Anti immigrant policies repudiated at national and local levels

Article by Jeff Stone, Director of Government Relations, Oregon Association of Nurseries

Immigration reform is about obtaining a stable and legal workforce and its effect on the economy. Without a solution, crops rot in the field and U.S. farms fail, hastening our dependence on foreign farms and operations for food, fiber and other natural resources. The failure to enact comprehensive and fair immigration reform threatens to rob America of its rich heritage of opportunity for all.

In May 2006, the President Bush outlined a proposal to increase border security, provide for a guest worker program for jobs, and to properly document and regulate the many undocumented workers currently residing in our country. A hard line on immigration is not only counterproductive to resolving the underpinning issues but proved perilous to candidates. Not a single Republican candidate running on a hard line immigration policy won an open race or unseated an incumbent. Looking back after the mid-term elections, Congress should have listened to the president.

Today, many industries struggle to find enough workers. Construction, hospitality and agriculture need more workers than are currently available. In late November, a Reuters poll reported that 67% of Americans believe undocumented workers should be allowed to become guest workers and eventually, if they choose, US citizens. In the same breath, they also want Congress to tighten the borders. We agree. Without meaningful border security, we understand how a guest worker program can become a slippery slope. Without workers, many industries would be crippled. It is an art and a science and the politics as usual must give way to a visionary policy.

It would be a mistake to read the 2006 mid-term elections as solely a repudiation of the war in Iraq, scandalous congressional members, “Bush Fatigue” or hard-line attitudes toward immigration. There are those who would make that argument. However, with the Democrats having a small majority in the House of Representatives and a razor thin one in the Senate, the political center must emerge and pass the imperfect but politically vetted US Senate version of comprehensive immigration reform.

Why? Republicans bet and lost that an enforcement-only immigration agenda would carry them across the electoral finish line, now it’s time to reconsider that strategy and develop a more inclusive and positive message.

Nothing illustrates best he need for a more positive and constructive message on immigration than a brief notation of several high profile GOP candidates who focused on anti-immigrant messages and lost:

– Rep. Jim Hostettler (R-Indiana) — who chaired the House Subcommittee on Immigration, a 12-year veteran, was defeated by 22 points.
– Rep JD Hayworth (R-Arizona), a recognized cheerleader for anti-immigrant policies, was defeated by 5 points by a state senator.
– Conservative Randy Graf campaigning to replace the seat vacated by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona) lost by 12 points with his get tough on immigration message.
– Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), an outspoken voice against comprehensive reform, was defeated by 18 points.
– In Oregon, anti immigrant commercials failed to propel Mike Erickson (District 5) and gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton to victory.

Economic factors

Clearly public policy has an impact on the economic viability of industry and our society. And, while conservative talk shows fan the fires of fear and the unknown, we must take a sober accounting of the economic dimensions of the immigration issue.

– With the exception of Border States, the net fiscal effect (services used vs. taxes paid) is a wash.
– Undocumented workers contribute an estimated $7 billion to Social Security, which goes mostly unclaimed.
– Companies stay in the United States. Foundational industries remain competitive in a global market place. Heavy employer sanctions will only serve to drive businesses out of Oregon.
– It will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to deport 12 million people who do not want to leave.


For decades, our nation failed to secure its borders. This is not a problem that is recent, rather one that the Congress has side stepped for two decades. As a result, millions of people came to our country seeking jobs and opportunity for themselves and their families. Today, many of these people live and work in Oregon.

These workers are indispensable to Oregon farms. Without their hard work many family farms could not survive. Oregon needs a sensible solution to the immigration problem. Oregon farmers want border security, a stop to illegal immigration and the opportunity to hire willing legal workers. The time is now to work together on immigration to protect and preserve the nation’s foundational industries.

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Posted by at 06:12 | Posted in Measure 37 | 36 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • homer12

    Heressszzz me questions: Was this last election a real referendum on immigration? to me I see it was on Iraq, congressional follies and the electorate choosing a breath of fresh air. Is what the Dems want the same as Bush?

