jobs

Kitzhaber pushes pension cuts in proposed budget

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber will propose an increase in funding for Oregon schools, but the money wouldn't be enough to reduce class sizes unless the Legislature cuts pension benefits for retired teachers and other public employees, his staff said Thursday.

The governor's budget proposal, scheduled for release on Friday, will include $6.15 billion in K-12 school funding over the next two years, according to a summary released by his office. That's an 8-percent increase over current funding, but not enough to cover the $6.3 billion it would cost to maintain the current level of service in schools.

Kitzhaber hopes his budget proposal will nudge lawmakers to cut back on public pension benefits for retirees in order to avoid forcing school districts to lay off more teachers or shorten school years.

Kitzhaber spokesman Tim Raphael said the governor built his budget on an assumption that the Legislature will approve two changes to the Public Employee Retirement System: The elimination of a supplemental pension payment intended to cover out-of-state retirees' income tax in Oregon. Out-of-state retirees pay income taxes in their home state, not in Oregon, so critics say they shouldn't get the supplemental tax payment. The other change would limit retirees' annual cost-of-living increase to $480 per year.

The governor's office says the pension changes would save school districts $253 million in the upcoming two-year budget period. Across all levels of government, the savings would be $865 million per biennium.

The governor's funding proposal is far too low to improve the quality of education, said Gail Rasmussen, president of the Oregon Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.

His proposed pension cuts are unconstitutional and shouldn't be counted on to deliver savings to school districts, she said.

"Our districts are still dealing with really bad, bad budget crises," Rasmussen said.

In an email sent Thursday to state workers, Kitzhaber said his budget would not require them to take more unpaid days off work to save money, as they've had to do for several years.

His budget also will assume that the Legislature changes criminal sentencing laws so the prison population grows by just 300 inmates over the next 10 years — 2,000 fewer than experts project under current laws.

Kitzhaber's pension and sentencing changes will be a heavy lift in the Legislature, where both initiatives are likely to present political risks for lawmakers.

Public-employee unions, which were instrumental in helping Democrats build their majorities in the Legislature, have a history of fighting pension cuts that hurt their members' pocketbooks.

"Gov. Kitzhaber has provided a good starting point for the budget negotiations ahead of us," Sen. Peter Devlin, a Tualatin Democrat who will be co-chairman of the budget committee, said in a statement.

Lawmakers risk being labeled soft on crime if they approve legislation that reduces prison time for criminals. The governor has long argued that spending on prisons is rising too quickly and diverting scarce tax dollars away from education and police. A commission he appointed is expected to recommend sentencing changes next month.

The $16.3 billion proposed budget for the general fund and lottery is a 10 percent increase over the current spending plan. It would leave $130 million unbudgeted to guard against unexpected costs or a weakening economic recovery.

The governor is required to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature, but the final spending plan must be approved by lawmakers. Kitzhaber and the Legislature have to contend with a $700 million gap between anticipated revenue and the cost of continuing government services at their current levels for two more years.

Kitzhaber will also recommend:

— $1 billion in infrastructure projects, including $450 million for a new Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River.

— More money to pay for daycare for low-income workers, boosting the program by 500 children.

— Additional funding for high school students to earn community college credits and  to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities.

— $55 million for child safety, including more money for Child Protective Services and for community-based mental health services.

True Immigration Reform Must be Rational, Affordable, and Manageable

H.L. Mencken once observed that “complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.” In the aftermath of the 2012 elections, both political parties seem poised to implement a simple, easy to understand, and disastrous solution to our nation’s complex immigration problem.

There is no disputing that immigration reform is urgently needed. The problem is that the framework for reform, long offered by the Democratic Party and now belatedly embraced by the leadership of the Republican Party in the aftermath of an electoral defeat, is essentially our existing policy on steroids. If we are ever going to have an immigration policy that enjoys broad public support, we must start by making it work for the broader public interest. True reform must result in a policy that is rational, affordable, and manageable.

Making Immigration Rational

A rational immigration policy would select immigrants based on their likelihood to succeed in a post-industrial 21st century economy. We must, therefore, end our current policy of chain migration that results in the admission of millions of people whose skills do not meet the needs of our economy. The system must be redesigned to admit more limited numbers of people who bring unique skills, talents, and education that will expand the productive potential of the American economy.

A rational immigration policy must include a “stress test” that assesses the impact of immigration on American workers and makes adjustments accordingly. Certainly, during times of sustained high unemployment, U.S. immigration policies must have a mechanism for reducing the influx. The impact of perhaps tens of millions more people competing for jobs in the manufacturing, construction, and service sectors would signal the death knell of the blue collar middle class.

