OFIR

Illegal immigration foes move to bypass liberal legislatures, take anti-sanctuary measures to voters

There’s virtually no chance that the uber-progressive Oregon legislature would ever repeal the state’s oldest-in-the-nation sanctuary law, which is why locals worried about illegal immigration have turned to the voters.
 
The Stop Oregon Sanctuaries campaign submitted roughly 110,000 signatures last week to qualify an anti-sanctuary measure for the November ballot, more than the 88,000 required, stunning liberal activists and laying the groundwork for a landmark ballot battle.
 
“This has national ramifications and our opponents know that,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which led the petition drive. “The thing that people don’t realize is that very seldom do citizens get to vote on immigration issues. They’re always legislated upon us. And that’s particularly the case in Oregon. We never get a say.”
 
Oregon may be ahead of the game, but efforts to bypass lawmakers and bring sanctuary repeals before the voters are gaining interest as the number of jurisdictions adopting measures aimed at thwarting federal immigration law explodes....
 
After signatures were submitted for Stop Oregon Sanctuaries, foes held press conferences in Portland and Salem to unveil Oregonians United Against Profiling, a coalition of more than 80 groups aimed at defeating the proposal, known as Initiative Petition 22....
 
Ms. Kendoll disputed the racial-profiling charge. “This doesn’t have anything to do with race in anyway shape or form, but that’s always the card they play because they’ve got nothing else,” she said.
 
She said she fully expects to be outspent if the measure qualifies—the opposition has already lined up support from Nike, Columbia Sportswear and labor unions—but she also knows how to win a campaign on a shoestring budget.
 
In 2014, her group qualified a veto referendum of Oregon’s newly passed law giving driver cards to illegal immigrants. Voters repealed the state law by 66 to 34 percent, even though Ms. Kendoll said her side was out-fundraised by 11 to 1.
 
“When we did Measure 88 they were very confident, even cocky, that they had the state sewn up,” she said. “And they just got blown away. So this time I think they’re going, ‘We can’t let that happen again.’”
 
Going the initiative route means doing it the hard way, she said, but organizers have little choice in deep-blue Oregon.
 
“The only way to move the needle at all in this state is via the initiative process,” Ms. Kendoll said. “It’s very grassroots, it’s very time-consuming, but we collected signatures from every corner of this state, and people are just fed up. They’re fed up with policies that have carved out a niche, a protected class of people that are here illegally. Why are we doing that?”
 
As a result, she said, “we have no doubt that if this qualifies for the ballot that it will pass.”...

 

Sanctuary Law Repeal Committee Submits Signatures to Secretary of State

Today, the Repeal Oregon Sanctuary Law Committee announces that it has submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State the signatures needed to likely qualify Initiative Petition 22 as a measure on the November 2018 statewide ballot.  The measure will give voters the opportunity to overturn Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, the state's illegal-immigrant de facto sanctuary law.

Oregon State Representatives Esquivel, Barreto and Nearman are Chief Petitioners of the initiative and Cynthia Kendoll is authorized agent and President of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which spearheaded the signature-gathering effort.

"This afternoon, our committee took a huge step toward repealing Oregon's sanctuary statute and thereby freeing our police and sheriffs to cooperate more easily with federal immigration authorities enforcing U.S. immigration law," said Kendoll.

"Today was the culmination of a year-long volunteer effort.  Across the state, hundreds of grassroots Oregonians worked to garner the signatures of tens of thousands of voters.  All are eager to end Oregon's sanctuary policies that shield people, even criminal aliens, in our country illegally and to see their state do its part to combat illegal immigration."

"Lately, a tiny, but loud, minority of open-borders radicals have grabbed the media's attention with unruly, disruptive street demonstrations," added OFIR Communications Director Jim Ludwick.  "This November, Oregonians who support the rule of law will demonstrate too -- not with noise, disruptions and threats, but with their votes, via Oregon's fair, orderly system of direct democracy.  And we're confident they'll choose to repeal the state's dangerous sanctuary law."

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, founded in 2000, engages voters and representatives at all levels of government for immigration policies that serve the interests of U.S. citizens, including an end to illegal immigration and reductions in legal immigration to more sustainable levels.   In 2014, the group spearheaded Ballot Measure 88 through which Oregon voters rejected illegal-immigrant driving privileges. 
 
