Oregon

Drive-thru signature gathering event Friday, Agust 23

Alert date: 
2013-08-22
Alert body: 

If you haven't had the opportunity to sign the referendum petition to overturn SB833 - the new law giving driver privilege cards to people in the country illegally - it doesn't get any easier than this.  Just drive up, sign the petition and drive away.  You don't even need to get out of your car!

Protect Oregon Driver Licenses will be hosting a DRIVE-THRU signature gathering event this FRIDAY, August 23, from 12 noon until 8:00pm in the parking lot at Market St. and Savage Rd., just west of the freeway at exit 213. Watch for the signs guiding you in.

Volunteers will be available if you have any questions, or if you would like to pick up supplies so that you can collect signatures of your friends, neighbors and family members, too. The deadline of October 4th is rapidly approaching and we need 58,142 valid signatures.

PODL will also be hosting a booth at the Oregon State Fair - just outside the southeast corner of the Columbia Exhibit Hall. Please drop by and say hello!

 

 


 

5 views on immigration reform, Oregon 'driver cards'


Members of Congress may be away from the nation's capital during their August recess, but that doesn't mean the debate about federal immigration debate has simmered down.

Same goes for the Oregon Legislature, which adjourned last month, leaving in its wake strong feelings about a new law authorizing undocumented immigrants to obtain Oregon driver cards.

In recent days, a variety of guest columnists have weighed in on the issues.

Read the complete article.

Rep. Esquivel gives Chief Petitioners view of SB 833

As Chief Petitioner on the SB 833 referendum campaign, Representative Sal Esquivel walks readers through a logical explanation of just how the bill was conceived and just how the public was deceived.  Read Rep. Esquivel's op ed in the Mail Tribune.
 

Driver Privilege Cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll explains why driver privilege cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon and learn how you can help overturn SB 833. 

Read her guest commentary in the Sunday Statesman Journal.
 

Immigration issues affected by '12 election

Supporters and opponents agree: The outcome of the 2012 election, more than anything else, shaped how the Oregon Legislature responded to immigration issues in 2013.

“With all the people who came out to vote in November, our electorate made it clear in the 2012 election what the priority was,” said Luis Guerra, the new executive director of Causa Oregon immigrant-rights group.

A new Democratic majority in the Oregon House — the Oregon Senate remained in Democratic hands — ensured passage of two state priorities for immigrant-rights groups.

One bill was for students to obtain in-state tuition rates at state universities, regardless of their immigration status, if they graduate from Oregon high schools and meet other conditions.

The Senate passed similar bills in 2003 and 2011, but both died in the House. This time, the House initiated it, and both chambers passed House Bill 2787 and the governor signed it two months into the 2013 session.

One of the celebrants was Hugo Nicolas, a 2011 graduate of McNary High School, who said the bill will make it possible for him to attend the University of Oregon.

“This means there is hope that students like me can get out and contribute to their community,” he said.

The other bill was for people to obtain four-year driver’s cards, half the eight-year driver’s license, if they passed the driving-skills and knowledge tests but could not prove legal presence in the United States.

Lawmakers had made the latter a condition in 2008 to comply with a federal law governing the use of state licenses as identification for federal purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft or entering federal buildings. The federal law, however, allows states to issue alternative identification for drivers.

A similar proposal failed to advance past a Senate committee two years ago. But backed by a coalition of business groups, Senate Bill 833 became law in a single month — and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it into law at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps.

“We shared all the stories of all the families who are affected” by both bills, Guerra said, and his group will follow a similar strategy in an attempt to persuade Oregon’s congressional delegation to back federal immigration-law changes.

However, opponents of both state bills have not given up, although they are concentrating their efforts on just one of them.

Opponents have launched a campaign to gather the 58,142 voter signatures required to put the driver’s-card law to a statewide vote. They have 90 days after the Legislature adjourns — it would have been a deadline of Oct. 5 if the session had ended Sunday — to file the signatures with the secretary of state.

