Weaken the magnet of jobs: Opposing view

Border enforcement isn’t just about the Mexican border.

The frontier with our southern neighbor really is better controlled than it used to be, though that’s not saying much, considering how laughably inadequate enforcement was in the past.

But it’s immigration security overall that we need to worry about, both at the border and the interior. Better border fencing is indeed necessary, but our efforts in non-border areas haven’t even risen yet to the level of “laughably inadequate.” Until they’re addressed, we shouldn’t even be discussing what to do about illegal aliens already here.

The three biggest weaknesses are worksite enforcement, visa tracking, and state and local partnerships with federal authorities.

Weakening the magnet of jobs is key to deterring illegal immigration. The online E-Verify system enables employers to check whether new hires are telling the truth about who they are — but it’s only voluntary. Only by making E-Verify a universal part of the hiring process can we even begin to claim to be serious about enforcement.

People who come here legally on visitor visas but never leave are now the main source of new illegal immigration, accounting for nearly 60% of the 1,000 new illegal aliens a day settling here. We do a better job of checking people in as they arrive, but we don’t track departures. That means we don’t know which visa holders have remained illegally — despite the fact that Congress has mandated such a visa-tracking system eight times since 1996.

It should go without saying that any illegal alien arrested for local crimes should be deported. Yet the Obama administration has dismantled the infrastructure for cooperation between the feds and local law enforcement. Rebuilding these relationships, and protecting cities from predatory lawsuits by anti-borders groups such as the ACLU, is imperative.

Politicians who want legalization of the illegals now, while promising to get around to improving enforcement in the future, are offering the same bad deal as the infamous 1986 amnesty. “Enforcement first” is the only acceptable approach.
  Read more about Weaken the magnet of jobs: Opposing view

$2.25 million ICE fine shocks tree fruit industry

A major Washington tree fruit company has agreed to pay $2.25 million in penalties to close several years of ICE audits of its workforce that at one point found 1,700 unauthorized workers. The company is not free from possible future audits, ICE says.

PRESCOTT, Wash. —The Washington tree fruit industry has been rocked by one of its largest companies, Broetje Orchards of Prescott, agreeing to pay $2.25 million in civil penalties to conclude a federal investigation of its workforce.

The settlement was reached for civil violations of federal law related to verifying U.S. employment eligibility of workers, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

It is the largest civil penalty by ICE on record against any business in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska and one of the larger fines against an agricultural company nationally, said Andrew Munoz, Seattle ICE spokesman.

Broetje Orchards issued a news release saying it has agreed to pay the $2.25 million with no admission of wrongdoing and no allegation or finding of criminal conduct.

In March 2012, ICE notified Broetje Orchards that it had nearly 1,700 workers not authorized to work in the U.S., Munoz said.

A follow-up audit last summer showed that while the company had significantly reduced the number, nearly 950 unauthorized workers remained, Munoz said. Broetje Orchards acknowledged that, he said.

ICE pursued a fine of $2.5 million based on $2,250 per employee, plus an additional amount for the “aggravating factor” that employees had not been terminated after the notice, Munoz said. Negotiations reduced that to $2.25 million in the agreement signed June 2, he said.

Broetje waives any right to appeal and is cleared of any further civil or criminal liability up to June 2, Munoz said.

“We come out of this agreement hoping Broetje continues on a path of compliance, but the agreement does not preclude future audits for criminal enforcement,” he said.

“ICE weighs various factors when considering the appropriate penalty, including the interests of the community and local economy,” said Raphael Sanchez, ICE’s chief counsel in Seattle. “We believe this is a reasonable conclusion that holds this business accountable but does not cripple its ability to provide jobs to lawful workers.”

In its news release, Broetje Orchards said it was pleased to get the process behind it and get back to growing fruit.

“This case nevertheless highlights what is clearly a dysfunctional and broken immigration system,” the company said. “We urge our industry and our state’s congressional delegation to take the lead to support and pass immigration reform legislation. The agricultural labor shortage needs to be fixed, and now.”

The company said it would make no further comment.

Broetje Orchards packs more than 5 million boxes of apples annually and has more than 6,000 acres of apples and cherries, according to its website.

It has more than 12 million square feet of fruit storage and packing space and employs 1,000 seasonal workers during peak harvests and 1,100 year-round employees.

Other agricultural employers in the four-state region have been fined by ICE in recent years, Munoz said. He said he doesn’t know how many. Penalties usually are less than $100,000 and typically between $5,000 and $50,000, he said.

ICE issued 11 notices of intent to fine in the four states in 2014 and 25 in 2013, he said. Those were all businesses, not just agriculture, he said. There were 12 final orders in 2014 totaling $176,000 in fines in the four states and 31 in 2013 totaling $763,000, he said.

“A majority of cases don’t result in any type of penalty or administrative action” when we see good faith, proactive efforts, Munoz said.

