Oregon Legislature

OFIR Board member Vandermolen's letter to the editor sparks agreement

OFIR Board member Lyneil Vandermolen expressed her discontent with plans to give an instate tuition benefit to illegal alien high schoolers.  In a letter to the editor, Lyneil explains how "feel good" legislation doesn't "feel so good" to those of us who have to pay the bill.  Other readers have expressed their concerns, as well.  Read the letters here.
Our Legislators need to know and hear your discontent about their plans for the upcoming Legislature.  Please call, write or visit your Legislator.  Always be polite, respectful and to the point.  Thank them for their time.

 

 

Is this the Oregon business model we are working toward?

The Oregon Legislature will likely consider giving driver licenses to illegal aliens in our state.

Advocates frame the issue as one of jobs and safety. Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, says his group supports easing driver's licenses requirements for a simple reason: "We have to deal with how to get our work force to work."

Stone is CLEARLY stating that members of OAN rely on an illegal workforce and Oregon citizens should weaken the Oregon driver license bill to accommodate their needs. 

Is this the business model we want in our state?  Do we want to make it even easier for businesses cheat?  These businesses seem to willfully break the law and make a huge profit by relying on an illegal workforce.   Then, Oregon taxpayers foot the bill of over ONE BILLION dollars every year in services to those same illegal aliens and their families.  How does it make any sense to "invite" more illegal aliens in to our state by offering a state issued form of ID?

If Stone were really "concerned" about how to get their illegal employees to work, he should organize a carpool of licensed drivers or provide shuttle services at their expense.

In-state tuition benefits are also on the table this Legislative session. While there are certainly dozens of stories about young children brought to the U.S that have gone to school and didn't get into trouble, the conclusion is that they deserve something that a U.S. citizen can't even get?  If an illegal alien (who isn't even supposed to be here in the first place) graduates from high school (on the taxpayers dime) then they should return to their country of origin and apply for citizenship.  They should not be allowed to take a coveted spot in a public university away from a US citizen.

And, when they graduate from college, they will be competing for jobs with U.S. citizens?  Wait...it's against the law for them to work in this country!  So, Oregon taxpayers have paid to educate them for as many as 16 years, but they can't be hired...legally. 

These two actions are truly folly and outright pandering at it's worst.
 

New Immigration Battle: Driver's Licenses

In a sign of growing opposition to President Obama's immigration policy, Iowa has become the latest state to deny driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants who receive deferments from deportation.

Iowa joins Michigan, Nebraska and Arizona in denying licenses or non-operator identification cards because, officials say, Obama's deferred action program doesn't grant legal status in the United States. Officials in each state cite laws restricting the licenses to foreigners who reside here legally.

The program, which began in August, offers a renewable two-year reprieve for qualified young people who were brought to the United States as children. Recipients also gain permission to work here legally. So far, more than 355,000 applicants have been accepted and nearly 103,000 have been approved, according to the latest government figures.

Iowa's Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino III said in a statement:

"The Iowa DOT understands the exercising of this prosecutorial discretion by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not grant lawful status or a lawful immigration path to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. Rather, it is prosecutorial discretion extended in a blanket fashion to persons who are not lawfully authorized to be present in the United States."

Republicans have criticized the program as backdoor amnesty designed to boost Latino support for Obama. The four states denying licenses are led by Republican governors. One of them, Nebraska's Dave Heineman, has pledged to deny not only licenses, but welfare benefits and other services to illegal immigrants, unless required by state law.

Washington and New Mexico are among states that issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, although New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who is a Republican, wants her state's enabling law repealed. Illinois could be next to issue licenses after the state Senate recently approved a bill.

At issue is whether the federal program's authorization to stay and work here legally also confers temporary legalized status.

Iowa officials cite the memorandum issued by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that outlines the new policy: "This memorandum confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship."