Making Immigration Affordable

A more rational immigration policy would also be a more affordable one – an important consideration for a nation with a $16 trillion accumulated debt that grows by upwards of $1 trillion annually. U.S. households headed by immigrants are 50 percent more likely to rely on some form of government assistance than those headed by a native born resident.

Any tax revenues generated by immigrants who arrive here poorly educated and poorly skilled lag far behind the costs required for their education, health care, and housing. When the costs associated with means-tested benefits for their U.S. born children are factored in, the price tag for maintaining the current system is unsustainable. Alternatively, immigrants who are selected based on their skills are far more likely to be self-sufficient and net tax contributors.

Making Immigration Manageable

Future flows of immigration must also be manageable. The sheer volume of today’s immigration flow – more than 1 million legal admissions each year and hundreds of thousands of guest workers – make the system virtually impossible to manage effectively. Only by reducing the influx, establishing clear criteria for admission, closing loopholes or frivolous avenues for backdoor admissions, and streamlining the adjudication process can we once again reassert control over immigration.

Manageability also requires having systems in place that minimize the possibility that people who break the rules can succeed. Most importantly, we must eliminate the strongest magnet to illegal immigration – the availability of jobs to illegal aliens. To accomplish this, all U.S. employers must be required to check the work eligibility of the people they hire using the E-Verify system

Finally, it must be moral. Americans must be confident that all laws will be enforced consistently, and not be held hostage to the political agenda of whatever administration holds office. As we have witnessed in the past several years, the integrity of our immigration policy can be undermined by a president who simply decides he will not enforce laws that do not serve his political aims.

Unfortunately, the deal now being discussed in Washington is neither rational, affordable, manageable nor moral. Its centerpiece is a massive, expensive, and chaotic amnesty plan to be followed by the expansion of family chain migration to satisfy Democratic special interests, while piling on some additional skilled worker visas to appease business interests.

True "reform" means solving today's problems in a manner that prevents any recurrence down the line. Is anyone willing to provide this kind of leadership? After years of fruitless effort to truly reform our nation’s immigration policies, it seems the two parties may find agreement on one idea– a concept that is simple, easy to understand, and wrong.

Howard agrees to proposed $1.3M settlement

Those eligible for part of a proposed, $1.3 million class-action settlement alleging discriminatory hiring practices at Howard Industries’ Laurel transformer plant have until Nov. 29 to opt out of their piece of the settlement.

Howard entered into a settlement agreement without admitting any wrongdoing to avoid protracted litigation in a lawsuit filed by four plaintiffs alleging the business held discriminatory hiring practices toward non-Hispanics.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett entered an order Oct. 5 outlining the processes involved in distributing the settlement. The settlement will only be approved following a Jan. 23 final fairness hearing before Starrett.

Veronica Cook, Yolanda Phelps, Charlyn Dozier and Seleatha McGee, all African-American, said in their Feb. 2011 lawsuit they repeatedly applied for employment at Howard Industries, but were only hired after the company was raided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Aug. 25, 2008, 592 illegal workers were arrested at the electrical transformer plant in Laurel in the biggest workplace immigration raid in U.S. history.

The lawsuit was filed one day after Howard Industries Inc. pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine for violating immigration laws.

Howard Industries former human resources manager, Jose Humberto Gonzalez, pleaded guilty in December 2009 to conspiracy and admitted he hired hundreds of people whom he knew were in the country illegally.

Gonzalez was sentenced in 2011 to five months of house arrest, placed on five years probation and fined $4,000.

Howard will put the settlement funding into an account designated by a jointly selected claims administrator.

“The claims administrator will accept claims from purported members of the class and will determine whether those individuals are, in fact, class members and, if so, whether they are entitled to a payment under terms of the settlement agreement,” Starrett wrote in his order.

The administrator will divide class members into four categories to include:

• Plaintiffs named in the lawsuit

• Those who applied between Jan. 1, 2003 and Aug. 25, 2008 who were not hired or offered employment, and records show no valid, non-discriminatory reason for non hire, but were hired after Aug. 25, 2008

• Those who applied during the same period and were not hired while Howard’s records show no valid, non-discriminatory reason

• Those who applied during the same period and were not hired, but records do not affirmatively show the claimant was qualified.

Howard will also offer 70 of the class members a position within nine months of the settlement to be selected by lottery.

Following the entry of Starrett’s order, the administrator began mailing notice of the class action and proposed settlement to eligible class members.
 