In reacting to the news, the president of another Washington tree fruit company, said: “This deal is scary. We will get to the point with these raids where we just won’t have enough people to get our crops picked and packed.”

The $2.25 million is a lot for any company to pay and probably 80 percent of the workers in most packing houses are illegal, said the president, who asked for anonymity.

“This is a symptom of the fact we’ve been unable to get anywhere on immigration reform. There are a lot of growers in the same position as Broetje. They all need to have a way to get a legal workforce instead of play the games of the past 20 years,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League in Yakima.

Solutions are available, such as the 2013 Senate bill, but greater use of H-2A foreign guest workers alone won’t solve labor shortages, he said.

Labor is tighter than last year, particularly in the Wenatchee area, he said.

“The large fine against an outstanding grower further demonstrates that the majority of the seasonal agricultural workforce is not work authorized, as if we need further proof,” said Dan Fazio, director of WAFLA, a farm labor association in Olympia.

“Immigration reform is the domestic social issue of our time. We need to get it right. Congress must reform immigration laws to make it easier for seasonal workers who are sponsored by great employers to enjoy the dignity of legal presence while they work in our fields and the administration needs to stop playing politics with the issue and work with Congress,” Fazio said.

This year’s labor shortage looks like 2006, a bad year, Fazio said. The recession reduce shortages for a few years after 2007, he said.

“People are scared they don’t have enough. We’re getting calls from lots of growers,” he said.

WAFLA probably will assist growers in hiring 10,000 H-2A workers this year compared to more than 7,000 last year, he said. The statewide total may hit 15,000, up from 9,077 last year, he said.

More hops and pear growers and smaller growers are using H-2A on shared contracts, he said.

Norm Gutzwiler, a Wenatchee grower, said he’s “dumbfounded” by the penalty against Broetje.

“Our system is broken and somehow it needs to be fixed so people can work. That’s a heavy fine to be levied against anyone,” he said.

“People will be more conscientious and try to do the right thing but people have been trying to do the right thing for years. I’m sure Broetje had people checking I-9 (employment eligibility) forms,” he said.

Gutzwiler said growers he’s talked to have had enough pickers for early cherries and that he hopes it will be adequate through cherry harvest as pickers move up from California after finishing the crop there.
  Read more about $2.25 million ICE fine shocks tree fruit industry

Your letters and commentaries help spread the word

Many of us are neck deep in politics.  They call us activists - or worse.

Many of us are very informed, but prefer to stay out of the fray and simply be supportive at the ballot box.

But, the vast majority of people are uninformed voters.  And, in large part, it's because of the "low information voter" that we are in the predicament we find ourselves now.

Letters to the Editor, commentaries and opinion pieces are critical in reaching out to people who only glance at the newspaper - occassionally.  Or take a peek online once in a while.

Please read through the fantastic collection of letters written by folks inspired to simply speak up and express their frustrations!

A well written opinion piece by OFIR founder and longtime member Elizabeth VanStaaveren is a good example!

A recent commentary by OFIR member Rick LaMountain is a great place to start.

  Read more about Your letters and commentaries help spread the word

Pew Researcher: Rate of Illegal Immigrant Males in Workforce 12 Percent Higher Than US-Born Males

WASHINGTON, DC — An illegal immigrant male residing in the United States  is more likely to be gainfully employed than a male who is a legal immigrant or U.S.-born citizen, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center think tank told lawmakers.

In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, an estimated 91 percent of illegal immigrant males were in the workforce. This compares to 84 percent of legal immigrant men and 79 percent of U.S.-born males, Pew Research Center demographer Jeffrey Passel in written testimony prepared for a March 26 hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee.

Put in a different way, legal and illegal immigrant males had a better chance to be in the workforce than U.S.-born men in 2012.

For women, the opposite is true. U.S.-born women are more likely to be in the labor force than immigrant females.

“Unauthorized immigrant men of working age [16 years of age and older] are considerably more likely to be in the workforce than U.S.-born men (91% versus 79%),” Passel declared in his written testimony.

“For women, the opposite is true; only 61% of unauthorized immigrant women are in the labor force, compared with 72% of U.S.-born women,” Mr. Passel continued.

The data provided by the Pew demographer shows that U.S.-born females are more likely to be in the workforce than illegal immigrant women (61%) and legal immigrant women (68%), respectively...

Overall, there were an estimated 8.1 million workers who are not legally authorized to work, both men and women, participating in the labor force in 2012 by either working or looking for work. Illegal workers made up about 5.1 percent of the labor force, which translates to nearly one-in-twenty U.S. workers, explained Passel...

“While there have been some modest changes in labor force participation rates over the past 20 years, the participation of unauthorized immigrant men and women, relative to the U.S.-born population and legal immigrants, has remained essentially unchanged since 2005,” he added.