This Friday, July 6, (8 am to noon), OFIR will have a signature drop-off site on the steps of the State Capitol building in Salem, to allow persons who haven’t already sent in their signature sheets to get them in.   Look for the American flags honoring all those who have collected signatures.

When IP 22 is qualified for the November ballot, Oregon will be the only state to have the opportunity to end their state’s sanctuary policies that shield criminal aliens. 

110,000+ Oregonians Help Make The Arc Of History Bend Toward Immigration Sanity

Last Thursday and Friday, July 5th and 6th, the stalwarts of Oregonians for Immigration Reform [OFIR] submitted to their Secretary of State more than 110,000 signatures from registered voters. Their aim: Qualify for November's ballot an initiative IP 22 that would allow voters to repeal Oregon's statewide sanctuary policy that heavily restricts cooperation between Oregon law enforcement and the federal immigration agencies. (In late May, I reported on their efforts here.)


OFIR booth

 

As the number of signatures required was 88,184, OFIR has likely succeeded in the signature-gathering phase of their herculean task and must now embark on "making the sale" on IP 22 to all of the state's voters. But the OFIR-ites won't be certain of this first-step success until the Secretary of State has confirmed that enough of the signatures gathered are valid.

On July 8th, I spoke by phone with OFIR Communications Director (and founding President) Jim Ludwick, whom I have known for several years. Jim, who is also a veteran of OFIR's triumphant 2013 - 2014 "NO on 88" citizens'-veto campaign to nullify driver's cards for illegal aliens, was most impressed with the urgency many of his late-responding fellow citizens exhibited over getting their signatures in by the July 6th deadline. "On the steps at the state capitol Friday we had state employees come out to us to sign. We had truck drivers who were servicing the building sign. We had state police sign," he said. "There were people driving 60 miles each way to drop off one-line signature sheets."

"I wish everyone could see how frantic some registered voters were to get their signatures counted so that IP 22 will get on the ballot," Jim added. "There's a sense that ordinary folks are beginning to grasp what the future will be if we don't push back effectively. They know this country is at a tipping point. A lot of these people have been sitting on the sidelines, intimidated about being called 'racist.' The usual ..."

Indeed, there was active intimidation that affected how voters' signatures were obtained. Jim explained that more than 100,000 of the signatures OFIR collected were gathered by volunteers with clipboards or by people downloading single-signature petition forms from the web and mailing them in (or making a last-minute drive to the capitol in Salem!). Meanwhile, fewer than 10,000 signatures resulted from the work of paid signature-collectors because, Jim explained, the best venue for that activity is metro Portland, "where it became exceedingly nasty to collect signatures, especially for women."

Jim is quite optimistic that the 110,445 signatures OFIR submitted will yield the needed 88,184 valid signatures. That would require an 80-percent validity rate, well below the 93-percent validity rate OFIR achieved in the signature-gathering stage of 2014's "NO on 88" campaign. Nevertheless, he and the others in OFIR's battle-tested crew must wait, nervously, to hear from Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

It's fortunate that they're battle-tested, as Jim expects that "The other side is about to pull out every dirty trick in the book." The dirty tricks will presumably be the work of "Oregonians united against profiling," an umbrella organization established on July 6th, according to an email forwarded to me. With their name presumably also announcing their approach, we can expect a campaign of distortion along the lines of that in 2010 associated with Arizona's SB 1070 law of phony "Papers, please!"-hysteria fame.

It's hard to conjure a nexus between racial profiling and anti-sanctuary policies, so "Ouap" already looks like it's grasping at straws—on their "Get the Facts" page, they trot out this indictment of OFIR and of the Federation for American Immigration Reform:

The groups behind the effort to throw out Oregon’s existing Sanctuary law are Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) and the Federation of Immigration Reform (FAIR). Both groups have been designated extremist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Going to the link they provide lands you on a typical SPLC point-and-splutter page.

Meanwhile, assuming the signature-gathering campaign has succeeded, IP 22 will apparently be the only statewide immigration-related ballot measure in the country this fall. Immigration patriots nationwide can keep tabs on the campaign via the OFIR website and the related Stop Oregon Sanctuaries website.

 


 

Related

The SPLC File - An Exclusive Report on the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Social Contract, Spring, 2018.