Not this again...

One only needs to look at history to see the road that the GOP is heading down will lead us right back to where we are now.

Rewarding illegal behavior in any way is always wrong.  Because the government has been so weak on enforcement of our immigration laws, we have a looming problem.  The government doesn't want to take responsibility for the mess they have created, they want to hand out green cards instead and pretend that will solve the problem.  It will not solve the problem, it will once again, make it worse.

If the government is unable now, to handle who is coming here, where they are working and what they are doing, how on earth can we even imagine how they would manage such a complex and cumbersome plan as the one described in this article and at what cost? 

This is a mess no one wants to clean up for fear of angering the potential Hispanic voter.  That's just dumb.  Do the right thing first and everything else will fall into place.  Enforce our existing immigration laws.

It's time to get control of the problem and stop pussy footing around about it.  Amnesty is not the solution.
 

Senators propose comprehensive immigration changes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senators on opposite sides of the aisle are proposing comprehensive changes to the immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States.

Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who promoted similar proposals on separate Sunday news shows said that no path to citizenship would be available until the country's borders were secure.

Only then could those in the U.S. without authorization "come out of the shadows, get biometrically identified, start paying taxes, pay a fine for the law they broke," Graham told CBS' "Face the Nation." ''They can't stay unless they learn our language, and they have to get in the back of line before they become citizens. They can't cut in front of the line regarding people who are doing it right and it can take over a decade to get their green card." A green card grants permanent residency status — a step toward citizenship.

Schumer told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he and Graham have resumed talks on immigration policy that broke off two years ago and "have put together a comprehensive detailed blueprint on immigration reform" that has "the real potential for bipartisan support based on the theory that most Americans are for legal immigration, but very much against illegal immigration."

Graham, however, made no mention of working with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, refugees and border security.

Immigration policy, largely ignored during President Barack Obama's first four years in office, has re-emerged as a major issue as Republicans seek ways to rebound from their election performance. More than 70 percent of Hispanic voters supported Obama, who has been more open than Republicans to comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.

Three days after Tuesday's election, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said it was time to address immigration policy. He urged Obama to take the lead in coming up with a plan that would look at both improved enforcement of immigration law and the future of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. Boehner, however, did not commit to the citizenship issue.

Graham said that the "tone and rhetoric" Republicans used in the immigration debate of 2006 and 2007 "has built a wall between the Republican Party and Hispanic community," causing Hispanic support to dwindle from 44 percent in 2004 to 27 percent in 2012.

"This is an odd formula for a party to adopt, the fastest growing demographic in the country, and we're losing votes every election. It's one thing to shoot yourself in the foot, just don't reload the gun. I intend not to reload this gun when it comes to Hispanics. I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that's an American solution to an American problem," he said.

Both senators said the overhaul would include developing a secure document to assure employers they're hiring people authorized to work in the country, and allowing legal immigration for needed workers at all skill levels. The path to citizenship would require immigrants to learn English, go to the back of the citizenship line, have a job and not commit crimes.

Graham said the overhaul would have to be done in such a way that "we don't have a third wave of illegal immigration 20 years from now. That's what Americans want. They want more legal immigration and they want to fix illegal immigration once and for all."

In exit polls on Tuesday, The Associated Press found 65 percent favored offering most illegal immigrants workers in the United States a chance to apply for legal status, more than double the number who said most should be deported. Even among Republicans, the party associated with crackdowns on illegal immigration, about half favored a path toward staying in the U.S.
 

Krastev shipped to Bulgaria

The former Oregon Liquor Control Commission agent who spent nearly 20 years residing illegally in the United States under a false identity has been deported.

Doitchin Krastev, known as Jason Evers during his time in Bend with the OLCC, was sent back to his native Bulgaria on July 31, according to Andrew Munoz of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Munoz said Krastev traveled on a commercial flight, and was escorted by Enforcement and Removal Operations officers.

According to federal court records, Krastev began using the name Jason Evers in 1996, when he applied for and received a Social Security number using the name and birth date of an Ohio boy who had been kidnapped and murdered years earlier. As Evers, Krastev earned a GED from Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo., then came to Oregon, passed a background check and began working for the OLCC.

Krastev arrived in the United States as a teenager in the early 1990s, the guest of former Reagan administration official Michael Horowitz.

Horowitz was touring post-Communist Eastern Europe when he met Krastev's parents, both prominent Bulgarian academics. Impressed by the boy's intelligence, Horowitz invited Krastev to return to the U.S. with him to complete his education away from the turmoil created by the fall of the Soviet Union.