  • Ray Dickerson

    I could not disagree more with many of the statements in the basic article, “anti-immigrant policies repudiated at National and local levels.” Only a person who does not live in or near the “little Mexicos” across our Nation and state could make such an argument. Futhermore, only someone placing personal and selfish short term economic interests above the best interest of America could write such a piece.

    In my town, Ontario, Oregon, of about 11,000 residents, 2006 has seen 10,016 police cases; more than 1.3 cases per adult resident. Although case information by enthnicity is not released to the public, one would have to be completely tuned out to not recognize the majority of Hispanic names included in the daily releases of crime stories and the weekly publication of police blotters in the newspapers.

    Additionally, our schools have now reached beyond the 50% point of enrollees consisting of children of Hispanic or migrant families. With the birth ratio being 8:1, in less than one generation the schools will be at a ratio of 8:2 at a minimum. Some schools can claim 100% ESL, poverty or both categories. The Average Yearly Progress (AYP) scores are not competitive, teacher morale is in the tank, graduation rates are among the lowest in the state or nation, depending on what one can believe on that subject. (179 out of every 1st grade starting class of 215 students will not complete college; 80 to 90 will not complete high school) What does that cost???

    The influx was orginally to labor camps which were then deemed unsuitable, then came “affordable housing.” This was followed by full benefits, free medical care and educations “for the children.” for the “poor farmers and industry.” As the “for one reason or another has continued,” white flight from our town to the state of Idaho set in, leaving our city to cope with barios of crime, deteriorated and failing schools, while the politicians and big city special interests talk with hands over their eyes.

    The author has an agenda as did the many special interests that attacked those politicians who stood up and took the fall for America and their constituents. It is not repudiation as the author alleges, it is the forces of PC and secular progressives who don’t give a daxx about America that drove the issue.

    As for labor, it is available all over our community. It fills our jails and prisons and ranks of those living on SSI or camped in the homes of single moms on assistance, but unable or refusing to work because it would possibly “spoil” their safety net or security blanket. They’re also unwilling to work for the low wages and part time jobs provided by the farmers and industry who side with the author on the immigrant issue.

    I think the author needs to get a little closer to the real world.


    • Capt Anon

      My gut tells me you’re nearly 100% correct. however, before i agree completely with you, i’d need to see actual numbers and not antedotal evidence. But i have seen the anecdotal evidence myself. the local community newspaper here has a police blotter. and 9 out of 10 arrests and pics in the paper are of hispanics. are they all illegal? no, are a majority? probably. or thier parents are since so many of the offenders are minors.

      I heard on the radio today that the meat packing plant in colorado who got busted for having roughly 1500 illegal workers had a line of hundreds submitting applications for the vacant jobs. Anecdotal stories also noted how the wages of the meat packers had gone down considerable with the influx of illegal workers. it’s not that americans aren’t willing to work the jobs, because they are. it’s that the owners of such businesses have such low profit margins that they need the under the table low wages of illegals or the depressed real wages of illegals with fake identification to make as much money as they can.

      the author buys that method as ok because it’s his business. he wants the cheap labor. he doesn’t want to pay social security, he wants an overabundance of workers because that depresses wages.

      the author never even discusses the negative impacts the migrant and illegal workers have on our health system, prisons, education system etc. how is it they get free everything when i know of a woman in her 50’s who works her ass off doing what she can to make ends meet. she is disabled, has no insurance, lives in a trailer with a rent of 300 a month, and yet can’t get any of the services the illegals get for free. That is not right. not at all. why do we allow our children to get sub par educations because of the overcrowding caused by the influx of illegal immigration? or less attention from the teacher because the teacher is having to try and communicate simple instructions to classmates who don’t understand English at all, or with a minimum understanding?

      Please. I would rather see higher wages, and increased costs for my food but also have smaller class sizes, spend less on prisons, less on police, less on uninsured patients etc than to embrace illegal workers just so we can have apples for 99 cents a pound.


