Oregon Legislature

Oregon Legislature poised to act inspite of citizen's vote

I thought OFIR had uncovered a real gem when Mike Nearman, Polk County Republican Chairman, enthusiastically jumped in to help with the PODL citizen's veto referendum to overturn SB833.

I knew we were very fortunate when Mike agreed to attend one of our OFIR Board meetings as a potential future Board member.

I was thrilled when he agreed to join our OFIR Board and continued to work on the PODL campaign. 

And, even better than that, we're so fortunate that, even after being elected State Representative in District 23, Mike has agreed to still actively serve on our OFIR Board.

Mike has written a telling article for The Oregon Catalyst.



Seven Year Report: Criminal Aliens Incarcerated Oregon Department

According to the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Inmate Population Profile dated October 1, 2014 DOC indicated there were 14,606 prisoners incarcerated in DOC’s 14 prisons (See attachment).

Not included in DOC’s October 1st Inmate Population Profile was DOC data indicating there were 1,086 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) incarcerated in its prison system (See attachment).

All 1,086 criminal aliens incarcerated on October 1st by DOC had United States (U.S.) Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detainers. The U.S. DHS–ICE is responsible for identifying whether a DOC inmate is a criminal alien or a domestic inmate. If an inmate is identified as being a criminal alien, at U.S. DHS–ICE’s request, the DOC places an “ICE detainer” on the inmate that directs DOC officials to transfer custody to ICE following completion of the inmate’s state sanction.

Criminal aliens made up approximately 7.43% of the DOC October 1st prison population (See table).



DOC Total Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC % Inmates W/ICE detainers

October 1, 2007





October 1, 2008





October 1, 2009





October 1, 2010





October 1, 2011





October 1, 2012





October 1, 2013





October 1, 2014





Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 OCTOBER 07rtf – 01 OCTOBER 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 OCTOBER 07 – 01 OCTOBER 14.

Comparing DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers from October 1, 2007 (985 criminal aliens) and October 1, 2014 (1,086 criminal aliens), the DOC prison system incarcerated 101 criminal aliens more than it did on October 1, 2007, a 10.25% increase (See table).



DOC Total Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

October 1, 2007




October 1, 2008




October 1, 2009




October 1, 2010




October 1, 2011




October 1, 2012




October 1, 2013




October 1, 2014







Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 OCTOBER 07rtf – 01 OCTOBER 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 OCTOBER 07 – 01 OCTOBER 14.

When comparing DOC domestic criminal incarceration numbers from October 1, 2007 (12,568 domestic criminals) and October 1, 2014 (13,520 domestic criminals), the DOC prison system incarcerated 952 domestic criminals more than it did on October 1, 2007, a 7.57% increase (See table).



DOC Total Domestic Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Domestic Inmates % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

October 1, 2007




October 1, 2008




October 1, 2009




October 1, 2010




October 1, 2011




October 1, 2012




October 1, 2013




October 1, 2014







Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 OCTOBER 07rtf – 01 OCTOBER 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 OCTOBER 07 – 01 OCTOBER 14.

Bringing the preceding numbers together, from October 1st 2007– 2014, seven years, the DOC prison population grew by 1,053 domestic and criminal alien prisoners; 9.59% of the overall growth was in criminal alien prisoners.

A review of the 1,086 criminal aliens in DOC prisons by number per county and percentage (%) per county equated to the following: 263-Marion (24.22%); 258-Multnomah (23.76%); 184-Washington (16.94%); 79-Clackamas (7.27%); 54-Lane (4.97%); 49-Jackson (4.51%); 29-Yamhill (2.67%); 26-Linn (2.39%); 19-Umatilla (1.75%); 17-Deschutes (1.56%); 15-Polk (1.38%); 14-Benton (1.29%); 12-Malheur (1.10%); 10-Lincoln (0.92%); 9-Jefferson (0.83%); 8-Klamath (0.74%); 7-Douglas (0.64%); 5-Josephine (0.46%); 5-Morrow (0.46%); 4-Coos (0.37%); 3-Clatsop (0.28%); 3-Hood River (0.28%); 3-Tillamook (0.28%); 3-Wasco (0.28%); 2-Crook (0.18%); 2-Union (0.18); 1-Columbia (0.09%); 1-Gilliam (0.09%); 1-OOS (0.09%); 0-Baker (0.00%); 0-Curry (0.00%); 0-Grant (0.00%); 0-Harney (0.00%); 0-Lake (0.00); 0-Sherman (0.00%); 0-Wallowa (0.00%); and 0-Wheeler (0.00%).