Oregon Anti-Sanctuary City Advocates Face Lawfare, Threats, Physical Intimidation

A group gathering signatures to repeal the Oregon law that makes the state a defacto sanctuary for illegal aliens has faced legal action, threats, and harassment of its signature gatherers. The group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), has also been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
 
One volunteer signature gatherer told PJ Media that she faced verbal harassment and physical intimidation while attempting to get folks to sign the petition:
 
She claimed that our petition was dividing America. Putting fear in Hispanics. She called me a racist, lectured me for some time about how she wanted me to stop what I was doing, we were racists because we were all white, and hateful, and unwanted by society. I told her that many people who had immigrated here legally were our biggest supporters. She said she couldn't imagine anyone even wanting to support and associate with us.
 
In addition, she says opponents physically blocked her when people approached her to sign the petition.
 
Now, in an apparently frivolous legal matter, the University of Oregon has issued a cease and desist order for alleged copyright infringement. The cease and desist letter threatens legal action if OFIR fails to stop using the Oregonians for Immigration Reform "O" (with the tree inside) because the University of Oregon’s lawyers says they received evidence from Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), a radical University of Oregon student group, that claims it is too similar to the University of Oregon's "O," essentially trying to halt its signature-gathering campaign.
 
OFIR states that it has had the same logo since 2000, and the only person or entity to complain in 18 years has been MEChA. Notably, MEChA appears to be using trademark law to stifle political opponents by stating that they don’t like the politics of OFIR and urging the U of O to take action against the group.
 
The ballot initiative, IP 22, has three Republican state legislators as chief sponsors: Mike Nearman, Sal Esquivel, and Greg Barreto. A spokesman for OFIR would not say how many signatures they have collected so far, but expressed confidence that they are on target to submit a significant number by the deadline of July 6....
 
Note that the change to the statute would simply allow Oregon state agencies to comply with federal immigration law.
 
For this, everyone involved has been branded a racist, white supremacist, and even a member of a hate group – as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
 
Previous failures to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have led to disastrous consequences for Oregon residents, like the rape victim in a nice neighborhood of Portland in 2017....
 

 

Related
 
 

Tax And Anti-Immigration Measures See Movement As Filing Deadline Nears

... Supporters of a controversial initiative to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary law appeared closer to qualifying for the November ballot.

Oregonians For Immigration Reform turned in 105,000 signatures, according to the group’s president, Cynthia Kendoll. She said backers are also urging petitioners to bring additional signatures to the state Capitol on Friday morning to try to pad their margin.
 
The group needs 88,184 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot. That gives them a current margin of error of 19 percent, which might not be enough.
 
“I will feel good when we are approved,” Kendoll said. “I’m a worry-wart.”
 
The measure could attract national attention. President Donald Trump has railed against local and state sanctuary laws that limit how much local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration authorities....

Signatures submitted for petition to repeal Oregon's immigration sanctuary status

Petitioners for an initiative that would undo Oregon's sanctuary state status for undocumented immigrants submitted 105,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office Thursday afternoon.
 
The Secretary of State must certify that 88,184 of those signatures are valid for Initiative Petition 22 to appear before voters in November. Signatures can be submitted until 5 p.m. Friday.
 
"This afternoon, our committee took a huge step toward repealing Oregon's sanctuary statute and thereby freeing our police and sheriffs to cooperate more easily with federal immigration authorities enforcing U.S. immigration law," said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.
 
It could be several weeks before it's known if IP 22 has enough valid signatures to qualify. The initiative was filed in April 2017 and signature gathering began in October.
 
The law the initiative aims to remove bars Oregon law enforcement agencies from arresting individuals whose only crime is violating federal immigration law.
 
The chief petitioners for the proposal are three Republican state representatives — Mike Nearman of Independence, Sal Esquivel of Medford and Greg Barreto of Pendleton. Oregonians for Immigration Reform managed the signature gathering....

University Of Oregon Attacks OFIR

Alert date: 
2018-05-17
Alert body: 

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON'S TRADEMARK-INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT THREAT FRIVOLOUS, POSSIBLY POLITICALLY MOTIVATED,  ALLEGES OREGONIANS FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the state's largest group advocating for immigration reductions, today condemned the University of Oregon for threatening to sue the group for trademark infringement.