    Possibly the most uninformed article I’ve read on the Catalyst.

    1. Immigration reform wasn’t why the Republicans lost the election. (Polls show 85% of Americans was immigration enforcement, border security and are against the Presidents amnesty plans.) They lost the election because many were corrupt and the President is hated by his own party members.

    2. As witnessed by the Swift and Co. meat factory raid. The 1200 illegal aliens they employed stoled people SSN’s, ruined their credit and drove wages down because they work cheaply without benefits. This isn’t helping the American public it’s taking jobs away from those American who would’ve held those positions.

    The ex-workers are now suing that company, which is why the Pres. wanted an amnesty last year, he foresaw the mass amounts of law suits over many companies illegal hiring practices and was trying to pull the rug out from under the displaced American workers feet.

    Wake up and smell the breakfast burrito you moron!

    • Richard

      I got news for you. We as Americans owe you jack*. You do not have a right to a job or right benefits. Any job belongs to employer and has the final say who gets them and at what wage both the employer or employee agrees.

      In short there is not one American that has his or job being taken away because of immigration. If one is under cut, it call competition. Do like move to north Korea The got plenty of job is slave labor camps..

      * I am almost tempted to give a right to pimp slap anybody who thinks one has a right to a job.

      • CRAWDUDE

        You are right, no one has a right to a job iin this country you get them through your own merits. But! every person who competes for a job in this country has a right to compete against his fellow countrymen. Not some illiterate that a company in a third world country and brings here , that’s called slavery! Yes, competion is the correct form of business management………… long as everyone gets to play by the same rules………….that’s what made this country great and people who think the way you do are what will destroy this countries greatness.

        Any day you’d like to try your pimp slap threat , let me know! I’ll put a roundhouse upside your head so fast you’ll run home crying to your momma………….which I’m sure you still live with!

        • Richard The voice of Reason

          Who tare you to decide what is fair and the rules.
          No group has right only the individual regardless of national origin. The poor third would person has to come and trade with any person here in America. If I created a company it not own by America but ME! As such who gets the job ant what wag is the decision person who wishes to trade with me as long as force and fraud is not used.

          As far as pimp slapping I would love you to come up ant tell me I have to give you a job because you are an American. I will not use violence, unless an act of fore is use against first, but I will tell you to go to the devil before I give you or anybody who thinks the have any entitle to what is mine.

          • captain_anon

            We as American’s have a right to set the rules. and we do with legislation and the rulings of the courts. The laws forbid people entering this country illegally. plain and simple. illegals do in fact have a huge financial impact on me, my friends and even those i disagree with here in the state and the Country. The depress wages for working americans by increasing the supply and lowering the demand. if an employee fires or lays off an american in order to hire an illegal immigrant who is willing to work for less, then yes, that American has a right to be pissed and i would say a right to that job. it was his in the first place. Illegals do not have the right to negotiate a lower salary, they do not have the right to take no benefits, they do not have the right to circumvent taxes on social security, workmans’ comp etc and therefore reduce the wages of everyone else. the rules are simple. the rules are backed by the law. an employee offering a contract of lower pay and benefits based on illegal variables is in the wrong. plain and simple.

  • richard

    Let’s not forget the toss of the evangelical vote. I had talked to many evangelical and other moral voters who were voting democrat or sitting this one out because of over the top rhetoric of the modern day *Bill the Bucher” As one lady a Caucasian native born American, told me I am voting democrat because republicans want to throw out my husband.

    *See Gangs of New York

  • Tom Tancredo was re-elected in a landslide. I don’t have exact numbers in front of me, but there were somewhere around 100 Reps who were members of the Tancredo brigage who all took a hard line stance on immigration. Something like 93 of them were re-elected, and most of those who weren’t re-elected weren’t in the race at all.

    Look at ballot measures across the country. Pro-America, anti-illegal alien measures passed just about everywhere tried.

    This post is a load of bull.

