agriculture

Let's Start Debunking Immigration Myths

There are common sense, fact-based ways to fix immigration in U.S.

Taxpayers are subsidizing big business and a desire for cheap labor at a massive cost to society.

HOLDEN — Our media is inundated with political narrative, misinformation and myths on immigration. A few examples:

 Reducing immigration is “anti-immigrant” and “right-wing.”

 Only Trumpites oppose sanctuary cities.

Last October, the Obama Justice Department announced that cities would receive federal law enforcement grants only if they fully complied with federal immigration reporting laws. The current administration is continuing this policy. In addition, 80 percent of Americans oppose sanctuary policies, and even in hyper-blue California, a majority felt that cities should not be allowed to refuse to cooperate with federal authorities.

 Immigrants pay taxes.

The National Academy of Sciences was clear: Immigrants are currently a huge fiscal drain. In 2013, the fiscal deficit – taxes paid minus services used – was $279 billion. But why? They work hard. Their wages are low because most are unskilled. Bottom line: Taxpayers are subsidizing cheap labor for the employers.

• If illegal immigrants left, our produce would rot in the fields.

Alabama’s agricultural output rose in the three years after passage of its “draconian” immigration law. In addition, the H2A visa program, which allows farmers to employ foreign guest workers, has no caps. There’s no excuse for any illegal workers picking our produce.

• We need immigrants to “do the jobs Americans won’t do.”

Nobel economist Paul Krugman: “The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays – and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.” When garlic famers couldn’t find enough workers, they recently increased wages by $2 an hour, and were flooded with applicants. Surprise! Americans picking produce!

• If we pay more, food prices will skyrocket.

Philip Martin, of the Commission on Agricultural Workers, reports that raising farmworkers’ wages by 40 percent would increase a family’s annual food budget by only $16. By hiring legal workers and paying a livable wage, we save taxpayers the cost of poverty programs, and government gets more taxes.

• We need high-skilled foreign science, technology, engineering and math workers.

The Wall Street Journal: “America’s dazzling tech boom has a downside: Not enough jobs.” And The New York Times: Corporations, claiming dire shortages, are displacing Americans with foreign workers. “STEM shortages”?

• We’re caught between “mass deportations” and “mass amnesty.”

We have other choices. Passing mandatory E-verify for all new hires would immediately end the jobs magnet. Over five years, we could phase in E-verify for all workers. A five-year transition period would allow employers now dependent on an illegal workforce to rethink their business plan, and it would allow illegal immigrants time to make other arrangements.

 Families could be divided!

It’s not our responsibility to provide amnesty and citizenship to people who’ve committed Social Security card fraud and identity theft and lied on federal documents in order to “make a better life.” If native-born Americans commit these crimes, they face jail time.

• What about “Dreamers,” brought here as children? They’re innocent.

Legalization without citizenship for a limited number of highly deserving Dreamers makes sense. But their plight shouldn’t become a Trojan horse for another mass amnesty.

• We need more young people!

Since immigrants sponsor their elderly parents, too, immigration has no discernible effect on generational demographics, according to the pro-restriction Center for Immigration Studies.

• President Barack Obama deported millions. Illegal immigration is simply unstoppable.

The Los Angeles Times: The Obama administration changed the definition of “deportation.” Citing that fact, Obama himself called his deportation statistics “a little deceptive.” Using the old definition, deportations declined by 40 percent under Obama.

How can we stop illegal immigration? It’s obvious: Go after the employers. Decisive enforcement. No more “catch and release.” Immigration policy will affect nearly every aspect of our society for generations. Let’s try applying a fact-based discussion to this complex problem.

Jonette Christian of Holden is a member of Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy. She can be contacted at jonettechristian@ rocketmail.com.

Skewed perspective doesn't tell the whole story

It seems that reporter April Ehrlich might be a bit off center in Worker shortage coincides with immigration decline in her article published in the Argus Observer.

First of all, and not mentioned in the article is that Oregon law that makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to work in the fields like many of us remember doing.  We worked to earn money for school clothes, rides at the State Fair or saving for college.  It was hot, dirty and most important, a valuable life lesson that I still treasure.

