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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedUpinFarmersBranch's Avatar
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    Oregon wants cheap illegal alien labor,rallies alien groups

    Mon 9 Mar 2009 05:53
    Oregon wants cheap illegal alien labor and rallies pro-illegal alien groups to help out

    Categories: All Posts , Illegal Alien Nation

    By Gosia Wozniacka, The POS Pro-Illegal Alien Oregonian

    Though immigration has dwindled as an issue in Washington, D.C., overshadowed by the economic crisis, local groups in Oregon and other states are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, hoping to jump-start the conversation.

    Despite historic differences, three unlikely bedfellows — businesses, unions and faith leaders — are teaming up to lobby legislators, raise awareness and add economic arguments to an often emotional debate.

    "It’s very symbolic that we’ve decided to go in the same direction on the issue of immigration," said Jeff Stone of the Coalition for a Working Oregon, a group of 20 Oregon employer associations. "It doesn’t mean that businesses have gone to the left, or unions to the right. Both sides still have their opinions, but we’re setting them aside."

    The three groups are asking lawmakers to halt all immigration-related legislation on the state level and declare support for swift federal action. Along with their counterparts in other states, they are pushing Congress for a September vote on immigration, and they want local legislators to pass a nonbinding resolution supporting President Barack Obama’s reform agenda.

    That agenda includes securing borders, creating a system to regulate the flow of workers, and allowing undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line to become citizens.

    The three groups come to reform with different perspectives. Employers want access to a reliable, legal work force. Union leaders want workers to have legal status, so that they don’t have to hide in the shadows and are not taken advantage of. And faith leaders want to show how the immigration system affects individuals and their families.

    "We came together to talk sense, to explain that there are consequences to enforcement-only actions, and to change the debate to a more reasonable, humane, realistic conversation, instead of vilifying a whole ethnic group," Stone said. "Ultimately, we’re going to have to live together as a community."

    Francisco Lopez, coordinator of the immigrant-rights group CAUSA, said the groups wanted a more "holistic" approach to immigration reform.

    "Our goal is to find common ground," he said.

    Business speaks up
    So far, the groups say their common goal is to keep people in the country working and living legally while their immigration status is resolved. An estimated 150,000 such immigrants live in Oregon, according to a 2005 Pew Hispanic Center study.

    Businesses are the newest player in the battle for reform. Until recently, most employers kept quiet when the subject of employing illegal workers came up. But the federal "no-match" rule, which would require businesses to fire undocumented workers, galvanized them.

    The Coalition for a Working Oregon says employers can’t afford to lose the workers — there aren’t enough native Oregonians to do the jobs — and they need a better mechanism to get a legal work force.

    "We realized we’ll lose our workers and we’re always playing defense," said Stone, co-chairman of the coalition. "Clearly, we either needed to articulate our voice and help shape policy, or have policy shape us."

    The coalition, which represents more than 300,000 workers in nurseries, construction, dairy farms and other top industries, has held a series of immigration debates in chambers of commerce around the state, lobbying state lawmakers, and building a base of supporters to blanket legislators with calls when the time is right.

    The unions want unauthorized immigrant workers legalized so leaders can better advocate for employee rights in the workplace. The unions include PCUN, or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, with more than 5,000 registered members, and the Service Employees International Union, which represents 45,000 workers in Oregon.

    "We want to make sure workers have a voice on the job, and it’s very difficult for workers to have a voice when some are forced to work in the shadows," said Arthur Towers, political director for SEIU Local 503.

    PCUN and CAUSA are holding leadership training and house meetings to mobilize supporters, especially Latinos who are U.S. citizens. They are also lobbying state lawmakers and planning a march to bring several thousand Oregonians to Salem on May 1.

    "We need to show that we have the capacity to mobilize," Lopez said. "We need to make noise locally so it’s reflected on the national level."

    And faith leaders in dozens of congregations across the state are putting a human face on the debate by holding presentations on immigration and planning legislative action to push for reform, including writing letters, phoning, holding rallies and visiting legislators.

    "We’re going back to our basic faith values around justice, human dignity and the inherent value of all people," said Sarah Loose, coordinator of Oregon New Sanctuary Movement, which unites more than 20 congregations that support immigrants’ rights, no matter their legal status.

    "It’s about seeing people as more than labor, as our fellow brothers and sisters who have the same needs as people everywhere," she said.

    The opposition
    Opponents of legal and illegal immigration advocate a different kind of overhaul. Enforcement and a severe reduction of current immigration levels should be its pillars, said Jim Ludwick, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. In the meantime, the state should help fix the system.

    A handful of Republican lawmakers in Salem have introduced a dozen immigration-related bills, ranging from requiring proof of legal presence to be hired by the state to requiring employers to verify employees’ legal status through the federal E-Verify database.

    "Yes, the immigration system needs to be fixed, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon," said Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer. "And I don’t picture some of these issues being addressed by Congress."

    But the political reality in Salem doesn’t favor Thatcher’s bills. At a recent meeting at the Capitol, Debbie Koreski, legislative director for House Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, told reform proponents that most of the bills would not even get a hearing. Republicans don’t have the votes because of the Democratic supermajority in both house. And legislators are still raw, Koreski said, from last year’s discussion about stricter driver’s license requirements — blocking undocumented immigrants from getting a license — and are not eager to take up the debate.

    The economy has also eclipsed the conversation. Though the crisis and the plight of unemployed Americans may slow reform, proponents agree, it won’t stop it. Because for the most part, Stone said, laid-off American workers don’t want the jobs that immigrants held.

    "Americans don’t choose to do those kinds of jobs anymore," he said. "It’s hard work, with your hands. Try working 10 hours in the rain all day digging trees."

    If the economy grows worse, small movement across job sectors may be seen, he said, but this argument also distracts from solving the overall issue.

    "Once the economy rebounds, we’ll be stuck with the same problem," said Bill Perry, vice president of government affairs for the Oregon Restaurant Association. In fact, he said, the economic crisis might be the perfect time to resolve immigration. "If you want to get the economy to where it was, you have to meet the work force demand."

    And enforcement alone could be counterproductive to economic recovery.

    "You can’t in the same stroke that you try to repair the economy use enforcement measures which are harming those very sectors of the economy," Stone said. ... -help-out/
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  2. #2
    MW is offline
    Senior Member MW's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
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    The Coalition for a Working Oregon says employers can’t afford to lose the workers — there aren’t enough native Oregonians to do the jobs — and they need a better mechanism to get a legal work force.
    If that was the case, which I'm sure it's not, there are plenty of Americans that would relocate to Oregon for jobs paying a living wage! However, with that said, we all know the true motivation behind this push is reduced labor costs (cheap labor).

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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