No member of the Oregon State Legislature should forget the uncounted crime victims and their families, no matter what their immigration status, all victims of the 1,086 criminal aliens incarcerated in DOC prisons.

A review of the 1,086 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers per crime and percentage (%) per crime equated to the following: 200-sex abuses (18.42%); 172-rapes (15.84%); 159-drugs (14.64%); 144-homicides (13.26%); 98-assaults (9.02%); 98-sodomies (9.02%); 66-robberies (6.08%); 42-kidnappings (3.87%); 21-burglaries (1.93%); 14-thefts (1.29%); 11-driving offenses (1.01%); 3-vehicle thefts (0.28%); 1-arsons (0.09%); 1-forgery (0.09%); and 56 other types of crime or a combination of the preceding crimes (5.16%).

Oregon State Legislators should not overlook the source of the preceding crimes, the country of origin of the 1,086 criminal aliens in DOC prisons.

The self-declared counties of origin of the 1,086 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers and percentage (%) per country equated to the following: 873-Mexico (80.39%); 32-Guatemala (2.95%); 19-Vietnam (1.75%); 16-El Salvador (1.47%); 12-Cuba (1.10%); 11-Honduras (1.01%); 10-Russia (0.92%); 10-Ukraine (0.92%); 8-Federated States of Micronesia (0.74%); 6-Laos (0.55%); 6-Philippines (0.55%); and 83 from other counties (7.64%).

Beyond the DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers and incarceration percentages, per county and per crime type, or even country of origin, criminal aliens pose high economic cost on Oregonians.

An individual prisoner incarcerated in the DOC prison system costs the state approximately ($87.08) per day (See link).


The DOC’s incarceration cost for its 1,086 criminal alien prison population is approximately ($94,568.88) per day, ($661,982.16) per week, and ($34,517,641.20) per year.

Even taking into account fiscal year 2013 United States Federal Government State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) award of $2,146,935.00, if the State of Oregon receives the same amount of SCAAP funding for fiscal year 2014, the cost to incarcerate 1,086 criminal aliens to the DOC will be at least ($32,370,706.20) (See link).


None of preceding cost estimates for the DOC to incarcerate the 1,086 criminal aliens include the dollar amount for legal services (indigent defense), court costs, nor cost estimates to cover victim assistance.

An unfortunate fact, the State of Oregon is not fully cooperating with the U.S. DHS–ICE to fight crime committed by criminal aliens who reside in Oregon.

In year 2007, a United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) report titled “Cooperation of SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) Recipients in the Removal of Criminal Aliens from the United States, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General Audit Division, Audit Report 07-07, October 2007, Redacted-Public Version” identified the State of Oregon as having an official “state sanctuary statute,” ORS 181.850 Enforcement of federal immigration laws (See link).


The USDOJ, the federal governments top law enforcement agency, identified Oregon as a “sanctuary” for criminal aliens.

An Oregon law, Oregon Revised Statue 181.850 (ORS 181.850), Section (1), prohibits Oregon law enforcement (Oregon State Police (OSP), county sheriffs, city police departments) from asking immigration status of anyone residing in the State of Oregon “for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Under ORS 181.850, Section (2), Oregon law enforcement October exchange information with U.S. DHS–ICE . . . “in order to: Subsection (a), “Verify the immigration status of a person if the person is arrested for any criminal offense;” or, Subsection (b), “Request criminal investigation information with reference to persons named in records of the” U.S. DHS–ICE . . . (See link).


The State of Oregon should no longer be classified by U.S. federal government law enforcement as having an official “state sanctuary statute” for criminal aliens, nor should Oregon be a sanctuary for criminal aliens to kill, rape, maim or abuse Oregonians.

Didn't Obama Hear Oregon’s Warning Shot on Immigration?

Will Democrats ever realize that increased immigration is not only bad policy, but a political loser as well?