“We have had an amazing response,” said Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed the bill.

“I doubt there is a town in Oregon where somebody has not requested a signature sheet. A huge number of people are outraged by this bill to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses. There is no question in my mind that if we are successful in getting on the ballot, they will revoke this bill.”

If there are enough valid signatures, the law would be suspended — it is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 — and the statewide vote would coincide with the November 2014 general election, unless lawmakers choose an earlier date.

Washington and New Mexico issue licenses without proof of legal presence; Washington has an “enhanced” license valid for federal purposes that also can be used in travel to and from Canada. Illinois will issue three-year cards in the fall, and Utah issues cards that must be renewed annually.

The in-state tuition law, which took effect July 1, also can be challenged in court. The law provides for a direct review by the Oregon Supreme Court, although the justices can delegate someone to conduct fact-finding proceedings before they hear oral arguments on the legal questions.

Such a lawsuit must be filed by Aug. 29.

Although some witnesses at Oregon legislative hearings suggested there would be a lawsuit, a similar law in California was upheld by that state’s highest court in 2010 — and the U.S. Supreme Court declined in June 2011 to hear an appeal.

“The problem is that the Supreme Court has been unwilling to hear those lawsuits,” Ludwick said. He said state laws appear to contradict a 1996 federal law that bars in-state tuition for students without immigration documents, unless the state laws waive requirements for out-of-state residents.

Oregon joined about a dozen other states with similar laws, including Washington.

Racial and ethnic minorities scored legislative victories on other matters this session:

• House Bill 2517, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows full eight-year driver’s licenses to residents of three Pacific island nations — Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and Federated States of Micronesia — who are legally allowed to live and work in the United States. Under current law, these residents of nations associated with the United States have to renew their state licenses every year, because there is no limit on their stays.

• House Bill 2611 requires health professionals regulated by specific state boards to undergo training in cultural differences in providing medical treatment. This “cultural competency” training will be set by the Oregon Health Authority.

• Senate Bill 463. signed Wednesday and taking effect Jan. 1, will require the state Criminal Justice Commission to analyze how criminal sentencing and child welfare legislation may affect racial and ethnic minorities if requested by two legislators, one from each party. The law is modeled after a 2008 Iowa law.

However, House Bill 2661 remained in the budget committee, although it did have two hearings. It would have required the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a study of the interaction of police with racial and ethnic minorities.

pwong@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6745

Merkley intros H-2B amendment

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced an amendment Wednesday to the massive immigration bill under consideration in the Senate that would tighten loopholes that Oregon companies used to hire foreign workers to complete local forestry projects.

The amendment is virtually identical to the American Jobs in American Forests Act, a bill Merkley introduced in May.

Merkley’s legislation would require companies to make an extensive effort to hire American workers before they could apply for an H-2B visa.

The H-2B visa program, which received a major injection of stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, authorizes American companies to import foreign workers for nonagricultural seasonal work if they are unable to find U.S. citizens to fill the positions.

As The Bulletin first reported, four Oregon companies received more than $7 million in federal funds to hire foreign workers for forestry projects through the H-2B program in 2010. At the time, Oregon was suffering through double-digit unemployment.

A subsequent review of the H-2B program by the Department of Labor’s inspector general could find no evidence that the Oregon companies made any effort to recruit in Oregon.

“I am pleased that the Senate is moving forward to fix our broken immigration system," said Merkley in a prepared statement. “But we need to ensure that in fields like forestry where there are thousands of Oregonians looking for work, companies are not allowed to abuse the H-2B visa program and just blindly assert that there are no Oregonians willing and able to work in our forests."

Under the current system, companies have to advertise only in states where the jobs “originated," which often are not the states in which the work was to be performed. The companies can self-attest that they were unable to find U.S. workers before asking permission to hire foreign labor.