"Last week, the University of Oregon notified OFIR that it would sue if our group did not immediately stop using the letter 'O,' with a depiction of a fir tree inside it, as part of our logo," said Cynthia Kendoll, OFIR's president.  "Our 'O,' the university claims, too closely resembles the 'O' it uses as its own logo."  Images of both logos appear at the end of this release.

"This is ridiculous," continued Kendoll.  "The 'O' in our logo and in the university's are in different fonts.  Our 'O,' unlike the university's, features a graphic inside.

"How, on the mere basis of a capital 'O' in both our logos, could any reasonable person confuse OFIR with the University of Oregon -- or believe the institutions are affiliated?  Does the university really believe it has the right to trademark a letter of the alphabet?

"Most importantly, do Oregonians want the state's flagship institution of higher learning to use their hard-earned tax money to bully an all-volunteer citizens' group over such a trivial matter?"

OFIR communications director Jim Ludwick suggested that politics, not trademark infringement, may be the real reason the university issued its lawsuit threat.

"In its cease-and-desist letter to OFIR, the university mentioned as one reason for its action the Southern Poverty Law Center's recent classification of OFIR as a 'hate' group," said Ludwick.  "But if the university had conducted even a cursory examination of the SPLC's tactics, it would have found the outfit exists mainly to smear patriotic Americans as 'racists' and 'xenophobes.'  Even mainstream liberals agree the SPLC inhabits the left-wing fringe.  If the university's lawsuit threat was truly about trademark infringement, why would its letter to us have mentioned the SPLC?"

In 2014, Ludwick noted, OFIR activists referred a measure to the statewide ballot via which Oregonians rejected illegal-alien driving privileges by a two-to-one margin.  This year, he continued, the group is collecting voters' signatures in an effort to qualify yet another measure -- to repeal the state's illegal-alien sanctuary law -- for this November's ballot.  "Given our record of success fighting illegal immigration in the political realm," asked Ludwick, "might the real reason for the university's action be to distract OFIR's attention from its ballot-measure campaign -- and thereby to chill a volunteer group's effort to influence public policy via direct democracy?"

"If so," concluded Ludwick, "it won't work.  We'll continue our fight against illegal immigration.  We'll get our measure onto the ballot.  And we'll continue to use the logo we use today."

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, founded in 2000, undertakes public-policy action to cut the excessive levels of legal immigration and end illegal immigration.

OFIR meeting Saturday, April 14 2:00pm

Alert date: 
2018-04-11
Alert body: 

Invite a friend and plan to attend OFIR's upcoming meeting Saturday, April 14th from 2:00 - 4:00pm.

Learn what's new with Initiative Petition #22 - to Repeal Oregon's sanctuary statute and find out what YOU can do to help get the initiative to the ballot this fall.  Learn more at www.StopOregonSanctuaries.org

Dan Laschober, candidate for House District 26 will join us.  All candidates are welcome.  If a candidate would like time to speak, please contact us in advance of the meeting.  If a candidate drops in and there is time at the end of the meeting, they will be given TWO minutes to introduce themselves to the group. Remember, please, OFIR is a non-partisan, single issue organization and we do not endorse candidates.

The primary elections are just around the corner.  This is a critical election and OFIR encourages everyone to be certain your voter registration is current and that you are well educated on the candidates and their positions on issues important to you.

Volunteer to work on a campaign, ask questions of candidates you are uncertain of, contact them via their website to confirm opinions you have about the candidate.  It's your responsibility to be educated before you vote.  And, it is critical that you VOTE!

We hope to see you at the meeting Saturday, April 14 at 2:00pm at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn - across from Costco in Salem, Oregon.

 

 

OFIR to host CIS policy director on heels of hate group designation

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an organization that calls for an end to illegal immigration, will host the Center for Immigration Studies policy director in its general membership meeting this Saturday.

Jessica Vaughan will discuss sanctuary policies that are being developed in the face of President Donald Trump's immigration orders, and the implications of those orders, which has included targeted deportations of undocumented immigrants in Oregon.

Vaughan's speaking engagement comes a little over a month after the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Center for Immigration Studies as a hate group, specifically labeling it as anti-immigrant. The law center said the group was dubbed a hate group because it shares content by "white nationalists, Holocaust deniers and material from explicitly racist websites."