“We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists” said Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural. It was a gracious touch, a rhetorical olive branch to his vanquished foes. Too bad he didn’t mean it.

Jefferson immediately went about killing off the party of his longtime nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, while his vice president, Aaron Burr, went about killing Hamilton.

After last week’s midterm election, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell offered similar rhetorical olive branches. While it’s unlikely the president and the senator from Kentucky will face off on the dueling grounds of Weehawken, their words of equanimity were about as sincere as Thomas Jefferson’s back in 1801.

In his post-debacle presser, President Obama told the nation “I hear you.” But while the president said all the right things about working with the new Republican reality in Washington, he also offered two thorns for every rose pedal.

Once again President Obama threatened executive action on immigration if “Congress won’t act.”

But Congress did act on immigration. The House refusal to pass the Senate’s 2013 Pathway to Citizenship bill was an action. The Senate bill was rejected as a byzantine mess presenting a logistical nightmare at best and at worst yet another incentive for millions to migrate to this country illegally.

The president and supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform”—Washington-speak for amnesty for illegal immigrants—might not like the action Congress took, but act they did.

On Nov. 4, the American people validated Congress’s action by re-electing anti-amnesty candidates and adding to their numbers. Senate Democrats who supported the immigration bill went down hard: Arkansas’ Mark Pryor, North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, Alaska’s Mark Begich. And when Louisiana holds its runoff in December, Mary Landrieu will likely join the club despite her recent flip on the Keystone XL pipeline and just about every other issue she had previously supported. If the new edition of Mary Landrieu shows up in the Senate, the Republicans win either way.

In Oregon, one of the bluest of blue states, a state ballot measure may be the canary in the coal mine President Obama ignores at his own peril.

Yet, a draft of a 10-point executive order leaked to Fox News indicates the president plans to grant as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants permission to stay in the country by extending DACA immunity (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to the parents of the so-called DREAMers—kids who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. The president’s action would also apply to the parents of children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants.

To mute the blowback, action could come next week. The first howl you’ll hear will come from Mary Landrieu, who will have a hard time spinning her way past this one.

If President Obama goes down this road, he will be issuing a slap in the face to Senate Republicans that might not result in pistols at 20 paces, but guarantees a political duel to the death once the new Congress convenes in January.

While issues other than immigration contributed to the electoral disaster inflicted on the president’s party, to turn a deaf ear to the anti-amnesty message delivered at the polls is to deny reality.

Case in point: Oregon, one of the bluest of blue states, where a state ballot measure may be the canary in the coal mine President Obama ignores at his own peril.

On May 1, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833, granting undocumented immigrants the right to drive in his state.

But a funny thing happened in the Pacific Northwest: More than 70,000 Oregonians signed a hastily organized petition drive and qualified Measure 88, which would repeal Senate Bill 833, for the November ballot.

Sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an anti-amnesty group, the “Save Oregon’s Driver’s License” campaign scored the most significant anti-amnesty victory ever, beating the pro-driver’s license forces 66 percent to 33 percent. It got more votes, in fact, than either Gov. Kitzhaber or incumbent Democratic Senator Jeff Merkely, who both easily won re-election. It even outpolled a successful pro-pot measure.

In total, 941,042 Oregonians voted to deny driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Does President Obama hear this?

“The public supports a pathway to citizenship” is repeated with the regularity of a metronome by Democrats and the corporatist wing of the Republican Party determined to keep a steady supply of cheap labor flowing into this country. But if you ask the American public a straight up question—“Do you support amnesty for illegal immigrants?”—you get a very different response.

According to an April 2013 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 80 percent of American adults support “stricter border control to try to reduce illegal immigration.” This includes 93 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents, 74 percent of blacks, and a whopping 61 percent of Hispanics.

Polls are only as good as the poll question, and I’m skeptical of nearly every immigration-related poll. But this can be said with certainty: The public clearly supports a secure border, and it’s impossible to just brush off the Oregon vote.

Then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano assured the nation “the border is secure” before leaving to become chancellor of the University of California. President Obama continues to make the irrelevant claim “the border is more secure than ever.” But the truth revealed itself this year when thousands upon thousands of unaccompanied children simply walked to this country. How secure could the border possibly be if 5-year-olds can penetrate it?