Consequently, unemployed workers in Oregon, many with forestry experience and expertise, might never learn about job openings for local forestry projects. Oregon’s database of those actively seeking work includes 3,492 forest and conservation workers and 1,489 forest and conservation technicians, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Under Merkley’s proposal, companies must bolster their efforts to recruit locally by advertising on local radio and Internet job sites, as well as consulting with the state workforce agency to make sure local job seekers learn about potential openings. The state workforce agency would have to certify that a robust effort had been made before a company could apply to bring in foreign labor, and would put in stricter recruiting rules for multistate projects so companies couldn’t advertise exclusively in one state for a project that will take place in another.

While many details and disagreements remain, including over border security and a possible path to citizenship, leaders from both parties have said passing immigration reform is a priority.

By attaching his bill to the larger legislation, Merkley increases its chances of actually becoming law, since large, heavily negotiated and debated bills are generally more likely to secure a majority of votes than smaller, one-issue bills. The Senate must first agree to the amendment, and a vote on it has not yet been scheduled.

After the inspector general’s report, the Labor Department tried to change the rules governing the H-2B program to close some of the loopholes, but its changes were successfully challenged in federal court by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others.

The program has continued to grow under the old rules. Over the past four years, the number of visas issued has grown from 44,847 in fiscal year 2009 to 47,403 in 2010 and 50,826 in 2011, according to the U.S. State Department. Figures for 2012 were not available.

Oregon is not one of the top 10 states for total positions certified, according to Department of Labor figures. In 2012, forest worker was the second highest H-2B worker category, behind landscaper. For 2013, forest worker ranks fourth, behind landscaper/groundskeeper, maid/housekeeper/cleaner, and amusement and recreation attendant.
 

Immigration group gears up for referendum on driver's card bill

An immigration group looking to overturn a recently passed law that allows residents without proof of legal presence to get driver’s cards ramped up their efforts Tuesday to bring the issue before Oregon voters.

Beneath a canopy outside the state Capitol, Oregonians for Immigration Reform officials passed out manila envelopes that included signature sheets for a referendum on Senate Bill 833.

The driver’s cards under the bill, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed in May, would last four years instead of the standard eight years. Driver card applicants must meet other requirements, including knowledge of traffic laws and driving skills.

Sponsors of the referendum efforts would have to gather 58,142 valid signatures and file them by Sept. 26, which is 90 days after the targeted adjournment of the 2013 Legislature. The law would be suspended instead of taking effect in January if enough signatures were gathered to force a statewide election on the bill.

“It’s a herculean task but I think that Oregonians are really angry that this (bill) was rammed through,” said Cynthia Kendoll, the president for Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

The group was also protesting a federal immigration bill that would provide undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Buttons that read “Stop Illegal Immigration” were scattered on a table.

Supporters of the short-term driver cards argue the bill is about increasing public safety on the state’s roads not about immigration. But opponents say the new law would just condone illegal behavior.

Republican Reps. Sal Esquivel of Medford and Kim Thatcher of Keizer, and Richard LaMountain of Portland, recently filed the referendum papers for the bill with the secretary of state.

Esquivel told about two dozen people gathered on the Capitol steps in the rain that he doesn’t think the bill will help increase public safety and lawmakers who voted for the bill aren’t upholding the law.

“We are a country of laws. If you break the law to come here. Why would we allow that?,” Esquivel asked.

He unrolled a lengthy list of requirements residents have to meet to get a standard driver’s license, arguing that U.S. citizens were being treated as second rate.

Thatcher also announced the introduction of House Bill 3535, which would direct the Oregon Department of Transportation to report annually on the effects of implementing the driver’s card bill.

If the driver’s card bill is overturned, House Bill 3535 would not take effect.

By about 12:30 p.m., the group had distributed about 40 packets to those interested in gathering signatures for the referendum efforts.