Cynthia Kendoll, president of OFIR, said the designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center "means nothing to me. I think that any time a group is being successful and is making good points and providing education, they’re designated as a hate group.

"I think SPLC has gone off the rails."

Kendoll, who met Vaughan while attending a tour of the United States-Mexico border as part of the El Paso National Sheriff's Border School, said the hate group designation proves CIS is doing useful work and should be considered a "badge of honor."

Some local civil rights organizations, however, said Vaughan's attendance merely adds fuel to the testy political climate in Oregon.

"It's particularly troubling because we see a rise in hate crimes here in Oregon with the hateful rhetoric that they and Trump have publicly stated," said Andrea Williams, executive director of immigrant rights organization Causa Oregon.

Kendoll said OFIR is commonly referred to as an anti-immigrant group as well, but said that moniker doesn't describe the organization's values and objectives.

Instead, Kendoll said, OFIR is concerned about the consequences of legal and illegal immigration. OFIR's focus has shifted from its initial focus of "unfettered, unchecked" immigration and its impact on issues like traffic, urban sprawl and water usage, and expanded its scope to include impacts on issues like crime, school overcrowding and use of entitlement programs.

She said OFIR is nonpartisan its goal to explore immigration's impacts, and it invites speakers of different backgrounds to speak at membership meetings.

"We're not policy setters. All we're doing is simply giving people the opportunity to learn about what's going on," Kendoll said.

One of OFIR's more high-profile guests, Kendoll said, was former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio was the keynote speaker at a rally on the Oregon State Capitol steps in 2015 and discussed immigration, gun laws and crime policy. He was accused of violating Latino civil rights in a racial-profiling lawsuit in 2013 for pulling over Latinos over suspicion of being undocumented. The Department of Justice subsequently filed a criminal contempt of court charge against Arpaio for continuing to detain suspected undocumented immigrants without probable cause.

Williams said OFIR's history of giving people like Arpaio and Vaughan a platform invites the community to spread negativity amongst its undocumented immigrant neighbors.

But Kendoll said Vaughan's visit is merely showcasing her decades-long work examining the impact of immigration in the United States.

If you go

Who: Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies

What: Oregonians for Immigration Reform's General Membership meeting

When: Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Best Western Mill Creek Inn at 3125 Ryan Drive SE, Salem

The event is free. Guests will be asked to sign in upon arriving.

License to discriminate?

Many discussions about unequal justice in the United States focus on the disproportionate number of African Americans — particularly young black men — who end up in our jails and prisons. Our review of 5.5 million state court records showed that same pattern in Oregon. But another set of data also jumped out: a spike in driving violations among Latino drivers.

Our search into the cause of that disparity lead us back to 2001, when two men — Bob Terry and Jim Ludwick — were on opposite sides of an old argument that had taken a dramatic turn.

This week we explore a decision made more than a decade ago and its consequences, which are only now being fully understood.


Bob Terry, former head of the state nursery growers association, says agricultural workers need to be able to legally drive, regardless of their immigration status.

Bob Terry flew home from Washington, D.C., in early September 2001, confident that a long-negotiated immigration reform deal was imminent. Then a member of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, Terry had a stake is making sure his members' employees — many of whom he guessed had entered the country illegally — had more than job security. They needed a path to citizenship.

"I was sitting down with Ted Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein — just a whole host, including Cesar Chavez's son — to try and get the immigration bill worked through," said Terry, a Republican who later became a Washington County commissioner. "And it was ready to go. It was going to go that Friday. And then 9/11 happened."

Stories saturated the media of how 19 men had come into the United States from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt and boarded planes using illegally obtained driver's licenses. It was just the fuel Jim Ludwick needed.

Ludwick had moved to Oregon from California three decades earlier and bought 40 acres in the hills west of McMinnville, where he built a house with windows to look out on the Yamhill Valley.

In 2000, after retiring from a career as a pharmaceutical salesman, Ludwick launched Oregonians for Immigration Reform to lobby for laws that would make Oregon a less-welcoming place for undocumented immigrants and immigrants who didn't assimilate. At the time, Oregon didn't require residents to show proof of legal immigration status when applying for a driver's license. Ludwick made changing that the priority of his new group.

Lawmakers, however, didn't want to be seen talking to him at first.