    I firmly believe that, had Bush and the Senate actually worked with the House to pass ANY meaningful immigration reform without reaching the guest worker issue (an unfunded fence is NOT a solution), we’d still have control of both Houses and a mandate for conservative Republican Presidential ambitions.

    Instead, we have nothing.

    Good job, guys!

  • Bad Man

    What a load of garbage you spew! Stop trying so hard to justify your immoral hiring of ILLEGAL SCUMBALLS to work at your farm. If the ICE came to your place of business I’m willing to bet they would find numerous people working for you that are using forged identity documents and licenses to gain employment. And, of course, we already KNOW you don’t really care if those documents are legal. Maybe if you were fined an amount equal to your last yearly profits you would be singing a diffuerent tune.
    Thnak heaven I own my own business in the tech sector where ILLITERATE ILLEGAL SCUMBALLS rarely do anything other than clean the floors at night. Hope you fail in 2007 – you deserve to!

  • Steven Plunk

    Mr. Stone made his case in a rational manner (even if he made an error about the election being a referendum on immigration). I would expect those opposed to respond with rational arguments as well but I see vitriol and insults. Is this what conservatives have become? People who rely on emotion rather than logic to make their point?

    Mr. Stone concedes that policy must change and expects it to change but from what read he councils tempered gradual change that will not damage the economy. What is wrong with that? Why would people now want his business to fail? I don’t get it and would like to hear a civil argument in opposition. I didn’t learn a thing from the responses I read.

    I agree that some sort of reform must happen but I also sympathize with those who seek a better life here in America. After all most of came from somewhere else.

    A healthy debate needs to take place but please a healthy debate means respect and civility.

  • In all fairness, not all responses to this are vitriolic, and the vitriol comes from both ends of the spectrum. There are cogent facts in the responses for you to read.

  • Someone in the Nursery Biz claiming they can’t hire Americans? NO WAY. I am surprised, NOT.
    SWIFT, CRYDER, IFSCO pallets and other companies have lines of Americans that want to work, now that they are not competing with the 3rd World “workers”.
    What is your greedy excuse for not hiring Americans at an American paycheck bub?

    p.s. You know they are lying when they say “Anti-Immigrant” like this guy. We are Anti-ILLEGAL-ALIEN.
    Immigrants stand in a long line to come here LEGALLY AND they are a benefit not a burden to the rest of us (not you Farmers of course, we pay for the Housing & Education & Medical, not you guys).

  • Tim Lyman

    The real problem is that the ag industry is caught in a catch 22. They know (but cannot prove) many of the people they hire are illegal immigrants with falsified documents, but they are prohibited by law from refusing to hire someone who can provide seemingly valid documentation.

    It’s against the law for these folks to hire illegals, but if they refuse to hire someone based on suspicion the state, feds, race baiting pressure groups and ambulance chasing shysters will be down on them like a ton of bricks for discrimination.

    A few token raids on hapless employers is no substitute for a secure border. Swift, for example, is as much a victim of failed border enforcement as of its own greed.

    The common argument that if ag businesses had to hire all American workers we’d be paying $6 for a head of lettuce is ridiculous. The only way this would play out is if ag worker wages were increased tenfold. It also ignores the fact that we are already paying far in excess of the shelf price of lettuce in collateral costs associated with illegal immigration.

    300,000 illegal aliens in Oregon consume an enormous amount of social services and pay almost no taxes (since Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich” a family of four making under around $30,000 pays no income tax). Over twenty five percent of the prisoners in Oregon jails are illegal aliens.

    Finally, illegal immigration depresses American wages and drives more American workers into poverty and onto social services rolls. At the recently raided swift plant the average wage was $12/hr. A few years ago the same jobs paid $20/hr. At $20/hr those folks were not eligible for social service entitlements, at $12 they are. The cost of maintaining legal employees at similar businesses has simply been shifted from the employer to the taxpayer. For every dollar the government spends on social services they spend $5 in administration. At $20/hr these workers could probably afford to own a home and maybe put something aside for their kids’ college funds. At $12/hr they’re renting and spending every dime they take home. At $20/hr they and their families can have a decent life and their own slice of the American dream. At $12/hr life sucks.