Immigrant advocates say people in deferred action status qualify for licenses under the 2005 Real ID Act, which they have used to file lawsuits to overturn the bans in Arizona and Michigan.

The Real ID law, an anti-terrorism measure aimed at creating a national driver's license system, lists people in deferred action status among the authorized noncitizens who are eligible to obtain a temporary license.

Immigrant advocates also say the states are encroaching on the federal government's authority to set immigration policy, a separation reinforced by the Supreme Court ruling this year that severely weakened Arizona's immigration enforcement law.

"Deferred action has existed for decades and decades. It is a form of lawful presence, just like other forms of administrative relief under our immigration laws," says Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is one of the groups suing in Arizona.

"There's really no legal or constitutional support for what these states are doing," says Saenz. "Suggesting that they are not here lawfully is a rhetorical political move that a number of these states are engaging in."
 

Confusion, inconsistency mark driver's license issue for young Oregon immigrants

While President Barack Obama has cleared the way for many young immigrants to remain in the United States legally, Oregon officials are confused about whether to let them drive or not.

In field offices across the state, some recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are getting licenses or permits, while others are being turned away. Obama created the program earlier this year to defer deportations of young immigrants.

Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services said Friday that it would not issue driver's licenses to those recipients. However, officials retracted that decision late Wednesday, saying there is still an ongoing discussion with the Oregon Department of Justice about the issue.

"Apparently those conversations are still going on with the Department of Justice," said David House, public information officer for the DMV. "We were thinking that we had a decision, but they are still chewing on it."

The deliberation makes one thing clear: Oregon could become the fourth state, after Michigan, Arizona and Nebraska, to deny licenses to deferred action recipients.

House said DMV executives began consulting with the Department of Justice in October about the issue. At the time, he said, they instructed field officers to not accept driver's license applications from deferred action recipients. Instead, they were told to come back when there was a definitive answer.

But a number of people have somehow fallen through the cracks. Many received 90-day permits and several received licenses. House said those exceptions are likely due to confusion at the DMV field office level.

Alejandra Nicolas, 20, of Tigard is one such person. She was accepted into the deferred action program two weeks ago and, after getting her Social Security card, went to the DMV on Tuesday to get her driver's permit. She said she passed the written test, but was denied a permit when the DMV employee realized she needed additional verification.

"I'm pretty disappointed in the state," she said. "I have so many hopes and dreams. They are doing a pretty good job of crushing them."

Francisco Lopez, executive director of the immigrant rights group Causa, said the situation is very unsettling.

"The bottom line here is this whole uncertainty is frustrating a lot of people," he said. "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is saying they have a Social Security number, they have temporary authorization to be in the United States. It is frustrating because we don't know what is going to happen."

Further confusion arose Tuesday night when Univision Portland reported that Gov. John Kitzhaber was responsible for the halt on driver's licenses to deferred action recipients.

Tim Raphael, communications director for the Governor's office, said Kitzhaber became aware of the issue Wednesday and asked for legal advice to determine what authority he may have.

"The governor didn't ask the DMV to halt issuing driver's licenses to anyone," Raphael said. "There is not a final legal opinion yet."

House, of the DMV, said that being in the state legally has been required to get a license, permit or identification card in Oregon since 2008.

He cited the Department of Homeland Security website, which says, "Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status." However, states may interpret that differently.

House said Oregon is not the only state struggling with the issue. Most states require legal presence to get a license, he said, and officials have to follow their legal advice.

"It's been an ongoing learning process for us to deal with federal immigration documents," he said. "We have to go with what our attorney says is legal or not legal."
 

You can help stop this: Oregon Taxpayers Foot $1 Billion Annual Bill for Illegal Immigration

The Oregon State government spends over one billion dollars providing services to illegal aliens each year.

Please, help OFIR defeat drastic moves by the 2013 Legislature to further the foothold of illegal aliens in our state.  How you ask?

