration Studies has issued a five-page fact sheet on immigration enforcement and community policing which shows there is no evidence of a "chilling effect" from local police cooperation with ICE. New DOJ testimony confirms that claim is spurious. Legislators should put the safety and well-being of citizens FIRST, not dream up protections for illegal aliens such as HB 3464, "Privacy" for illegal aliens. Every Democrat in the Oregon Legislature but one, (Sen. Betsy Johnson), voted to put the "privacy" of illegal aliens above the interests of citizens. Illegal, unlimited, unrestricted immigration will quickly destroy a nation. ICE is responsible for interior enforcement of our immigration laws. We owe ICE agents full cooperation and encouragement to do the job. They should be thanked for their difficult, dangerous work on the public's behalf.

President Trump is trying to rectify out-of-control immigration resulting from the policies of previous administrations. Help him and ICE; don't put road blocks in the way.

Billy J. Williams
The Oregonian
August 6, 2017

A man who successfully evaded detection and detention by immigration officials is charged with assaulting two innocent women in Portland; his alleged crimes are tragic. That he was able to commit the alleged crimes at all defies the law and insults common sense.

Let me be clear: I am addressing the problem of illegal aliens who commit criminal acts in our state. This is not about lawful alien residents or even about illegal aliens who simply come to Oregon to work. The reality is that criminals who are here illegally are being released into communities throughout the state on a daily basis. Some of these illegal aliens commit more crimes, and because of Oregon's "sanctuary" declaration, those aliens are not being arrested and prosecuted for violating federal immigration laws.

Oregon sheriffs and other law enforcement officers are caught in the middle of a highly politicized local and national debate over immigration policy. They are not to blame. Their jobs are more difficult as a result of the conflict between state and federal law.

In an effort to cure this impasse, we began meeting with federal, state and local law enforcement partners in 2015...The goal? To reestablish our common interest in crime prevention and protecting our communities. To accomplish this, we must share information. We must communicate.

Right now, there are sheriffs who do not notify U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement when they arrest illegal aliens. Some sheriffs do not disclose basic identifying information such as booking photos, fingerprints, and addresses. Some sheriffs, even after receiving an ICE detainer, will not notify ICE of an impending release....

Some sheriffs suggest that, short of ICE agents obtaining a federal criminal arrest warrant, they do not have any legal obligation to share information or hold an individual in custody who is subject to a detainer. This requirement is inherently unreasonable as illegal aliens are frequently held for only a matter of hours. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to obtain a federal criminal arrest warrant without basic identifying information.

Simply put, Oregon's sanctuary status declaration directly contravenes federal immigration law and threatens public safety....

Two weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new immigration compliance requirements for recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Programs.

The Byrne JAG grant program is the primary source of federal criminal justice funds for state and local jurisdictions and it provides millions of dollars annually for police and sheriffs in Oregon. 

Under the new compliance provisions, program participants are required to communicate with ICE, allow ICE agents access to detention facilities to meet with aliens held in custody, and provide at least 48 hours advance notice of any scheduled alien releases. As a result, federal funding for local law enforcement in Oregon is at risk.

My fear is that if our community cannot overcome this politicized legal impasse, we'll be witness to more preventable crimes. This problem is fixable; we must stop pretending it is not.

The law enforcement community in Oregon enjoys a remarkable history of working together in multi-jurisdictional partnerships...

I invite community leaders and our partners in law enforcement to join us in adopting a pragmatic approach to immigration enforcement.

We need to stand up and work together for public safety. Our communities deserve leadership.

Billy J. Williams is the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Michael Perrault
August 3, 2017

I find it despicable that Multnomah County knowingly refused to inform Immigrations and Custom Enforcement regarding the detainment of Sergio Jose Martinez back in December 2016 ("Federal immigration agency lodged detainer on man accused of NE Portland attacks," July 31). According to various news articles, Martinez has been deported 20 times, has been arrested multiple times for a variety of offenses, and is a known methamphetamine user. And, now he has been charged with several crimes including first-degree robbery, sex abuse and second-degree assault. Maybe, had the county enforced ICE regulations, his victim would have been spared these horrors. I am encouraging her to sue the county for $1 million to get county leaders' attention on this vital matter.

Now, if convicted, the taxpayers of Oregon will be forced to spend more money taking care of this criminal. When do we say enough is enough?

The Register-Guard
July 10, 2017

I realize the proposed ordinance described in the July 9 article, “County to take up immigration protections,” reflects Oregon state laws recently passed, and this one focuses on not using county funds to enforce immigration law. But the article’s headline reflects the real truth: It’s not about money and wise use of taxpayer funds. This ordinance is a political statement relating to our federal immigration law.

As I thought about the proposed ordinance, I can only assume it would prohibit a county employee who for whatever reason discovered or suspected a person was in the United States illegally from simply calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities to report that fact. In fact, even if employees waited until they were off duty to make the call, it might result in their termination or worse.

So, to sum up, Lane County and the state of Oregon are essentially making it illegal for a county employee to report a federal crime to federal law enforcement. And my property taxes are being used to support that.


Frank W. Brown
The Register Guard
July 10, 2017

Wow, Democrats in Oregon have shown that they are the party of death.

Now, you, Mr. and Mrs. Real U.S./Oregon Citizen, get to pay for abortions for those that aren’t even U.S. citizens.

Makes sense, right? Have you ever wondered why every year the Democrats ask for more and more money? Have you ever wondered why it’s never enough? (It’s a spending problem.)

Have you ever wondered why illegal aliens will be protected and given benefits that you pay for?

Looks to me like the rule of law is out the window in Oregon.

On another matter, now anyone and everyone has the ability to take your guns without any recourse on your part by virtue of our new extreme risk protection order, which doesn’t need any proof that you are dangerous — and you don’t get to defend yourself against these hearsay claims.

Yep, Oregon has been totally Californicated.

The Register Guard
July 5, 2017

The July 3 letter from Anthony Wadnizak, “Why pay for illegal aliens,” is right on the money. What about the taxpayers here legally having to pay for them and their babies? I’m aware of women coming to America expecting a baby that’s infected with Zika. She delivers here, and guess what? That baby can now get Social Security disability, approximately $1,000 monthly for the rest of its life.

The illegals refuse to learn English and demand free everything. Sanctuary cities blame us because we may deport some and separate families. No, the people choose to come here illegally; it’s their fault, not ours. Some say we have no one else to pick our crops. If so, what, pray tell, are the 20 to 30 million illegals doing here, then, but taking jobs from the American citizens?

This is why I voted for Donald Trump. We have to drain the swamp (people who take care of illegals better than our U.S. citizens). Let’s unite against illegals. We need to fight this.

Pete Dane
Statesman Journal
June 27, 2017

The front-page article on June 21, "State moves to bolster sanctuary status," doesn't mention the side effects from Oregon's lenient policies that facilitate illegal immigration and residency.

One of obstacles of balancing the state budget is increased education costs. There has been a steady rise in enrollment for "English as a second language" courses in public schools. It increases a student's education costs about $1,700 annually.

Oregon, like California, has been a prime destination for human traffickers, and for persons who simply take a tourist flight to Oregon.

They then disappear into the crowd, and start a family to improve their immunity. Work is readily available at the rural farms and somewhat decadent vineyards.

California now has an Hispanic population majority, and it's projected Oregon may do the same in another 20 years.

It's facilitated by state-sponsored social programs and is ethnic preferential treatment.

It's altruistic to help out the disadvantaged, yet the growing and displaced homeless population is mostly ignored.

What ever happened to accountability, personal responsibly and the merit system?