The reporter states that nationwide only 26% of ag workers are illegal aliens.  That means that the remainder are US citizens or approved VISA workers who are willing to do the work.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the false wailing that illegal alien laborers only take the jobs Americans won't do - like picking our fruit and vegetables or working in the fields.  The fact is, numerous studies show that less than 5% of laborers in the US illegally, are actually working in the fields.  They, like most workers, want better jobs and move easily on to employment in construction, drywall, hotels and restaurants etc., pushing American workers and legal immigrants out of those very jobs.

The successful acquisition of employees can be described quite simply. 

Adequate, competitive wages for the work being done, safe, decent working conditions, attractive benefits and, as most industrialized nations do, mechanize when possible to streamline and reduce the tedious, dirty jobs often associated with farm or factory work.

The alternative, which is practiced by many seeking to avoid the above, is to hire illegal labor.  The fact is that it's against Federal Law to hire workers that are in the country illegally. There are VISA's available for ag labor, if only employers would do the paper work and be responsible.  But, that's too much work and expense, apparently, when they can more easily hire illegal workers.  After all, there are no real consequences for hiring illegal aliens - right?

Instead, those working here illegally are more easily cheated and abused as employees.  Those working here illegally are often being paid under the table, or using a fake or stolen ID to get a job.  Employers know they are hiring illegal workers, they know they are breaking the law and they know that it's likely an illegal alien worker won't complain about long hours, no breaks, unsafe working conditions or worse.

What kind of business model is this for the United States?  We aren't some 3rd world country taking advantage of the poor with no other options - or, are we?

Why don't we have a real conversation about what needs to be done to make Oregon's farmers more competitive in world markets in a way that does not involve encouraging more illegal aliens to come here for those jobs.  Why don't we invest in research to improve mechanization to make our farmers more competitive?  I think we're smart enough to do that - don't you?

Rep. Vic Gilliam gets it wrong - again!

Representative Vic Gilliam, who spear-headed the failed attempt to put driver licenses in the hands of people in our country illegally, is at it again.

Flagrant remarks about the intentions of a well respected grassroots organization, of which I am President, is a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the work we have done and the intentions of our group going forward. 

In fact, he goes so far as to imply that OFIR is racist for wanting our immigration laws enforced and to have the needs of American citizens come first.

Rep. Gilliam, an elected official sworn to uphold the laws of this country, seems to think it's better to embrace the needs of those that willingly disregard our laws by coming here illegally, working here illegally and often using a stolen identity or social security number to do so, whose children overwhelm our schools, who often steal jobs away from low skill, entry level, legal workers (especially minorites), whose cars overwhelm our roads and whose increasing numbers threaten our natural environment. 

Rep. Gilliam stated, "Largely as a result of a failed federal immigration policy, we have undocumented workers in our state who are proven hard-working citizens and trusted friends."  Undocumented workers are now citizens according to Gilliam?   Gilliam is a State Representative?  At one time we used to be a nation that respected the “rule of law.”

I've got news for you Vic, our immigration policy is not failed - it's simply not enforced!  Elected officials like you have compounded the problems.  I don't blame those that take advantage of our lack of enforcement - I blame our elected officials that pick and choose which laws to enforce and which laws are not as convenient for them and their deep pocketed donors.

Once again, I think you're on the wrong side of the issue.  Clearly, you ignored your constituents thoughts on the issue  regarding driver licenses for illegal aliens when 18,282 of your constituents voted NO and only 5,571 voted YES.

You are elected to protect and serve your constituents, not foreign nationals illegally present in our country.

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Immigration reform, not discrimination, is needed

By:
Vic Gilliam
Woodburn Independent
2016-01-27

 

A simplistic view of immigration can be tempting given decades of federal mismanagement of our borders as well as grave concerns for our safety in light of growing international terrorism.

Some essentially declare in frustration: “Let’s seal our borders, force everyone to speak English and round up the ‘illegals’ and ship ‘em home!”

Racism is an evil human tendency, which I must resist. It can be as blatant as slavery. It can also creep up on a society or into one’s heart under the cover of fear.

Fellow lawmakers, some of whom I know well and respect, have announced their intention to promote so called “immigration reform” policies. I disagree with their approach and will vigorously oppose their efforts.

Taking the failures of this White House (and several previous ones) out on our neighbors and friends in Oregon is hardly the way to fix a global problem. I agree, we have an American culture and traditions that are memorable and worthy of respect. Hallmarks range from the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. From Mark Hatfield’s success in restoring every Oregon Native-American tribe’s rights, to Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” we cherish landmarks in this great American melting pot.

