In late July, Betsy Lamb of the Immigrant Family Advocates (IFA) took the stage at the City Club of Central Oregon. She went toe to toe on the issue of immigration with the leader of the anti-immigrant group Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR). Though they’re often quoted as a right-wing advocacy group, OFIR is also listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks hate groups) as a “nativist extremist” organization.
When we heard that the City Club Forum topic for July was Illegal Immigration: To Allow or To Deport and that Mr. Ludwick was a featured speaker, ROP and IFA worked together to identify and prepare our own speaker to address the topic from a reality-based human dignity perspective. After years of research and publishing a 20-page report on deportations in Deschutes County, A Plea for Compassion and Common Sense, IFA was well positioned to share the other side of the story.
So we contacted Robert Killian, the Executive Director of City Club and found that he shared our values of dialogue and respectful engagement. He adjusted the schedule for us last minute. Following in ROP’s 2011 themes of being bold & taking up space, Betsy took the lead and shone. Just the sub title of the news article that followed gives a sense of hope in these divided times: “Surprisingly Civil Atmosphere at City Club Meeting.”
Our country has a desperate need for leadership that can keep dialogue about divisive issues alive. The left/right gap is growing. The right-wing pundits & politicians create a constant backdrop of scapegoating and finger-pointing. Human dignity activists can help to bridge this gap.
Following in Betsy’s footsteps, ROP will be building up an Immigrant Fairness speakers’ bureau this year. Do you enjoy public speaking? Do you see how a progressive voice in the Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, or local Eagles club could have an impact? Contact us to join the ROP Immigrant Fairness speakers bureau. We will send you a copy of Betsy’s speech on deportations, and follow up to schedule a personalized session to train your group members on presenting a pro-dignity perspective on immigration.
Still need some inspiration? See the article below, or the full City Club debate on their website here: http://cityclubco.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=41&Itemid=84Bend Forum’s Hot Topic: Illegal Immigration
Suprisingly Civil Atmosphere At City Club MeetingBy Shanna Mendiola, KTVZ.COM
POSTED: 6:10 pm PDT July 21, 2011
UPDATED: 6:55 pm PDT July 21, 2011
BEND, Ore. —
Deport illegal immigrants or allow them to stay? It’s an ongoing, vocal debate in the community and around the nation. Immigration reform was the hot topic of discussion at Thursday’s City Club of Central Oregon meeting in Bend.
The City Club’s purpose is simple: “Where conversation creates community”. Thursday’s forum did just that, with discussion on a tough ongoing debate.Speakers on both sides of the issue presented their thoughts.
“They set up in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, they give them food stamps, they give them housing, they bend over backwards to break our laws — its no wonder illegal aliens are contemptuous of our laws,” said Jim Ludwick, founder of Oregonians For Immigration Reform.
“Immigration law touches on every nationality, every color,” said Dan Larsson, an immigration law attorney in Bend. “It’s not just a Hispanic problem.”
A major issue raised by the speakers was whether crime rates were on the rise due to undocumented immigrants.
“In Oregon, over the last three years, we’ve had a 22 percent increase in the number of inmates with (federal) ICE holds at the Oregon State Penitentiary,” Ludwick said.
“There’s a lot of people who are in the country illegally that commit crimes. But there’s a greater number of people who are here legally that also commit crimes,” said Larsson. “So is that the problem, the cause of all the ills that we have?”
“I think this focus today is very much on the legal aspects of deportation,” said Betsy Lamb, a supporter of immigration reform. “And I’d just like to say that there’s another law that we believe in very strongly, that most faith traditions are behind, that says, ‘Welcome the stranger, love your neighbor. Do onto others as you would have them do to you.'”
While there was no clear sign any minds were changed, City Club officials said they hoped the forum promotes more discussion about this issue in the community.
The City Club of Central Oregon meets every third Thursday of the month, discussing a variety of issues facing our community.For more information: