Immigration Reform Coalition

Thatcher-Flores join New National Immigration Reform Legislative Coalition
Also gain Marion County Commissioners Support For Inmate Reimbursements

(Salem) As Congress prepares to embark on a new plan to deal with illegal immigrants State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul) and State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) announce they’ve joined a new national coalition on immigration reform. It’s called “State Legislators for Legal Immigration” and it kicked off today in 25 states around the country founded by Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County).

“Clearly those of us in the Oregon Legislature who want serious reforms are in the minority,” said Thatcher. “There is strength in numbers and this new national effort will help send a stronger message.” The group’s mission statement calls for full cooperation among federal, state and local governments to secure America’s borders against unlawful immigration. The Coalition also wants to eliminate economic attractions and incentives that continue to lure illegal aliens across the border including public benefits.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures nearly 1200 measures have been introduced this year in state assemblies across the country. That’s more than twice the number as last year. “I’ve talked to dozens of my colleagues from other states who want legitimate reform, not lip service,” said Flores. “Unfortunately, I’m afraid that’s all we’re going to get in Oregon this session.”

Thatcher and Flores launched a package of immigration reform bills in February called the Sensible Immigration Reform Package. Since then only one bill out of the package has had a hearing and House Democrats approved a measure on the floor which basically says Oregon wants to keep giving drivers’ licenses to people who are not here legally.

In another recent development the Marion County Board of Commissioners has signed a letter of support for House Joint Memorial 8, the one bill in the package that did get a hearing. The letter reads in part: “current expenses to incarcerate illegal immigrants far outpace the reimbursements received from the federal government.” HJM 8 urges Congress to pay the full costs to state and local governments to house illegal immigrant inmates. The estimated annual cost to Marion County taxpayers is $420,000 to house an average of 15 illegal immigrant inmates on a daily basis. Last year the county only received $172,000 in reimbursements from the federal government. It should be noted, one-third of those inmates are booked on charges related to meth crimes.

As for the latest proposal in Washington, D.C. both Thatcher and Flores are disappointed. Representative Flores pointed out, “this is just another form of amnesty that does very little to stem the tide of illegal immigrants entering the US every year.” Representative Thatcher agreed, adding, “once again it falls on the states to pass laws ensuring only legal immigrants are getting access to voter registration and other services.” ####