Vigorous debate is fundamental to our republic. I repeat that many of legislators supporting these measures are honorable leaders and friends of mine. Yet, there are numerous reasons for opposing their proposal. And there is a fundamental flaw in their strategy.

The individuals and organization that have again masterminded and promoted these objectionable proposals, sadly have a reputation of racism. There are consistent and vigorous claims of non-discrimination but when considering the literature, rhetoric and track record of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s phrase: “Methinks thou doth protest too much.”

Their spokesman was quoted this way: “They’re dividing the fabric of the community by not learning to speak English. … We’re not discriminating against any particular group. We just feel learning English would be important if you want to become a citizen.”

A common language for communication is an admirable goal. But why not promote English, bilingual education and additional language skills in our schools? Additionally, why not encourage adult education venues to address language and cultural differences and promote understanding and unity?

Largely as a result of a failed federal immigration policy, we have undocumented workers in our state who are proven hard-working citizens and trusted friends. If you choose to ignore the reality of generations of immigrants who are valued members of our community and economy, then who is really dividing the fabric of Oregon with frustrated misdirected policies at the state level?

I support a new focus on future federal standards of border safety. I will oppose clandestine discrimination cloaked in “immigration reform” that will make life more difficult for Oregon families with rich histories here and abroad. Let’s unite and raise the local bar of tolerance and understanding that results in a safer and stronger Oregon.

Vic Gilliam is state representative for House District 18, which spans from Aurora to Silverton.

http://portlandtribune.com/wbi/153-opinion/290522-167943-immigration-ref...

$10,000 grant awarded to PCUN Farmworker Service Center

Money will help establish center's first-ever formal training program for staff and volunteers

PCUN’s Farmworker Service Center received a $10,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation last year, which the Woodburn-based nonprofit and farmworkers union plans to use to strengthen services and develop a formal orientation and training program.

Jaime Arredondo, secretary-treasurer for PCUN (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United), said that though the Farmworker Service Center has been providing accredited immigration law services to its clients for over 30 years, it has never had a formal training program for its employees, volunteers or interns.

“They have some pieces, but not something comprehensive,” he said.

The center provides a variety of services to PCUN members, including legal representation for a number of different immigration matters, referral services, verbal and written translations, public notary services and a death benefit.

“These services are vital because they provide an entry point to better economic and health stability for Oregon’s most vulnerable workforce,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo said the center already serves well over 1,000 people each year, and the demand is expected to keep growing, especially if there is an extension of immigration relief or reform in the future.

“(That) would put the FSC in a challenging place to meet the demand,” he said. “We need to be able to scale up quicker. The training program would allow the FSC to do this.”

The Willamette Valley Law Project was the center’s fiscal sponsor for the grant, since PCUN is a 501(c)(5) nonprofit, and a 501(c)(3) was needed to apply for these particular grants.

The award was part of 22 grants the OCF handed out in November 2015, totalling more than $443,000, to northern Willamette Valley nonprofits. The foundation awarded a total of over $8.4 million state-wide.

For more information about PCUN and the Farmworker Service Center, visit www.pcun.org/pcun-service-center. For full lists of grants awarded around the state and more information about OCF initiatives, visit www.oregoncf.org.
 

Washington State Fruit Grower Hit With $2.25 Million Immigration Fine

Broetje Orchards of Washington, one of the country’s largest apple growers, has agreed to pay a $2.25 million fine for hiring illegal immigrants. The fine is one of the largest ever levied against an agricultural concern, according to government officials who announced it Thursday.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the civil penalty was levied against Broetje for employing nearly 950 people who weren’t authorized to work in the U.S...

“All businesses are expected to comply with the law and to ensure the information provided on a form I-9 (employment form) is accurate,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña.

...acknowledges auditors found that it continued to employ unauthorized workers after being advised by ICE those employees didn’t have permission to work in the U.S.

Broetje is the largest employer in Walla Walla County in Eastern Washington. It has more than 1,000 permanent employees and up to 2,800 during harvest season. Many of them live on the company’s vast grounds in Prescott, Wash., where the grower built housing, school and a day care center for workers.

When the concern first came under scrutiny years ago, it already had begun to train and employ low-skilled workers in the U.S. legally, many of them refugees from Africa and Asia. But its founders, Ralph and Cheryl Broetje, said in an interview at the time that agriculture suffered from a severe labor shortage and that they hoped an overhaul of the country’s immigration system would enable their business to retain experienced workers.

They declined to comment Thursday. But a statement attributed to company management said: “We are pleased to put this process behind us and to get back the business of growing fruit. It said the case ”highlights what is clearly a dysfunctional and broken immigration system.”
 

The Obama Engineered Immigration Meltdown (and Why Securing the Border is a Red Herring)

No discussion of immigration reform in Washington gets very far without some politician boldly declaring, “The first thing we must do is secure the border,” as if that were a novel idea and panacea for illegal immigration.

Once and for all: The border is a red herring. It’s not our border that’s out of control; it’s the Obama administration that’s out of control and the border is just one of many casualties in the president’s assault on immigration enforcement.

What we have on our hands is an immigration meltdown engineered by the president and his political appointees. Our immigration courts have ceased to function, and virtually every illegal alien has been exempted from removal, even if they were operating. Work permits are being handed out to illegal aliens like lollipops on Halloween – about 5.5 million since Obama came to office in 2009.

Of course our borders out of control!

In recent days, the Department of Justice announced that because immigration courts are so overwhelmed, most people with cases pending will not have them heard until 2019 at the earliest. These courts are not overwhelmed because they’re busy deporting so many people who shouldn’t be here. Rather, they are overwhelmed by the number of people who have no business here seeking legalization and the tens of thousands of Central Americans who surged across the border last summer.

In reporting the story, AP cited as a “victim” of the delay the story of Maximiano Vazquez-Guevarra, an illegal alien from Mexico who recently won his appeal to become a legal permanent resident, but needs to make one more court appearance to make it final. Vasquez managed to tie up the courts for three years successfully fighting deportation (and gaining legal status) after coming to the attention of authorities when he was charged with his second DUI.

While the courts have ceased to function because, under the Obama administration, illegal aliens can spend years petitioning for legal residency because they get caught driving while intoxicated (and win), millions more are being given work permits because…well, because the administration just feels like it.

According to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies, the Obama administration has been ignoring statutorily mandated limits on immigration (big shocker) and handing out Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) at will. Since 2009, 1.2 million people who were admitted on temporary visas that explicitly bar them from working got – you guessed it – EADs. Almost a million illegal aliens also received work authorization, despite the inconvenient law that bars them from being employed in the U.S. Another 1.7 million EADs were parceled out to folks whose status in this country was unclear. But, what the heck, the administration has no interest in finding out and no intention of doing anything about it anyway.

And all this is before they have even begun carrying out the president’s massive executive amnesty, which could grant give legal status and EADs to an additional 5 million illegal aliens, which is likely to trigger an even greater surge of illegal immigration.

First let’s secure the border? No, first we have to stop the president from rendering our entire immigration law meaningless.
 

Measure 88 hurts Oregon's unemployed

Campaigns are often won or lost based on slogans or a clever turn of a phrase.  But, the cold hard facts are often hard to "market" to the casual voter.

Read here the David Cross article posted on OregonLive.com regarding the impact of illegal immigration on Oregon's unemployed and how Ballot Measure 88 compounds the problem.

Who is really behind the push to give driver cards to illegal aliens?

Read OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll's guest commentary about the alliances and motives behind the driver card legislation.  Remember to vote NO in NOvember to overturn SB 833 - a new law granting state issued ID - in the form of driver cards - to illegal aliens.

 

 

Gloss is for lips - not for politics

If it weren't so infuriating it might even make me laugh. It's the regular practice of "glossing over" the facts to make the case for wrong doing.

A recent case in point is the announcement by Oregon Association of Nurseries of their favorite six legislators who have helped them to game the system even further and all at the tax-payer's expense.

The six include three Republicans and three Democrats. They are Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon Fifth District), Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), State Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton), State Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), and State Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario). These six elected officials took an oath of office to uphold the laws of the state and federal government. But, we'll gloss over that for now.

It's no secret that OAN is big business here in Oregon. It is clearly no secret, even to the casual observer, that OAN is apparently heavily invested in the use of an illegal work force. Hence their prominent position and support of SB 833 - the new law giving state issued ID in the form of driver privilege cards to illegal aliens. But, we'll gloss over that for now, too.

What is the real cost to Oregon's citizens, businesses and taxpayers?

An example:

One young man comes to Oregon illegally to work. He brings with him not only his pregnant wife and 3 children but the mind set that it's alright to break our immigration laws to come here and work.  After all, we're going to give him a driver privilege card so it must be ok - right?

