On the issue of illegal immigration, what will it take for the Legislature to heed Oregonians’ will?
Just more than three years ago, in the November 2014 general election, Oregon voters rejected Ballot Measure 88 and the illegal-immigrant driver cards the Legislature had approved in 2013. The statewide margin was almost two-to-one; more than 983,000 Oregonians — including a majority in 35 of 36 counties and 80 percent in Umatilla County — voted no. The magnitude of Ballot Measure 88’s rejection made clear: The vote transcended the single issue of driver cards to constitute a broad mandate against all forms of state-government benefits for illegal immigrants.
Did lawmakers get the message? They did not. Ever since, they’ve legislated as though Ballot Measure 88’s outcome had been the opposite.
In 2015, lawmakers credentialed many illegal-immigrant university students to compete against American citizens for taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grants. In 2017, they extended Oregon Health Plan coverage to 14,000 additional illegal immigrants and broadened existing “sanctuary” protections.
And in the session that ended last month, via House Bill 4111, lawmakers granted illegal immigrants enrolled in former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program the right to renew Oregon driver licenses — this despite the unequivocal outcome of Ballot Measure 88, via which Oregonians rejected driving privileges for all illegal immigrants without exception.
Earlier this month, Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 4111 into law. Oregonians have every right to be angry. What, they may ask, can we do to make lawmakers hear and heed the mandate of Ballot Measure 88?
One way is to send the same message again. Activists affiliated with Oregonians for Immigration Reform are circulating petitions to qualify a measure for the November 2018 ballot to repeal the “sanctuary” law which keeps Oregon’s police and sheriffs from using their money, personnel and equipment to detect or apprehend reputedly “non-criminal” illegal immigrants. If, by early July, 88,000 registered Oregon voters sign OFIR’s petition — Initiative Petition 22 — voters will be able to strike that law from the books.
If they did, that would be two citizen-initiated ballot measures in four years via which Oregonians gave a thumbs-down to laws that benefit illegal immigrants. Would lawmakers, then, finally get the message and stop introducing and voting for such legislation? Those with safe seats in liberal urban districts probably would not. But those in competitive “swing” districts — ever cognizant that the next election is just around the corner — may, perhaps in sufficient numbers to make the difference.
Ours is a government of, by and for the people. So send your elected representatives the message they need to hear. This spring, sign the IP 22 petition. And in November, vote to repeal the sanctuary law. By doing so, you’ll take another step to force our lawmakers to listen to us — and to stop enacting policies that encourage illegal immigration to our state.
Cynthia Kendoll is president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. Richard F. LaMountain is the group’s former vice president. To sign Initiative Petition 22, go to www.StopOregonSanctuaries.org.