Did you know you can make a contribution to fight illegal immigration today? Then, next year, via the Oregon political contribution credit, your state government will refund your contribution to you? I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity by sending a contribution to the Oregonians for Immigration Reform Political Action Committee -- OFIR PAC.

The Oregon political contribution credit is easy and convenient. Here's how it works. If, by 12/31/2012, you contribute up to $50 as an individual or $100 as a couple to OFIR PAC, you can write off your contribution on your 2013 Oregon income tax return. What this means: your contribution will reduce your state income taxes by $50 to $100 -- in effect, cost you nothing.

It's your choice...you can give it to the government or you could contribute to the OFIR PAC.

You can contribute online or mail to:

OFIR PAC

PO Box 7354

Salem, OR 97303

Thank you for your support!

 


 

Cost of illegal aliens in Oregon has passed the BILLION dollar mark

Alert date: 
December 11, 2012
Alert body: 

In a new report just released by FAIR, the true cost to Oregon taxpayers is spelled out in a clear, concise and difficult to contradict report showing that illegal aliens in Oregon now cost taxpayers over a billion dollars every year.  That is after deducting what they do contribute in the form of any paid taxes.

The average Oregon household headed by a U.S. citizen pays about $728 annually to cover the costs of the state’s illegal alien population.  Read the full report.

Tuition equity on Kitzhaber 2013 list

SALEM — In a speech to civic leaders and lawmakers last week, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signaled his support for legislation that would make attendance at state universities more affordable for students living in the country without legal permission.

In the 2011 session, proposed “tuition-equity" legislation would have allowed illegal immigrants attending high school in Oregon for at least three years to qualify for in-state tuition at state universities. Similar bills were introduced in previous sessions and all have failed.

But for the coming 2013 session, the governor is outspoken about his support, and Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.

“It is time to get it done," said Tim Raphael, the governor’s spokesman.

Retired Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, voted against a tuition-equity bill in 2003. In 2011, he sponsored a similar bill, in part because he now believes it’s an education issue rather than an immigration issue.

What sparked his change of heart was a letter from a teacher who described a student who came to the country at a young age with her family — an outstanding student, the letter said, but one who could not afford college tuition.

“What’s really in the best interest of our state?" Morse asked. “To help students improve themselves and, in turn, actually improve the welfare of our state by providing people an opportunity. It didn’t make any sense to deny opportunity."

At the time, the idea met with pushback from lawmakers who said it represents the state encouraging illegal immigration. Others said it was anything but equal: charging students from outside Oregon out-of-state tuition while someone in the country illegally pays the lower, in-state tuition.

Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, said tuition equity fails to address the larger problem. He cautioned he had not seen any specific legislation, but said he believes the federal government should address immigration reform.

“The problem is, the young person didn’t make the decision to come here legally and may not have a realistic option under current law to become legal. It’s not just (the issue) of college tuition," he said.

Even if the students were to graduate, he said, they could not be legally hired.

“Sounds like a great policy, saddle them with whatever (it) costs to go to college and then say, ‘Sorry, your dream is limited to higher education and no career,’ strikes me as shallow," he said.

Federal law mandates that children in the U.S. be educated from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students may not legally be asked their immigration status, so estimating how many illegal-immigrant students are in the school system is difficult.

Morse said he’s encouraged that the governor is taking an outspoken position early on. “I think it has a wonderful chance of passing this time," he said.

Students who live in Oregon illegally are considered out-of-state residents, which means they pay about $20,000 more per year at the University of Oregon than in-state students pay. Specifics on what 2013 legislation could look like are not yet known. The 2011 bill would have required that students intend to become citizens. Whether proposed legislation would clear a path to citizenship is unclear.

Alberto Dorantes graduated from Summit High School in Bend. He’s selling fruit around town with his family, but the 20-year-old would love to study psychology and music.

“There are a lot of young people, I think, that if this passes would be encouraged to go to college," Dorantes said.

Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA Oregon, a human rights organization, said he’s not surprised to hear the governor’s public support.