Krastev graduated from a prestigious Washington, D.C., private high school and was admitted to equally prestigious Davidson College in North Carolina, but in 1994, near the end of his sophomore year at Davidson, he dropped out and disappeared.

After living in Colorado for a few years under the name Danny Kaiser, Krastev arrived in Oregon and became OLCC agent Jason Evers.

As Evers, Krastev made a number of enemies in Central Oregon. In a few instances, bar and restaurant owners who had been cited by Evers successfully fought their tickets, providing video evidence to contradict the agent's claims.

In 2009, the Oregon Department of Justice launched an investigation into enforcement practices at the OLCC office run by Evers and transferred him to Eastern Oregon.

In 2010, federal authorities caught up with Krastev. A State Department investigation comparing passport applications against death records revealed someone had applied for a passport in 2002 using the identity of the Jason Evers who had been murdered in Ohio 20 years earlier.

Federal marshals located Krastev in Idaho and arrested him on suspicion of falsifying information on a passport application and identity theft.

After pleading guilty to federal charges against him, Krastev served just shy of two years in a federal prison for identity theft and passport fraud.

In January, he was turned over to ICE and transferred to Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz., to face deportation proceedings.

During his stay at the Arizona prison, Krastev filed a civil rights complaint against the warden and food director, contending their failure to provide him with adequate vegan meals violated his right to practice his Buddhist faith.

A judge ruled against Krastev, dismissing his complaint in early July.

As a consequence of his deportation, Krastev is barred from legally re-entering the U.S. for 10 years, Munoz said.

We must never give up. We must never stop fighting. America's future depends on it.

Alert date: 
2012-11-07
Alert body: 

It's a sad and frustrating day for all of us who have worked so hard to protect this great country from unfettered illegal immigration and excessive legal immigration.

"Unfortunately, neither the candidates nor the media drew attention to the deleterious impact that high immigration levels have on American workers," said Marilyn DeYoung, Chairman of the Board of CAPS. "There is no difference between outsourcing, sending American jobs overseas, and ‘insourcing,’ bringing in foreign workers to take American jobs."

While Americans reelected Obama based on their preference for his economic policies, they do not embrace his plans for amnesty. Furthermore, they want to see laws enforced at the workplace through mandatory use of the free, accurate and easy to use E-verify program.

"True immigration reform means securing our borders and reducing immigration to reasonable levels that protect American workers. In 1996, Barbara Jordan and the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform called for lower levels of legal immigration and tough measures against illegal immigration. It made sense then; it makes sense now," stated DeYoung, who served on the President’s Commission on Population Growth and the American Future in 1970.

Our nation's sovereignty depends on citizens caring enough to protect what they have.

Connecting the dots...

Connecting the dots between high unemployment, increased crime, exploding entitlement programs, over-crowded school and a deteriorating environment and how they are related to un-checked illegal immigration and excessive legal immigration is a big job, but one we all must continue to pursue.

While Americans re-elected President Obama based on their apparent preference for his economic policies, they do not embrace his plans for amnesty. Furthermore, Americans want to see laws enforced at the workplace through mandatory use of the free, accurate and easy to use E-verify program.

Neither the candidates nor the media drew attention to the deleterious impact that high immigration levels have on American workers," said Marilyn DeYoung, Chairman of the Board of CAPS. "There is no difference between outsourcing, sending American jobs overseas, and insourcing, bringing in foreign workers to take American jobs."

While jobs, jobs and jobs dominated races here in Oregon and across the nation, no one had enough confidence to point out that, here in Oregon about 100,000 illegal aliens are working and 200,000 Oregonians are unemployed. 

We need to do a better job of connecting the dots.

 

Montana has the right idea

If the citizens of Montana pass LR-121, it will prevent illegal aliens from getting jobs with state agencies, receiving state-issued professional and trade licenses, collecting unemployment benefits, and more.  What a great idea!  In 2013, the Oregon Legislature will be looking at similar bills OFIR is working on and will need your encouragement to pass those bills.  Keep in touch with your Legislators and make certain they are representing the best interests of Oregonians.             Read the LTE in the The Missoulian find out what they are doing in Montana.

Report: Two-Thirds of Jobs Under Obama Went to Immigrants

Two-thirds of those who have found employment under President Obama are immigrants, both legal and illegal, according to an analysis that suggests immigration has soaked up a large portion of what little job growth there has been over the past three years.

The Center for Immigration Studies is releasing the study Thursday morning, a day ahead of the final Labor Department unemployment report of the campaign season, which is expected to show a sluggish job market more than three years into the economic recovery.

