Out of the Blue: Oregon Voters Send the New GOP Majority a Message on Immigration

Ira Mehlman
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Posted: Nov 12, 2014 12:01 AM
Out of the Blue: Oregon Voters Send the New GOP Majority a Message on Immigration

Immigration was on voters’ minds when they went to the polls last Tuesday. But immigration was on the ballot in only one state in the 2014 elections. In Oregon, Measure 88 gave voters the opportunity to ratify or reject the Legislature’s 2013 decision to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

In solid blue Oregon, they rejected it by a whopping 67 percent-33 percent margin. They rejected it in 35 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Measure 88 was rejected by voters in conservative eastern Oregon, and in liberal western Oregon. In fact, the ballot measure to override the Legislature and governor on driver’s license for illegal aliens drew more votes than any candidate seeking statewide office in Oregon.

The results of the 2014 midterm elections are being correctly interpreted as a repudiation of President Obama and his political agenda. Few of those of those policies have been more in the public’s eye, or more unpopular, than his handling of immigration. This summer’s surge of illegal aliens, who responded to his virtual non-enforcement policies by pouring across the border, combined with the president’s promise to abuse his executive authority to grant de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, have solidified the perception that the administration’s policies are radically out of step with the public interest.

Adding insult to injury in recent years, an increasing number of state and local governments have extended new benefits and protections to illegal aliens, over the objections of citizens and taxpayers. In Oregon, one of the bluest states in the nation, voters decided to fight back.

Measure 88 was put on the ballot by citizen volunteers who collected 58,000 signatures from voters all across Oregon in just 90 days. The initiative faced stiff opposition from the state’s political establishment, business elite, and union leaders, who convinced the Legislature and Gov. John Kitzhaber to ignore public opposition and grant licenses to illegal aliens.

The Oregon vote is not an anomaly; rather it represented the unfiltered voice of the American people on an issue that is at, or near the top of their list of concerns. Immigration was a key issue in many House and Senate races in last week’s elections. In key races that determined control of the Senate, the candidate, or the incumbent who lost supported amnesty for illegal aliens.

The message of the voters appears to have fallen on deaf ears in the White House. Less than 24 hours after the polls closed, President Obama, who famously said in 2009 that, “Elections have consequences,” defiantly reaffirmed his intent to ignore the consequences of the 2014 elections and act alone on immigration. According to national exit polling, 74 percent of voters (including an outright majority of Democrats) oppose the president acting on his own to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, and 56 percent believe Congress should shut-off funding to him if he tries.

If last week’s elections handed Republicans a mandate for anything, it was to serve as a bulwark against Obama’s unbridled use of executive action to implement policies that enjoy little public support. Since Obama himself has advertised to the world that his next, and most audacious, assertion of executive authority will be to grant legal status and work authorization to millions of illegal aliens, the new Republican majority will not have to wait long to prove to the American people that they are worthy of their trust.

Seventy-eight percent of voters who turned out last week cited immigration as an important issue in deciding who to vote for. While other issues also weighed in people’s voting choices, it is impossible to ignore the fact that in every Senate race where the seat flipped from blue to red, the incumbent, or the candidate (in the case of open seats) supported amnesty for illegal aliens.

As is the case after every election, the pundits and the political strategists will all have their own theories to explain the results. The pro-amnesty business lobby, which has close ties to the Republican leadership, will doubtless deny the groundswell of opposition to amnesty.

They’ll certainly try. But what they cannot explain away is Oregon. In deep blue Oregon, immigration was on the ballot and voters gave a resounding thumbs-down to rewarding illegal immigration.