The top three states with the highest share of illegal immigrants participating in the labor force are Nevada (10.2% of the workforce), California (9.4%), and Texas (8.9%), revealed the Pew Research Center.

Most work in either the service, hospitality, or construction industry. Read more about Pew Researcher: Rate of Illegal Immigrant Males in Workforce 12 Percent Higher Than US-Born Males

Enforcement Comes First

There are many issues plaguing our nation’s immigration system, but the biggest problem is that immigration laws are not enforced. While presidents of both parties have not fully enforced our immigration laws, President Obama has made several moves to unilaterally gutthem altogether. In order to protect against this, it is essential that any immigration reform start with enforcement.

Over the last several weeks, the House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, has approved four bills focused on enforcement of the law. These bills would strengthen the interior enforcement of our immigration laws, remove the ability of the President to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement, ensure jobs are preserved for American citizens and legal workers, reform the United States’ asylum laws, and make sure unaccompanied alien minors who make the dangerous trek to the U.S. are safely returned home.

The Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1147) requires all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, a web-based system that checks the Social Security numbers of newly hired employees to help ensure that they are genuinely eligible to work in the United States. Expanding E-Verify nationwide is a critical component to the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and brings the employment eligibility system into the 21st century.The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 1153) closes loopholes in current law that encourage illegal immigration, such as weak standards for asylum claims that enable the Obama Administration’s rubberstamping of fraudulent applications and policies, and effectively ends the current “catch and release” policies of the Administration that result in apprehended illegal immigrants being admitted into the interior of the country rather than being returned to their home country. In doing so, the bill restores the integrity of our immigration system so that it works better for our country and those truly persecuted in their home countries.

Another bill approved, H.R. 1148, introduced by Congressman Trey Gowdy, strengthens the interior enforcement of our immigration laws by granting states and localities the authority to enforce federal immigration laws and defunds President Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration.

Additionally, the bill makes our country safer by making it more difficult for foreign nationals who pose a national security risk to enter and remain in the U.S. The Protection of Children Act (H.R. 1149) ensures that unaccompanied alien minors who make the dangerous journey to the United States are safely returned home. For those who stay here with a sponsor while awaiting their immigration hearing, the bill provides for greater transparency and safety of these minors to ensure they are not inadvertently delivered into the hands of criminals or abusers.

By refusing to enforce the law, the President’s immigration policies collectively undermine our immigration system and send the message to the world that our laws can be violated without consequence.These four bills end many of the Obama Administration’s disastrous polices that wreak havoc on our immigration system and strengthen the interior enforcement of our immigration laws. I hope that the full House of Representatives will take up these bills soon. We must ensure enforcement of our immigration laws before we can address other broken aspects of the system.

Bob Goodlatte is the representative for Virginia’s 6th District in the U.S. House. Read more about Enforcement Comes First

Where candidates stand on immigration

Alert date: 
October 27, 2014
Alert body: 

OFIR has now added to the website a section on candidates in the Nov. 4 general election.  Please visit it to see the latest information on candidates’ positions on benefits to illegal aliens, use of E-Verify, and related issues. Click here:  http://www.oregonir.org/immigration-topics/2014-general-election.

Rep. Bonamici to hold Town Halls, June 3-14

Alert date: 
June 1, 2014
Alert body: 

Rep. Bonamici will be holding several Town Halls in June, from June 3-14.

The news release announcing the town halls quotes her: “These town halls are an excellent opportunity to hear directly from my constituents about the issues that they value most. I encourage all my constituents to attend and participate.”

So let’s ask her why she supports “comprehensive immigration reform,” meaning amnesty for illegal aliens. She recently voted for H.R. 15, a House version of the notorious Senate-passed S.744, granting sweeping amnesties to illegal aliens and greatly increasing levels of legal immigration.


Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s Town Hall schedule


Date & time


June 3, 2014

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital Auditorium

1015 NW 22nd Avenue, Portland, OR

June 4, 2014

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Hillsboro Main Library

2850 Brookwood Pkwy, Hillsboro, OR

June 5, 2014

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Beaverton City Library

12375 SW 5th Street, Beaverton, OR

June 7, 2014

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Gearhart Elementary School

1002 Pacific Way Gearhart, OR

June 7, 2014

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Vernonia High School

1000 Missouri Ave., Vernonia, OR

June 8, 2014

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Chemeketa Community College

288 NE Norton Lane, McMinnville, OR

June 8, 2014

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

PCC Newberg Center

135 Werth Blvd., Newberg, OR

June 14, 2014

10:00 – 11:00 am.

Scappoose City Hall

33568 E Columbia Ave., Scappoose, OR


Tell Rep. Bonamici NO AMNESTY, no increases in immigration. Too many citizens are already out of work or underemployed because of competition from illegal aliens and irresponsibly-issued visas for legal foreign workers.