“I think it reflects the current climate of the country. Latinos and people of color were very influential politically last election," Lopez said. He said that his organization has already been in talks with the governor and lawmakers on the issue.

Speaker of the House-designee Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, the granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe, is on record in support.

House Republican Leader-elect Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, was more cautious, in part because specific legislation has yet to be unveiled.

“Our high school graduates deserve opportunities for employment and higher education," he said in an email. But, he warned, the state should move cautiously to not “cause unintended consequences."

Legislative Days are coming

This month (December 10th, 11th and 12th) citizens have a great opportunity to meet, in person, with their elected Legislators. Legislators schedule this time to be in their offices to meet with constituents and attend meetings at the Capitol. OFIR encourages anyone that is able, to call and make an appointment to meet, in person, with your Legislator during those days (or any other day you can get an appointment).

There will likely be two bills we will be working to defeat in the 2013 Legislative session and we need all hands on deck. We are working to stay ahead of the curve and hope to influence Legislators that might be "on the fence" about giving driver licenses to illegal aliens or instate tuition benefits to illegal aliens. Both issues have gotten a lot of attention in past sessions, but OFIR and dedicated citizens have defeated those bills every time. But, the job isn't finished and we must not let up...even for a moment. Our opponents are pressuring (and attempting to guilt) Legislators into passing these two destructive bills. We must not let this happen.

Illegal aliens and their advocates are doing everything they can to get a foothold in Oregon. Unfortunately, there are many Legislators who are attempting to help them, too.

OFIR members and friends, please call and make an appointment with your Legislators and let them know you do NOT support either of these moves to "legitimize" the presence of illegal aliens in Oregon.

If you aren't certain who your Oregon State Legislators are, visit this website http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm for all the information you will need. If you make an appointment, have a meeting, get a response to an email or any other contact, OFIR encourages you to share your information with us.

If you are uncomfortable or just simply too scared to have a face to face meeting, OFIR encourages you to just go and visit the Capitol. The entire building is open to the public, so you can walk the halls, see the offices, look in the hearing rooms and get familiar with the building that controls our state.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, December 10, 11, 12 - Legislative Days at the Capitol

Oh, and there's that, too...

The elephant in the room is eating away at our budget.  Why is it the only discussion our Governor has about the state budget revolves around cutting benefits to PERS employees (who earned them) and letting dangerous criminals out of jail to prey on Oregon citizens. 

Worse yet, his plans often include ideas about what our state can do for those who are in our country illegally...how can we make their life better, easier and more convenient for them.

As a lifelong Oregonian I would like to hear some ideas about how our governor intends to make life better (and safer) for the citizens and legal residents of Oregon.  What is most often left out of budget discussions, is the honest conversation about the real cost of illegal aliens in our state.  With over 8% unemployment in Oregon, there is never a discussion about the estimated 100,000 working illegal aliens and 200,000 unemployed citizens.  The Oregon Legislature won't even hear any bills requiring employers to use free and easy to use employment verification called E-Verify.

Our elected officials owe us that courtesy because reports show that families illegally in our state cost the tax-payers over $700 million just in services every year.

Do you ever see that kind of information printed in budget reports, newspapers or do you ever hear it on the news?  Not likely.

The Governor's next move is to cut services to citizens to offset the cost of spending our tax dollars on sending illegal alien students to state universities and only charging them in-state tuition rates, instead of out of state tuition....which, by the way, legal citizens have to pay if they want to attend an Oregon school.

Read this article about how the governor justifies cutting programs to citizens, but just "slips in" the reason why.

Denial of driver’s licenses called bias

LINCOLN — Maria Marquez-Hernandez used to collect volunteer experiences for her resume because she couldn’t legally hold a job.

Now the 20-year-old architecture student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is looking to earn real work experience along with a wage.

She is among the first wave of young immigrants brought to this country illegally who have been granted two-year work authorization under a new presidential program.