We need meaningful immigration reform and we can get it quickly if only the pro-amnesty forces will separate border security from the pathway to citizenship. Secure the border first, as well as America’s ports, harbors, and especially airports—where one-third of undocumented immigrants enter.

Once the administration has demonstrated effective control of the border, then Congress will resolve the myriad other issues related to immigration, starting with normalizing the status of the millions of DREAMers caught in legal limbo through no fault of their own.

But we’ll never have a solution as long as the two parties try to sell both simultaneously.

In 1986 Congress passed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, the so-called Reagan Amnesty that promised border security in exchange for a “one time only” amnesty for 3 million undocumented immigrants.

The immigrants got their amnesty and the United States got 12 million to 20 million more undocumented immigrants.

We cherish the notion that this country is a nation of immigrants and understand the American Dream is regenerated by new arrivals from all over the globe. It’s maybe the most American thing of all.

But Americans also overwhelmingly support the rule of law—and understand a nation that doesn’t control its own borders is a nation in name only.

Thomas Jefferson also warned in his first inaugural that not “every difference of opinion is a difference of principle.” But for millions of Americans, the border debate is matter of principle and won’t be burned a second time on the altar of Democratic Party political expedience or multinational corporate profits.

Oregonians voted for people and issues, not party lines

Last week's election gave me hope for Oregon.

Not because of the overall results. They were unsurprising.

Rather, I am heartened that thousands of Oregonians voted for individuals and issues, instead of along straight party lines.

If you look at county-by-county election results, you'll see vast differences. For example, Marion and Polk counties voted for Republican Dennis Richardson for governor but Democrat Jeff Merkley for U.S. senator.

Measure 88, which would have made driver cards available to undocumented Oregonians, passed in only one county — Multnomah — and lost overwhelmingly statewide. Meanwhile, Measure 89, the state Equal Rights Amendment, was approved statewide amid support in Northwest, Southwest, Central and Northeast Oregon counties. Measure 90, the open or "top-two" primary, lost in every county.

As for Measure 91, legalizing marijuana, Polk and Marion counties voted against it but it passed statewide. Its support was in the Portland metro area, the coast, and Lane, Deschutes and Jackson counties. The measure barely failed in Josephine County.

I worry about what legalization will mean for Oregon.

But I am reassured that Oregonians displayed individuality and independence on Tuesday.

Other thoughts:

• This election season produced some of the worst-run campaigns I've witnessed.

One was Republican Monica Wehby's ill-fated attempt to unseat the liberal's liberal, Jeff Merkley.

Every candidate, especially a challenger, should learn from Wehby's mistakes:

1. Hire top-notch campaign staff. My sense is that staffers and consultants who understand Oregon do better than outsiders.

2. Know the issues before you even consider running. Wehby displayed a stunning unfamiliarity with most state and federal matters, which was a key reason that the Statesman Journal Editorial Board endorsed Rep. Jason Conger over her in the Republican primary.

3. Have a solid — non-plagiarized — plan for what you would do if elected. That plan must be understandable, significant and pragmatic. Give voters good reasons to vote for you. Opposition to the opponent is an insufficient reason.

4. Practice debating; master the art of debate and of back-and-forth politics, instead of taking criticisms personally. Both Kitzhaber and Richardson generally impressed me in this regard.

5. Expect your personal life to become public, so know your flaws and skeletons and reveal them before your opponent and the media do.

6. Respect the opponent. Set that standard for your campaign staff and volunteers.

By the way, the Merkley campaign's incessant attacks on Wehby bugged the heck out of me. One Merkley aide was even texting me on weekends to complain about Wehby.

• Some pro-Measure 88 campaigners looked down on the opponents, and it showed. The pro campaign got outwitted and outworked. The opponents had dug far deeper into the potential impacts of the driver cards.

• As with other journalists I know, I am basically a-political. I registered with a political party simply so I could vote in primary elections. I cannot afford to get invested in the outcomes, because my job is to deal with whichever side prevails.

So it was surprising to get a nasty, accusatory post-election email from a campaign consultant who's been around long enough that he should know better: Losing one's temper is not the optimum way of building credibility.

Which brings me to this tip, which is suitable for non-election consumption as well: Never put anything in an email that you wouldn't want to see on a billboard.