"A senator would walk by, and I'd introduce myself and tell him why I was there: 'I'm opposed to driver's licenses for illegal aliens,' " Ludwick said. "And he'd say, 'I agree with you, but it's too hot of an issue.' And that's the way it was for the first couple of years."

What finally changed the conversation wasn't a shift in attitude about Latino residents, but a post-9/11 focus on border security.

The federal Real ID Act of 2005 required states to restrict driver's licenses to those who could prove they were here legally. Many states, including California, already required proof of legal status. Most others moved toward compliance, while some — like Utah — opted for a two-tiered system, granting formal licenses to those who could produce legal documentation, and a limited drivers' card (which can't be used as federal identification or to board a plane) to those who could not.

'Are we really doing the right thing?'

Oregon grappled with the issue until November 2007, when Gov. Ted Kulongoski issued an executive order calling on state legislators to require that residents prove their legal immigration status to obtain or renew a license.

At a Senate hearing the following February, during the short session, Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, complained the bill had been pushed through with little debate and no chance to offer amendments. A short session — normally reserved for budget adjustments and minor legislative matters, wasn't the time to address serious concerns. And this bill, he said, raised serious "moral and ethical issues."

"I haven't heard anything that makes me feel safe tonight with what we're doing here tonight. The people we are affecting are our friends and neighbors," said Bates, who died last year. "Think long and carefully. Do we really need to do this tonight? And are we really doing the right thing?"

While a few Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, opposed the bill, most joined with Republicans and overwhelmingly agreed it was the right thing.

Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, a Democrat representing an estimated 9,700 noncitizen Latino residents of Gresham, voted for it. "The lax standard of driver's licensing in Oregon has made our state a target for criminal organizations and more vulnerable to identity fraud," she told the Capitol Press.

Senate President Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat whose district included Woodburn and its estimated 6,300 noncitizen Latino residents, did too. Jeff Merkley, then House Speaker who was running for federal office, cast his vote in favor.

Immigrant rights groups turned out more than 15,000 people to rallies at the state Capitol protesting the bill, to no avail. The new law resulted in the most profound change for Latino families in decades. Few lawmakers seemed to forsee the implications of preventing up to 83,000 undocumented workers from getting or renewing their licenses.

"They look at the polling, they read the tea leaves and connect it to their own political careers. It's all about their seat, self-preservation, keeping the majority in the Legislature" said Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa, a Salem-based nonprofit working for immigration rights. "A lot of decisions came down to Gov. Kulongoski. And he made the political decision to restrict drivers' licenses."

Activists like Williams knew Republicans would be less likely to support their cause. But the eagerness of Democrats to join them was a stinging surprise. "Democrats are not being bold on our issues, but they'll at least talk to us," she said. "And then on the driver's license issue, they completely betrayed us."

Kulongoski, contacted at his home, declined to comment. Merkley did not reply to requests for comment.

Monnes Anderson and Courtney said the federal legislation allowed for a driver's cards, like those used in Utah at the time. Both assumed the Legislature would quickly adopt that system in Oregon.

Five years later, they tried.

 KATE WILLSON - Jim Ludwick said it was suprisingly easy to find support for their successful effort to deny driving priveleges to undocumented immigrants.

COURTESY PHOTO: KATE WILLSON - Jim Ludwick said it was suprisingly easy to find support for their successful effort to deny driving priveleges to undocumented immigrants.

Reversing course

Restrictions of driving privileges for undocumented immigrants, which swept the nation after the Real ID Act of 2005, have begun to soften. Today, 12 states and the District of Columbia extend privileges to undocumented residents. They include Washington, California and Nevada.

Oregon lawmakers also tried to reverse course. In May 2013, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law a bipartisan bill allowing for a driver's card distinct from the formal license that would allow people to drive legally without proving citizenship.

The logic was that it would ensure drivers knew how to drive and allow them to get insurance, which most agencies refused to sell without a valid license. But the card couldn't be used for federal purposes such as to board a plane.

Ludwick saw Kitzhaber's actions differently: "He wants to allow people to legally drive to jobs they can't legally have, hired by companies that can't legally hire them," Ludwick said.