That slow market, combined with the immigration numbers, could explain why Mr. Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have struggled to find a winning jobs message in some of the country's hardest-hit postindustrial regions.

"It's extraordinary that most of the employment growth in the last four years has gone to the foreign-born, but what's even more extraordinary is the issue has not even come up during a presidential election that is so focused on jobs," said Steven A. Camarota, the center's research director, who wrote the report along with demographer Karen Zeigler.

His numbers are stark: Since the first quarter of 2009, the number of immigrants of working age (16 to 65) who are employed has risen 2 million, from 21.2 million to 23.2 million. During the same time, native-born employment has risen just 1 million, to reach 119.9 million.

It's a trend years in the making: Immigrants are working more, and native-born Americans are working less.

In 2000, 76 percent of natives aged 18 to 65 were employed, but that dropped steadily to 69 percent this September. By contrast, immigrants started the last decade at 71 percent employment and rose to a peak of 74 percent at the height of the George W. Bush-era economic boom. They since have slid down to 69 percent amid the sluggish economy.

Competitive advantage

The Center for Immigration Studies, which wants the government to impose stricter limits on immigration, based its numbers on the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, which favors letting the markets rather than the government control the flow of immigration, said Mr. Camarota's numbers are "making a mountain out of a molehill."

He said delving into specific numbers explains why immigrants have done better over the past four years: They generally gravitate toward parts of the economy that have picked up faster in the nascent recovery.

"Most of the areas of the U.S. economy that are hiring right now, like agriculture and high-tech industries, are those where immigrants have always been overly represented," Mr. Nowrasteh said.

He also said immigrants are quicker to jump into the rebounding job market while native-born Americans, who under federal law have more welfare options and access to unemployment benefits, are slower to find work.

Mr. Nowrasteh and Mr. Camarota said another factor could be immigrants' mobility.

Natives have roots wherever they live, and it may take higher wages to get them to move for jobs, even if their homes are in depressed areas. Immigrants already have uprooted themselves and can more easily pick places where jobs are available.

Indeed, Mr. Camarota's numbers show that most of the immigrant employment growth went to new arrivals, not to foreign-born residents already in the United States — a figure that suggests immigrants already settled here were having some of the same difficulties as the native-born.

There is some bright news: an uptick over the past year among native-born Americans accounting for two-thirds of all new employment growth.

Full overhaul

Net immigration — both legal and illegal — averaged more than 1.1 million in the 1990s and slightly less than 900,000 in the past decade.

Mr. Camarota said it didn't slow much despite the economic downturn.

"We have a situation where the job market — the bottom fell out, yet we kept legal immigration relatively high without even a national debate," he said. "As a consequence, a lot of the job growth has been going to immigrants."

Immigration has been a touchy political issue for more than a decade, and while all sides agree that the system is broken, efforts to overhaul it in 2006 and 2007 fell short.

This campaign, Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have talked about streamlining the legal immigration system to allow in more high-tech workers. Mr. Romney has said he wants to "staple a green card" to every advanced degree in science, mathematics or engineering earned by an immigrant.

Beyond that, Mr. Obama has vowed to make legalizing illegal immigrants a major push in a second term — and has said if he wins re-election, he thinks Republicans will embrace that goal, realizing that otherwise, Hispanic voters will reject the GOP.

Mr. Romney has talked about legalizing a small number of illegal immigrants, though he has been studiously vague about his specific plans in an effort to try not to alienate voters on either side of the issue.

Mr. Obama did take action this year to grant many illegal immigrants up to 30 years of age a tentative legal status that prevents them from being deported and authorizes them to work in the United States.

Some Republicans in Congress have criticized Mr. Obama's policy, saying it violates his powers and will mean more competition for scarce jobs.

Mr. Romney has said he would not rescind any stays of deportation that Mr. Obama issues but wouldn't issue any new ones himself.

The current system doles out legal visas based on family ties or employment prospects or even a random lottery designed to increase the diversity of those coming to the United States.

In 2007, senators proposed scrapping the legal system and replacing it with a points-based system that would assign a desirability grade to would-be immigrants. Work skills would have gained under that system.

But that proposal, along with the rest of the bill, collapsed amid a bipartisan Senate filibuster.

Mr. Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute said those decisions shouldn't be left up to bureaucrats anyway.

"The government can't pick winners and losers when it comes to green-energy firms like Solyndra, so what makes you think it can pick winners and losers when it comes to immigration?" he asked rhetorically.

© Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC

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