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Evidence wanting

In the flurry of discussion about the new hot Oregon TV spot, one key point should be brought central: There seems to be no evidence that the problems it cites are in any way real.

This isn’t true of most TV political ads, which generally cite evidence (maybe in the form of news stories) where specific allegations are made. Ron Saxton, the Republican challenger to Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, has typically done this too, as on his ad about Kulongoski and taxes.

Not so on his new ad, now in heavy rotation, on illegal immigrants. There have at least been some past reports (one, as cited, in the Oregonian) suggesting – using statistical estimates, of course, not a census – that the number of illegals immigrants in Oregon is about 175,000. Of course, no one – no one – really knows if that’s an accurate number. The Saxton ad cites it as established fact.

Then: “Under Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon gives drivers licenses to illegal aliens who use them to get state services and even vote. This costs Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Ron Saxton believes that illegal means illegal.”

On the latter point, actually, so does Kulongoski, who has said his administration enforces the law against unauthorized immigration as best it can. Beyond that are some specific allegations: that illegals actually obtain drivers licenses; that they use them to obtain services; (implicitly at least) that they vote; and that this costs the taxpayers of the state millions of dollars annually.

These sound like documentable facts, if true. State officials, including Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, say they’re not true. In the Oregonian today, “‘I looked at the past 15 years of general elections,’ Bradbury said. Of more than 10 million votes cast, only 10 prompted investigation into citizenship, he said, and of those 10, only two were prosecuted.”

We’ve seen in recent reports no rebuttal about the facts of the matter from the saxton campaign. So this morning, we posed the question: “Concerning the current ad on immigration: What are the specifics on illegal immigrants voting or obtaining drivers licenses? The charges have been criticized as unfounded; what foundation do you have for them?”

The campaign responded promptly. In full: “Here is a quote from Sec. Bradbury. This seems to refute his statement to the paper. On Saturday, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury urged participants to take a stand against proof of citizenship and other identification requirements ‘designed to reduce participation’ in elections. – Salem Statesman Journal, 01/08/06 ”

But that’s a puzzle: Bradbury seems to be suggesting that the ID proposals have as their real purpose a suppression of voting, a suggestion he would make only if he thought their surface purpose – to keep non-citizens from voting – was not a real problem. It seems consistent with his statements to the Oregonian.

Not much of a response – no facts at all, not even any anecdotes, to demonstrate that illegal aliens have been obtaining drivers licenses, have been getting state services (as, probably, some have), have been voting, or have actually cost Oregon taxpayers a dime.

Maybe, in fact, they have – but so far that’s guesswork. Until we see more, we’re going to have to assume that on the subject of illegal immigrants, the Saxton campaign is simply making it up because the words “illegal alien” are a hot button in a tight race.

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One Comment

  1. MariFoo MariFoo October 5, 2006

    From my research today pn the State of Oregon Website, Oregon requires 2 pieces of primary documentation, or 1 piece of primary documentation and 2 pieces of secondary documentation, to get a drivers license. Primary documentation is the usual government-issued birth certificate, Passport, US Immigration documents proving legal status, etc. The clinker is that it also includes “Consulate ID Card approved by DMV: Mexican Consulate Card issued in Oregon; Guatemalan Consulate Card issued in the US.” Secondary documentation includes Student Body or Job Corps Ids, Border Crossing cards, Tax forms, Medicare cards, Social Security card, etc. Social Security requires documents proving citizenship or legal status, age, and identity, again with the Consulate Card? The Mexican Consulate is not especially motivated to deny cards to citizens who want to move to the US and send home their share of the $ 20b annual remittance.

    I worked part time in the City Attorney’s office for a few years recently where one of my duties was to run civil forfeiture files (drugs) through an electronic imager. After a while, I started to keep count of the number of documents and the numbers of Hispanics, based on their names. Of course, I have no idea how many were citizens, or had legal status, or were in fact illegal. But their numbers came out 50% of the total though thet were only, supposedly, about 15% of our local population. And quite a few of them had multiple drivers licenses and/or Social Security Cards. One man had 14 aliases, 10 Social Security cards, and 6 drivers licenses!

    I also checked the Website for the Oregon Dept of Human Resources and found that, apparently, emergency services in Oregon are available to anyone who is poor, whether it’s food, cash, or medical care. But they have to fill out a 13-page application, provide identification, Social Security card (if they have one), proof of legal status or citizenship and proof of income, and are assigned a case worker who helps them find other help for the long term. The Oregon Health Plan requires proof of non-citizen status: Border crossing cards, Resident Alien card, non-immigrant visa…or the Consulate ID card?

    While there I looked at some graphs for FY2004-2006 on Health Plan total clients and exempt clients served by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Citizen/Alien Waived Emergent Medical (CAWEM) program.
    * Total Clients graph showed a relatively steady rate with a high of 445,000 in Aug 2004 to a low of 440,000 in Jul 2006.
    * CAWEM program showed a steady decline from a high of 25,000 in Jun 2004 to a low of 17,800 in Jul 2006.
    * CHIP program showed a steady increase from 22,000 in Jul 2004 to 30,000 in Mar 2006. (All these figures are rounded and approximate.)

    It appears we are serving more children, but fewer adults over all. The problem is that the numbers are not broken down demographically. So disadvantaged people from all races and nationalities are included. Someone with more time, contacts and expertise will have to flesh out the details and decide what this all means.

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