The nursery business gets the benefit of the one (cheap) illegal worker which may even be using a stolen identity (perhaps yours) to get hired. Or, the employer may knowingly hire an illegal worker making it easier for them to exploit or cheat him or even pay him under the table avoiding costly employer tax contributions. But, we'll gloss over that for now. as well.

The taxpayer, however, foots the bill for the rest of his family to the tune of one billion dollars in 2012 according to a recent report by FAIR. The children will be enrolled in public school (most likely in an expensive ELL program). And, once the baby is born (often referred to as an anchor baby) and at taxpayer expense, then the real bonanza begins. Benefits begin to flood to the family and they are now living on easy street compared to life in their home country. But, we'll gloss over that for now, too.

Actions by many in our state government send a loud and clear message that this is OK - Oregonians must want this kind of business model here in our state because we keep re-electing the people who pass this kind of legislation -right? 

Businesses will lie, cheat, game the system and make a boatload of money on the backs of hard working, tax paying, honest citizens and even the unemployed get screwed while they pull it off.  Our Legislature supports this - it's the American way, right?  But, let's gloss over that, while we're at it.

It all makes me sick!  I'm ashamed of our Governor and the Legislators that support SB 833. I'm sick of our elected officials working to make life easier for people willfully breaking our laws and businesses that capitalize on weak enforcement of our employment laws. I'm sick of government officials picking and choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore for their own benefit. I'm sick of our elected officials GLOSSING OVER the hard facts in order to make life easier for people in our country illegally, all while thumbing their noses at honest, hardworking citizens.

I refuse to gloss over the facts about SB 833 and the real truth about giving driver cards to illegal aliens. I'm proud to be the Authorized Agent of Protect Oregon Driver Licenses and will work hard to get this insidious legislation overturned when it's on the ballot in November 2014. Let Oregon voters decide!

OAN recognizes six public officials as 'Friends of Nurseries'

November 7, 2013, Wilsonville, Ore. -- The Oregon Association of Nurseries will recognize six Oregon elected officials as "Friends of Nurseries" at its 2013 Convention, to be held Friday at The Oregon Garden resort in Silverton, Ore.

The six include three Republicans and three Democrats. They are Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon Fifth District), Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), State Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton), State Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), and State Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario).

"The Oregon nursery industry is the largest single segment in Oregon agriculture, with $745 million in sales in the most recent year that was tracked," OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. "Our association is more than 800 businesses strong, and all of them make a positive difference in Oregon's economy. That's why we wanted to give these public officials some much-deserved recognition. All of them have shown positive leadership, ensuring that Oregon remains a great place for nurseries to do business."

Gov. Kitzhaber was recognized for taking the lead on creating a new water supply fund for irrigation, natural resource protection and other uses. He was also recognized for putting together a task force that led to creation and passage of a four-year driver's card bill. Finally, Kitzhaber has maintained critical natural resource and extension funding at the state level, which the industry relies on for sharing knowledge and managing pest and disease threats.

Rep. Schrader has been consistent ally on the Farm Bill and comprehensive immigration reform. He has secured funding for research and pest and disease issues, and successfully pushed the USDA to rescind a discriminatory order that denied Oregon growers equal marketplace access. Schrader is currently serving on a House-Senate conference committee regarding the federal Farm Bill.

Speaker Kotek provided critical support so that the water supply bill and driver's card bill could move forward.

Sen. Hansell was a key figure in the passage of the water supply bill and also sponsored the driver's card bill.

Sen. Thomsen also sponsored the driver's card bill and provided critical support to help get it passed.

Rep. Bentz helped put together a compromise that moved the water supply bill forward when few thought it could pass. It ended up passing with just one dissenting vote between the two legislative chambers.

The awards will be announced at Friday's convention. At that convention, outgoing OAN President Carson Lord of Tree Frog Nursery (Silverton, Ore.) will pass the gavel to President-Elect Matt Gold, who will assume office. Gold and a 23-member board will guide the association's direction and priorities for 2014.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 800 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Nursery products are the biggest sector in Oregon agriculture, with annual sales of $745 million in 2012. Oregon's nursery industry is a traded sector; nearly 75 percent of Oregon-grown nursery plants are shipped out of state. To learn more, visit www.oan.org or call 503-682-5089.

 

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