“It felt amazing,” said Marquez-Hernandez, whose parents brought her from Mexico to Omaha when she was 5 years old. “I no longer have the fear of what am I going to do when I get out of college.”

Her relief was tempered somewhat when she recently learned she won’t be granted a driver’s license in Nebraska, which could make any job search more difficult.

Gov. Dave Heineman wasn’t playing chicken three months ago when he promised to deny driver’s licenses to young illegal immigrants given work authorization under a program called “deferred action for childhood arrivals.”

As of last week, the state had rejected license applications from eight immigrants who qualified under the federal program, said Bev Neth, director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.

The license rejections have riled immigration lawyers, who called the state’s policy discriminatory.

“It seems pretty clear in our statutes that anyone who has a work permit issued by Homeland Security is eligible for a driver’s license,” said Omaha attorney Mark Curley. “For some reason, this group has been singled out.”

The Obama administration’s deferred action program focuses on immigrants under age 31 brought to the country illegally before age 16. To receive the two-year work permit, the applicants must have no criminal record and must be in school or have a high school diploma.

The president intended it as a step toward the Dream Act, a legislative proposal that sought to put young, educated illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. The proposal has twice failed to gain the support of a majority of lawmakers.

Critics argued the president thwarted the will of Congress by granting deferred action to young immigrants. They also said it represented a political move by Obama to shore up support among Latinos ahead of Election Day.

Heineman has said Nebraska won’t provide state benefits such as driver’s licenses to those in the country illegally.

“It’s not good policy,” Darcy Tromanhauser, with Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, said of the governor’s stance. “We have talented youth who grew up in Nebraska, and they want to work, but they can’t get to work.”

Advocacy groups who support the deferred action program say roughly three dozen immigrants in Nebraska have been approved so far. Federal officials reported, as of Nov. 15, nearly 53,300 immigrants have received the approval nationally out of about 309,000 applicants.

Advocates estimate as many as 1.7 million people could be eligible for the program.

Nebraska is one of three states to declare it won’t grant driver’s licenses to immigrants who obtain deferred action approval. The others are Arizona and Michigan, said Tanya Broder, a staff lawyer with the California-based National Immigration Law Center.

About 15 states have either started granting licenses to deferred action applicants or indicated they will, Broder said. Other states have not yet announced their intent.

Iowa has not decided whether it will issue licenses to deferred action applicants, said Kim Snook, director of driver services for the Iowa Department of Transportation. The state has not received an application, she added.

In Nebraska, a federal employment authorization card represents a valid form of identification when applying for a driver’s license, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website. Once the immigrants receive work authorization, they also are qualified to apply for a Social Security card.

The state runs information from immigrants who apply for driver’s licenses through a real-time database operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applicants who come back with a code denoting their acceptance in the deferred action program are automatically denied licenses, Neth said.

When told that some lawyers have called the denials a violation of state law, Neth replied, “That’s their interpretation.”

State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, an advocate of strict immigration enforcement, commended Nebraska officials for not abdicating their responsibility.

He questioned how illegal immigrants can lay claim to a privilege they are not entitled to receive in the first place.

“What it essentially comes down to is the federal government pushing amnesty on the states,” Janssen said.

Dazmi Castrejon, an immigration attorney from Omaha, said others who came to the country illegally have been able to obtain Nebraska licenses because they had valid work authorization.

Such applicants fall under a category called “cancellation of removal.” They have to have been in the country for at least 10 years and free of serious criminal convictions.

Neth said the assorted classification of immigrants by the federal immigration agency is confusing, but she was unaware of illegal immigrants who obtained driver’s licenses in Nebraska.

Omaha lawyer Sylvia Rodriguez said several categories of undocumented workers have received licenses in Nebraska. She sided with those who think Nebraska’s policy singles out one type of immigrant.

“I don’t think,” Rodriguez said. “I’m sure they’re discriminating against this one group.”

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