If their measure qualifies for a statewide election, it would appear on the November 2014 ballot, although lawmakers can provide for a different date.

Luis Guerra, acting executive director of Causa, an immigration rights association that pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 833, said the group is keeping a close eye on the referendum efforts.

Guerra said that the driver’s card bill got bipartisan support in both legislative chambers and should be viewed as a public safety issue.

“We realize that they have a lot of signatures they need to collect so we’ll prepare as we need to based on how much work we see them accomplish,” he said.

An invitation to join us Tuesday, May 21 at the Capitol

Alert date: 
2013-05-17
Alert body: 

Please join OFIR this coming Tuesday, May 21st from 11:00am - 1:00pm on the front steps of the Capitol Building in Salem.

We will be participating in the National 1986 Remembrance Day, which is designed for us all to reflect on the impact of the mass amnesty bill passed in 1986.

Speakers will address the National Amnesty bill now circulating through Congress and highlight the most egregious aspects of the bill.

Legislators Rep. Kim Thatcher and Sal Esquivel will speak about the impact of illegal immigration on Oregonians.

Also, as many of you already know, a referendum to STOP SB833 (a law issuing driver privilege cards to illegal aliens) before it is enacted has been filed by  "Protect Oregon Driver Licenses" .

Your help is needed to collect signatures of Oregon's registered voters.  We need 58,142 signatures by mid September (90 days after the last day of this Legislative session).  Our goal is to get SB833 on the ballot and give Oregon's citizen's a voice on the issue...with their NO VOTE in November 2014.

On tuesday, at the Capitol, "Protect Oregon Driver Licenses" will have packets with all you need to collect signatures.  Please stop by and pick one up.  We need all hands on deck to get the signatures we need by the deadline.                                                                                                                                              

Caution:  Because the Legislature is still in session, signatures may NOT be collected on Capitol grounds. 

Your financial contribution would be greatly appreciated, too. The costs involved in operating such an undertaking are enormous.  We would appreciate your help with a contribution of any size to help offset these expenses.

Please plan to join us Tuesday, May 21 from 11:00am - 1pm on the steps of the Oregon Capitol.  You are welcome to bring appropriate signs, banners, flags to help spread the message...NO AMNESTY, NO PATH TO CITIZENSHIP, NO EXCEPTIONS.

See you there! 

Smoke jumpers plant landing in pot 'starter kits'

A team of smoke jumpers fighting fires in the Applegate unknowingly dropped into a 1,500-plant marijuana garden this week, sheriff's officials said.

The locally-based smoke jumpers parachuted into the garden as they were searching for lightning-sparked fires, Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said.

The firefighters contacted law enforcement, who pulled the plants from the site on Tuesday, Carlson said.

"They had no idea they were dropping into a marijuana garden," Carlson said.

The sheriff's department said it is unusual to find a large marijuana garden this early in the year.

People usually stumble into the gardens in the late summer or early fall.

Most of the plants were small and growing inside plastic pots.

"They were in starter kits, so to speak," Carlson said.

The grow site was littered with hills of garbage, much of it harmful chemicals that can pollute soil and streams in the area, officials said.

At least two people were believed to be camping at the garden, keeping armed watch over the plants as they grew over the summer, Carlson said.

"These plants were going to be harvested in late summer or early fall," Carlson said.

The amount of garbage was disturbing, though not surprising considering what deputies have seen piled up at previous gardens found in the forest, she said.

"If you consider at least two people were eating two meals a day and then throwing the food containers away, and that it takes a lot of chemicals and fertilizers to start these grows, that's a lot of trash," Carlson said. "It's very bad for the environment of our forests."

The sheriff's department is putting together a group of volunteers who will hike into the garden to haul out the trash in the coming weeks, Carlson said.

"We won't just let it sit out there," Carlson said.