Or in a newspaper.

More information

To view statewide and county-by-county election results, go to oregonvotes.gov/results/2014G/index.html.

Oregon’s Immigration Hawks

Enough is enough. An important bloc of voters made their voices heard on Tuesday. Their message: Quit rewarding people who violate our immigration laws. They chose a sovereign nation over an illegal-alien sanctuary nation, and they told politicians in both parties loud and clear: Put Americans first.

Will D.C. listen?

These voters are tired of politicians creating magnets for illegal immigrants. They’re tired of preferential treatment for defiant border crossers, visa overstayers, and deportation fugitives. They’re tired of the heavy costs and consequences of the government’s systemic refusal to protect its borders and fully implement interior enforcement.

Pay attention, both parties in the Beltway: These aren’t voters in a red-state bastion. They’re fed-up voters in bright-blue Oregon — a whopping 941,042 of them, to be exact — who overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure to provide special driver’s licenses “without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”

When Democratic governor John Kitzhaber and radicals in the state legislature tried to push through illegal-alien driver’s cards against the will of the people, the people struck back and forced a full public vote and electoral accountability.

“Citizens expect our lawmakers to uphold our laws, not work at finding ways to circumvent them,” said the group Protect Oregon Driver Licenses. “Oregon is the only state in the country that [gave citizens the] opportunity to vote on giving driver cards to those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States.” If only every state had the power of initiative and referendum. Ten states – California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia – “have had the law forced upon them with little or no recourse available to them.”

Listen up, D.C.: The Oregon proposal went down in flames by more than a two-to-one margin. More voters weighed in on Measure 88 than on any other single candidate or question on the ballot, including the campaigns for governor, U.S. senator, and marijuana legalization.

Who supported Measure 88? Entitled ethnic lobbyists, immigration lawyers, American-worker-betraying labor unions such as the SEIU and UFCW, the ACLU, the militant Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, agricultural interests, NARAL, far-left church leaders, soft-on-illegal-immigration newspaper editorial boards, and some business-pandering Republicans.

Pro-amnesty actress and Barack Obama campaign-finance bundler Eva Longoria’s “Latino Victory Project” forked over $50,000 to the pro–Measure 88 PAC. The open-borders campaign raised a whopping $500,000-plus from its deep-pocketed Big Government/Big Business/Hollywood patrons.

Who opposed the referendum? Grassroots citizens and a majority of commonsense sheriffs in Oregon who were outspent ten to one.

The police, sheriffs, and border-patrol agents who opposed Measure 88 forcefully connected the dots between immigration enforcement and homeland security. As I’ve reported repeatedly over the years, driver’s licenses are tickets into the American mainstream. They allow residents to establish an identity and foothold into their communities. They help you open bank accounts, enter secure facilities, and, yes, board planes.


- The 9/11 hijackers obtained some 364 separate pieces of identification, including driver’s licenses, in order to conduct their murderous business. Hijackers Hani Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar conspired with illegal-alien day laborers at a Falls Church, Va., 7-Eleven to obtain government-issued photo IDs. Three other hijackers obtained IDs at an Arlington, Va., DMV.

- In Boston, suspected al-Qaeda agent and illegal alien Nabil al-Marabh obtained a license permitting him to drive semi-trucks containing hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic materials.

The anti–Measure 88 law-enforcement officers were joined by Derek Hernandez, vice president of the Western Region National Border Patrol Council, and Maria Espinoza, national director of the Remembrance Project. Espinoza is a Mexican-American activist whose group “is dedicated to honoring and remembering Americans who have been killed by illegal aliens.” As she pointed out to Oregonians: “Americans are neither allowed nor do they expect being able to provide unverifiable documentation when applying for licenses, jobs, voter registrations, loans, or any of the many activities requiring proper identification. Why should illegal aliens be afforded this ill-begotten privilege?”

Pro–Measure 88 advocates disingenuously argued that the law was “pro–public safety” because it would allow Oregon to know who is living in the state. But Espinoza correctly notes that Mexican-government offices embedded in the U.S. continue to issue shady “matricula consular” identification cards “without proof of identity, in their efforts to achieve quasi-legal status for Mexican illegal aliens in the United States.”

