One of the biggest surprises of this election year is that the immigration issue appears to have exploded in Oregon. Quite why this perennially liberal state, with a Congressional Delegation blemished by a D+ record
on immigration, should be should be asserting national leadership on the question is not obvious, but it is:Candidates hop aboard immigration bandwagon – Janie Har The Oregonian Sunday October 29 2006
Illegal immigration has exploded into a political free-for-all issue this fall, becoming the me-too topic for both Democrats and Republicans in campaigns from Oregon`s top executive post to seats in the Legislature.
Eugene Democratic House candidate Chris Edwards wants to deport illegal immigrants convicted of drunken driving instead of letting them sit in Oregon jails. Terry Rilling, a Cornelius Republican running for the House, favors prohibiting undocumented immigrants from getting public services. Everyone, it seems, wants to make sure only legal residents get an Oregon driver`s license.
Part of the credit apparently belongs to the Republican Gubernatorial candidate, who apparently has quite a long record
of taking an interest in the issue. Part unquestionably belongs to dedicated grassroots work by organizations like Oregonians For Immigration Reform
, which is strong enough to stage demonstrations
, and whose leader Jim Ludwick (profiled in Area activist works to curb illegal immigration –Thelma Guerro Statesman Journal October 30 2006
) was modest enough to tell The Oregonian
Four years ago, we couldn`t get candidates running for governor to even talk to us. I`d like to say it`s something we`re doing, but quite frankly, there are polls, and they show that Americans are as mad as wet hens about illegal immigration."
Indeed, there have been signs for some time that some Oregon public officials
(and news organizations
) in the state were aware of the matter.
I wonder, also, if the State’s famous tradition of environmentalism
has been influential.
But what is particularly significant is the reaction of the Democrats. As Professor Jim Moore
of Pacific University says
The Democrats are seeing this as an issue that could cause problems and are fighting back in the traditional way by saying ’yes, we do that too.’…everybody is saying there’s a problem. If you don’t, you’re going to lose elections. Nobody wants to be seen as basically saying foreigners can come in and have a major role in the community.”
(Immigration issue back in Oregon campaigns By Joseph B. Frazier Associated Press October 25 2006
This response proves that the message from the Oregon electorate is loud and unmistakable.