There were 1,509 plants at the site, along with hundreds of additional holes dug for future planting. Authorities also found two long guns and other evidence that suggested the garden was part of a Mexican cartel operation, Carlson said. She declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

Those recreating on federal lands should be aware of the dangers of coming across possible grow sites, officials say. Telltale signs are PVC piping or black poly-pipe, bags of fertilizer, large quantities of trash and camp sites. Those who come across such sites should leave immediately the way they came in, police say. If possible, take note of the location on a GPS and make a waypoint but do not linger or investigate further. Upon returning home, call the local sheriff's department and provide accurate road descriptions and drainage or creek names.

"Anything that doesn't add up to the way the woods should look should give you a clue that you're in a marijuana grow," Carlson said. "Just head back the way you came and immediately call law enforcement."

Most of the marijuana plants at the grow site were small and inside plastic pots, said sheriff’s officials.

Klamath County raids lead to 38 arrests

GRANTS PASS — More than 300 local, state and federal officers, some in camouflage gear and helmets, fanned out across rural Klamath County in the pre-dawn darkness Wednesday and arrested 38 people accused of operating a methamphetamine and gun distribution network connected to Mexican drug cartels. Ten more were still sought.

Darin Tweedt, chief counsel of the criminal division of the Oregon Department of Justice, said the raids were the culmination of an eight-month investigation dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. It started last October when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the state criminal division with information about the ring. State authorities enlisted the help of local authorities and other federal agencies, and the investigation snowballed.

"We have evidence that shows they are linked to the cartels," Tweedt said of those arrested. "The goal of this particular operation was to send a pretty clear signal that we are not neglecting to enforce narcotics laws in rural Oregon counties. We cast a pretty wide net."

In the course of searching 23 homes and businesses in Klamath Falls and outlying rural communities, police also seized 4 pounds of methamphetamine and 50 guns.

The Herald and News newspaper reported officers used flash-bang grenades and forced their way in to some homes.

"This operation takes a big group of suspected meth dealers off our streets," Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement.

Nearly all of the methamphetamine and heroin available in Oregon comes through Mexico, said Chris Gibson, Oregon director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Mexican gangs also are responsible for most of the large marijuana being grown illegally on remote national forestlands in Oregon.

The agency's statistics showed that seizures of methamphetamine and guns in Oregon have been trending upward since 2008, along with drug arrests. Seizures of marijuana and cocaine are down. Seizures of heroin and prescription drugs are up.

Law enforcement task forces report they are investigating 47 drug gangs in Oregon, 24 of which are described as Mexican or Hispanic, Gibson said.

Tweedt refused to comment on whether the ring was connected to the killing last fall of two California men whose bodies were found buried on an abandoned ranch outside the rural community of Bonanza, where some of the arrests were carried out. The slain men were identified as Ricardo Jauregui, 38, of Oakley, Calif., and Everado Mendez-Ceja, 32, of Richmond, Calif. They had told their families they were going to Oregon to buy a horse and hay. Their truck was burned.

The arrests overwhelmed the local jail, which has closed whole sections because of budget cuts related to the loss of federal timber subsidies. Tweedt said the Klamath County sheriff opened unused sections to accommodate all the people being arrested. More arrests were expected as police continued serving warrants. Klamath County Circuit Court started arraigning the first of those arrested. A grand jury will start considering indictments next week.

Tweedt said the drugs were manufactured somewhere else then distributed around Klamath County and neighboring rural areas. Very little methamphetamine has been made in Oregon since laws went into effect regulating the sale of cold medicines, which can be used in making the chemical.

Among the 19 people arraigned was Jose Buenaventura Vinals, 50, of Klamath Falls, District Attorney Rob Patridge said. He was charged with two counts of racketeering and two counts of selling methamphetamine. The district attorney's information alleged that Vinals was involved with at least six other people in a criminal enterprise dating back to Oct. 1, 2012. Others arrested included men and women ranging in age from 22 to 49 from Bonanza, Chiloquin, Klamath Falls and Beatty.
 

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