As President Obama and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conspire in Beltway backrooms to provide tens of millions of work permits for illegal aliens through administrative fiat, the new GOP majority on Capitol Hill better heed the defeat of Measure 88.

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, spoke for law-abiding voters across the country who are “sick and tired of big business, special-interest groups, and unions controlling our government.” They’re tired of government-manufactured chaos, government-sponsored double standards, and government-imposed benefits for millions of law-breakers who supply cheap labor and cheap votes to bipartisan special interests. Illegal-alien driver’s licenses are a catalyst for politically driven amnesty, Mexico’s poverty-exportation plan, and corporate wage suppression.

American voters of all backgrounds, political affiliations, and incomes don’t want any part of that racket. Enough.

Election night celebration

If you were unable to attend the Election Night celebration - we missed you! But, we took pictures for you!

Nervous energy quickly evaporated into high spirits as the results began to come in. 

It's BIG WIN for the NO on 88 campaign with 68% of the vote - our opponents only 32%.


Ballot Measure 88 goes down in flames

Alert date: 
November 5, 2014
Alert body: 

Oregon voters, by a 2 to 1 margin, said NO to state issued ID - in the form of driver cards - to people in our country illegally.

It's been reported that more people voted NO on 88 than voted on any other issue or for any other candidate in Oregon.  Read more about Ballot Measure 88's demise.

Oregon Voters Reject Illegal Alien Driver’s Licenses

Voters in Oregon overwhelmingly rejected a law passed in 2013 that would grant driver’s license cards to illegal aliens. (Oregon Live, Nov. 5, 2014) Ballot Measure 88, which put Senate Bill (“S.B.”) 833 up for voter approval, was defeated by a landslide of 68% of voters in favor of vetoing S.B 833, with only 32% in support of the law. (Id.) The defeat of Measure 88 marks a huge victory for true immigration reformers in Oregon and nationwide. Currently, eleven states grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. However, activists in Oregon were the first state to hold their elected representatives accountable and put the question on the ballot.

Opposition against Measure 88 was entirely a grassroots effort. Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a local group whose mission is to support enforcement of immigration law, initiated the referendum of the law by working tirelessly to gather over 71,000 signatures in just a few months to get Measure 88 on the ballot. (Breitbart, Oct. 21, 2014) Supporters for the Measure included illegal alien lobby groups, labor unions, and businesses that profited off of the availability of cheap, illegal labor. (Oregon Live, Nov. 4, 2014) True immigration reformers raised only $37,000 to fight Measure 88, compared to the $421,000 raised by the illegal alien lobby to support it. (Breitbart, Oct. 21, 2014)

The movement to defeat Measure 88 gained momentum in April when sheriffs representing all 36 counties in Oregon came out in opposition to the Measure. (Oregon Live, Sept. 22, 2014) Sheriffs of Oregon Political Action Committee, which represents Oregon sheriffs, issued a press release stating: “The Sheriffs of Oregon support the citizens veto referendum #301 to overturn S.B. 833. We urge a NO vote.” (Id.) Tom Bergin, current Clatsop County Sheriff and former President of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, added, “It is wrong to provide special driver’s licenses to people who cannot prove legal presence in the United States. For Oregon to do so, will only enhance the ability for criminal behavior, thus creating a larger risk to our citizens public safety. The Sheriffs of Oregon urge you to oppose this Measure.” (Id.)

Supporters of illegal alien driver’s licenses appealed to public safety concerns, arguing S.B. 833 would improve public safety and increase the number of insured drivers on state roads and highways. (Portland Tribune, Oct. 16, 2014) These arguments, however, lost credibility after the law enforcement adamantly spoke up against the law. Dave Driscall, a retired Salem Police officer, described Measure 88 as “just a way for a select group of people to avoid Oregon law. It will not increase traffic safety or lower the number of uninsured drivers in this state. If allowed to stand Oregon could become a safe haven for criminals and terrorists.” (Oregon Live, Sept. 22, 2014) Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Insurance Regulation in 2011 reported that the average percentage of uninsured motorists is actually higher in states that have no lawful presence requirement for obtaining driving privileges. (National Association of Insurance Commissioners)

True immigration reform activists in the state were thrilled to learn of the outcome of the referendum. (Statesman Journal, Nov. 4, 2014) Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, commented, “We wanted to get it to the ballot, and we wanted to let Oregon voters decide this issue. I think they’ve spoken loud and clear.” (Id.) Kendoll stated the outcome was a victory for those “sick and tired of big business, special interest groups and unions controlling our government.” (Oregon Live, Nov. 4, 2014)

Driver cards measure defeated

Oregon voters resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have granted driver cards to illegal immigrants.