Rep. Bonamici is graded D by NumbersUSA based on her voting record on immigration issues. See the record at http://www.numbersusa.com. Click Congress – Immigration Grade Cards.

If you need more ideas for questions to ask the Representative, you can find very good ones at http://cis.org/questions-for-lawmakers-on-immigration

The most effective action is to speak to Rep. Bonamici personally. If you cannot attend a Town Hall, you can contact Congresswoman Bonamici online. Please visit the Contact Me page (https://bonamici.house.gov/contact-me) to contact her electronically or click on the office location nearest you for details. There is a webform available for writing a message to her.

Washington, D.C. Office (http://bonamici.house.gov/office/washington-dc)

439 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0855
Fax: (202) 225-9497
Hours: M-F 9AM-5PM EST

Oregon Office (http://bonamici.house.gov/office/oregon-office)

12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 220
Beaverton, OR 97005
Phone: (503) 469-6010
Fax: (503) 469-6018
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM Toll Free: (800) 422-4003

Senator speaks with forked tongue

Senator Merkley is exposed for what he really stands for in this outstanding letter to the editor written by one of OFIR's founders Elizabeth VanStaaveren.

Please read the letter and then leave a comment of support if you agree.


  Read more about Senator speaks with forked tongue

Your Congressman is here and he would like to chat with you...

Alert date: 
January 27, 2014
Alert body: 

Congressman Kurt Schrader will be hosting Townhall meetings this week.  If you are able, OFIR encourages you to attend.  Invite a friend or neighbor along with you.

Speak up and express your views on the amnesty proposals in Congress that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens while also vastly increasing legal immigration, at this time of widespread unemployment and underemployment among citizens.

Here are the locations and dates of the town halls:


Thursday, January 30th

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Salem Library, Loucks Auditorium, 585 Liberty Street SE, Salem OR 97301



Saturday, February 8th

Noon to 1:00 PM

Lake Oswego City Hall, Council Chambers, 380 A Avenue, Lake Oswego, OR 97034


Here are some questions you might ask Congressman Schrader. If you’re able to question him or make comments to him, please tell OFIR how he responsed.

Consider asking one of these questions:

1. There have been 7 major amnesties passed by Congress from 1986 to 2000, each resulting in ever-increasing numbers of illegal immigrants. Now another huge amnesty is being pushed. We need enforcement of the immigration laws, not another amnesty. We need E-Verify mandated, to ensure that all employed persons are here legally. E-Verify is accurate and ready for expansion. Will you work to make E-Verify mandatory?

2. Unemployment persists as a major problem in Oregon and the U.S. Businesses can and do hire illegal aliens at substandard wages in construction, agriculture, hotels, restaurants. Why don’t you do more to stop the hiring of illegal aliens?

3. States that have E-Verify laws have seen a decline in the illegal alien population. This shows that many illegal aliens will leave if they cannot find jobs. There’s no need for mass deportations and no one is advocating that. There is no need for another amnesty. Simply require implementation of E-Verify and honest enforcement of other immigration laws. This would bring decreases in numbers of illegal aliens and also discourage others from attempting to enter illegally.

4. Giving benefits to illegal aliens such as driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, etc. legitimizes their presence here and rewards illegal behavior. Citizenship and the rule of law must be cherished and respected, or our nation is on a slippery slope into the culture of corruption from which many immigrants claim to be escaping. What are you doing to strengthen U.S. immigration law enforcement?

5. Did you know that between the Censuses of 2000 and 2010, 80% of population growth resulted from immigration (immigrants plus the children of immigrants). The U.S. is already overcrowded. After more than 4 decades of unprecedentedly high immigration, we need a pause, a moratorium on immigration, or we face a steep decline in the quality of life for everyone. Are you willing to say No to the lobbies constantly pushing for amnesties and more immigration?


Half a Million Employers Now Enrolled in E-Verify

“E-Verify is largely voluntary, so the fact that we now have half a million employers enrolled shows significant confidence in the program."

USCIS (a branch of DHS) says:  “In the past decade, E-Verify participation has increased 400 percent. E-Verify is now used nationwide at more than 1.5 million hiring sites, with more than 1,400 new employers joining each week. Additionally, E-Verify is one of the federal government’s highest-rated services for customer satisfaction.”

There is a searchable database of employers using E-Verify at http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/about-program/e-verify-employers-search-tool. Searches can be filtered for name of employer, or state, city, etc. A search for all Oregon employers shows that over 3,000 employers in the state are now participating. You can search by name of your town to see which employers locally are using E-Verify.

OFIR NOTE:  Please make every attempt to support businesses using E-Verify and tell them why you chose them over a competitor.  As with anything, please do your own research about the business to be certain you are making the right choice. Read more about Half a Million Employers Now Enrolled in E-Verify


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