Within hours, Oregonians for Immigration Reform vowed to take the matter to voters. Privately, Ludwick didn't think they had a chance of collecting enough signatures to get the referendum on the fall ballot. "How do you collect 70,000 to 80,000 signatures in three months?" he said. "If there was a tote board in the rotunda giving odds, we'd be 1,000-to-1 underdogs."

They called on Suzanne Gallagher, then chairwoman of the Republican Party. She promised to get signature sheets to every Republican in the state. Meanwhile, Ludwick and his supporters fanned out to county and state fairs. Ludwick said people were eager to sign.

"They would grab the sheets out of your hand," he said. "We got signatures from places I didn't even know existed. We got 'em from 134 different communities."

The group had more than grass-roots support. Conservative Nevada businessman Loren Parks shelled out $93,172 over five weeks to pay signature gatherers. In the end, the campaign turned in 58,291 valid signatures, squeaking by with a buffer of 149.

In the November 2014 election, voters crushed Measure 88, the Legislature's driving card law, by a 2-1 margin. Every county except Multnomah voted against retaining the law.

"That stunned us," Courtney said. "We didn't think that could happen."

Courtney's support of Measure 88 became an issue in his 2014 re-election campaign, as he battled claims that he supported giving driving privileges to drunken drivers and criminals living here illegally. "It was probably the ugliest racial issue I've seen since I lived in the South," said Courtney, who was re-elected that year with 54 percent of the vote.

Mike Nearman, a software engineer from Independence, said he wore out two pairs of shoes volunteering 11-hour shifts at the Oregon State Fair to oppose Measure 88.

He said his efforts were targeting people who didn't come into the United States legally.

"I wish everyone could live under the freedoms I enjoy. I don't begrudge anyone, but we just need to do it legally," he said. "What we have right now is not the best and the brightest, but the boldest and the baddest, whoever's willing to jump the fence."

Nearman went on to join the board of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and win election to the state House of Representatives. He's advocating for a repeal of Oregon's restriction on local police from enforcing immigration law.

Gilbert Carrasco, a Willamette Law School professor and former civil rights litigator for the federal Department of Justice, said the legislation to require drivers to provide proof of legal status to obtain a license doesn't make sense.

"The argument was, 'They shouldn't be here,'" he recalled. "Well, they're here. They're not going anywhere. Now we're in a situation where people are unlicensed, they haven't been tested" by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

And many are uninsured.

"It hurts the people who voted for that law. That's the irony," he said. "At some point, if the Legislature, if the people, don't revisit it, I think the courts will."

You end up in trouble

Advocacy groups haven't given up on the concept of a driver's card, and they continue to pin down lawmakers on their positions.

Sen. Monnes Anderson, for one, would support it. "Obviously, we're all better off when everyone who is driving a car that is licensed and insured," she said.

Sen. Courtney is frustrated by the Legislature's inability to respond to the voters' rejection of the driver's card. "We are really struggling to break through on that," he said.

Washington County commissioner Terry watched the 2008 legislative vote to restrict licenses and the 2014 referral to vote down driver cards with frustration. A prominent and active Republican, he sees the past 16 years as a wasted opportunity and isn't optimistic about the future of immigration reform in Oregon.

"As a state, we were foolish and didn't accomplish anything," he said. "We're not really managing that issue. And any time you don't manage an issue, you end up in trouble."

INVESTIGATEWEST/PMG

INVESTIGATEWEST/PMG


TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown faces a legal challenge by immigrants who are fighting a 2014 public vote against drivers' cards that they say violated their 14th Amendment rights.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown faces a legal challenge by immigrants who are fighting a 2014 public vote against drivers' cards that they say violated their 14th Amendment rights.

Driver's license law tested in court

During last year's election, Gov. Kate Brown reiterated her support for granting driving privileges regardless of immigration status. "I've always supported this right and always will," her campaign said in a statement to the advocacy group Causa.

Despite her personal view, Brown is the top elected state official, and as such was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in November 2015 by five undocumented longtime residents who claimed that the 2014 public vote against drivers' cards violated their 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law. The vote was "motivated by racial animus against persons from Mexico and Central America," the lawsuit claimed.

Brown was forced to defend a law she opposed, as the state argued it couldn't invalidate a law Oregon voters passed, or force implementation of a bill that never went into effect.

Six months later, in May 2016, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken dismissed the lawsuit, which is now pending appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

 
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