Measure 88 was trailing by a more than 2-to-1 ratio late Tuesday, with 68 percent of voters against it and 32 percent in favor.

The measure would have given the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division authority to issue driver cards for Oregon residents who couldn’t prove their legal status in the United States, but could prove their identity and date of birth and show at least one year of residency in Oregon.

Opponents of the measure worried the driver cards would encourage and reward illegal immigration into the United States. They said the wide margin of victory showed Oregonians shared their concerns.

“The things people were saying to us from all parties in all corners of the state were very positive,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed Measure 88. “All the polls kept indicating we had about a 30-percent spread, but I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself.”

The measure’s supporters argued thousands of immigrants are already driving on Oregon roads, and giving them a driver card would make it easier and cheaper for them to obtain automobile insurance. They called the defeat disappointing, but said the campaign for Measure 88 laid the groundwork for more immigrants’ rights issues in future elections.

“This is obviously a very important issue for many families across Oregon,” said Juan-Carlos Valle, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Lane County. “We will continue to do exactly what we did during the campaign, which was to talk to Oregonians about importance of having a driving card for families who work, take their children to school and go to church.”

Measure 88 grew out of an attempt by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature last year to pass a law granting the driver cards. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill into law in May, but Oregonians for Immigration Reform gathered enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot through Oregon’s referendum process.

Driver’s card puts cart before horse

Oregon's Measure 88 ballot initiative would grant legal driving privileges to people who can't prove legal residence in the United States.

Oregon Measure 88 on the November ballot would grant a driving card to people meeting certain standards but who are unable to prove legal residency in the United States.

We can appreciate the arguments supporters make for the measure, and don’t find them to be completely without merit. However, we can’t get past a strong feeling that it would be a mistake.

Not all that long ago, legal residents and illegal immigrants were able to qualify for Oregon licenses by meeting less stringent standards to prove their identity.

In the wake of 9/11, Oregon joined many states that bolstered the security of driver’s licenses and other state identification cards that could be used to board airplanes and to conduct other business that requires positive identification. Drivers applying for a license must produce proof of legal residency in the United States — a passport, a green card or a birth certificate.

As the licenses issued under the more lax requirements began to expire, immigrant advocates started pushing for an alternative to provide legal driving privileges. Last year the Legislature passed a law creating the driver’s card, but a grassroots petition drive forced the issue onto the ballot.

Ag interests, labor unions, business groups and immigration advocates supported the law, and support passage of the ballot initiative.

Supporters say issuing the cards will make Oregon roads safer. Card holders have to pass the same tests as licensed drivers. They say card holders would be more likely to obtain insurance.

More importantly, the cards would allow illegal immigrants to legally drive to their jobs — jobs that they cannot legally hold.

Nurserymen, fruit producers and food processors depend on immigrant labor. It’s generally accepted that 70 to 80 percent of that workforce is in the country illegally, and who can’t get an Oregon driver’s license.

While it’s against federal law to hire workers who are not legal residents, workers who are hired present documents farm employers assume are legitimate. All of this is on a wink and nod because there is no requirement agriculture employers participate in the federal E-Verify program that would weed out applicants with phony or appropriated documents.

The driver’s card would make this charade harder to pull off. Anyone with legitimate documentation to work would, by definition, have legitimate documentation to get an Oregon driver’s license.

Supporters are quick to point out that immigration is the purview of the federal government. The state’s interest is only in ensuring the roads are safe. But the driver’s card makes the state an active participant in a conspiracy to violate federal law.

We have long supported federal immigration reform, and a pathway to legal residency for those immigrants meeting stringent requirements. Count us among those who think Congress has dawdled for its part.

But federal reform is the first step in the normalization of the status of illegal immigrants, not an after thought. This measure puts the cart before the horse.


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