    • Ray Dickerson

      Your comments are accurate as far as I can tell and well reasoned. I don’t disagree with what you said about an employer being in a Catch 22, except… in many cases employers avoid this by using Coyote type labor sub- contractors who then charge the farmer for SS, Comp tax, etc. and pocket the charges as wages, further exploiting the illegals.
      My question is, if we can do instant background checks for firearms purchases, what is it about doing the same thing to verify SSAN’s ? and/or drivers’ licenses? Could we not demand a picture ID for employment. I can’t rent an apartment to an applicant unless I verify ID. I also have credit checks run on all renter applicants, or ask them to bring me one they ran on themselves on free services. I also pick up the phone and call the local law to determine criminal backgrounds. Question is, is it really that hard to perfrom due diligence or is it just easier to not do it and then use the rock and the hard place argument if caught? I find it worth doing whatever it takes to verify background in order to avoid putting a sex offender next to minor children, for example. If the farmer or any employer really wanted to verify employee status and operate on the safe side, there are ways! Ray

      • Tim Lyman

        I think you have a combination of honest employers who want to do what is right and legal, but who are terrified of being victimized by the aforementioned entities, lazy employers who do the minimum required by law to either to minimize expense and effort, or becuse they simply don’t care, and slimebags who are deliberately violating the law.

        I do not recall exactly what the law is concerning what sorts of documentation you are allowed to ask for prior to hiring – I know you MUST get a ssn, but I’m not sure if anything beyond that is required. I have been asked if I am legally allowed to work in the US, but have never had to prove it. What I do know is that whatever investigation you do on one potential employee, you must do on all.

        Not only does the system as it currently stands penalize employers who try not to hire illegals, but were an employer in the ag business to take extraordingary steps to hire only Americans he would be put at a huge competitive disadvantage. He would have a much harder (and more expensive) time hirng employees than his competitors and, I’m sure, he’d have the aforementioned gov’t agencies, pressure groups an dshysters breathing down his neck.

        Doing instant background checks assumes that the person you arechecking is using valid ID. If I buy a firearm with a fake ID, assuming the real ID holder is not a criminal, I will pass the background check. The check is not designed to verify identification, but to verify that the person on the ID has a legal right to own a firearm.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the ag industry has contributed to the dilemma they are in through years of lobbying against border enforcement. The cows, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, are now coming home.

        As much as every freedom loving bone in my body detests the idea, the only answer may be some form of biometric ID combined with instant checking. Anyone who applies for a job shows ID and gets a retina scan, the data is sent to the appropriate government agency and the applicant is given the thumbs up/down.

  • Here is a new take on an emerging immigration issue: Charitable Resettlement Operations

    A New Era of Refugee Resettlement
    By Don Burnett

    Bad Samaritan: The Episcopal Migration Ministries
    By Thomas Allen

  • Bert

    Hey gang,

    The Republican party is a victim of its unrealistic freemarket rhetoric coupled with its actual corporate-oriented policies.

    Blaming the immigrants is silly and won’t do anything toward a resolution.

    If you really want to fix this: develop a reliable identification system, enforce the law against employers who hire illegals, and make political agreements regarding the number of legal immigrants admitted into the country to work.

    Reform INS to work efficiently. It is designed not to work (on purpose.)

    Provide good services and education to legal immigrants so that they transition well into our society. Give all workers rights in the workplace comparable to citizens.

    Don’t waste money on a wall at the border, put those billions of corporate pork dollars into the above recommendations instead.

    Let sectors where demand is not great enough to pay living wages to legal workers drop out of the economy. The fact that people don’t apply for jobs that pay for low wages is a signal.

    However, if such sectors are deemed critical to society (e.g. healthy food for national markets; health care), subsidize wages in those sectors.

    We also need to support a government in Mexico that will actually solve the problems of Mexico’s poor. I doubt the current government down there is focused that way.

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