Nativism Watch

Oregon anti-immigrant group doubles down on extremism after referendum failure

Imagine2050 Staff • Jul 29, 2016
Oregon communities protest anti-immigrant hate, June 2015
Oregon communities protest anti-immigrant hate, June 2015

It’s been a rough summer for the leading Oregon anti-immigrant group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), which has long embraced racism and extremism, using fear mongering to achieve its nativist policy goals.

Conservative pundits and the rest of the organized anti-immigrant movement celebrated OFIR for spearheading a successful referendum effort in 2014. The vote overturned legislation granting driving privileges to some undocumented Oregonians. OFIR sought to replicate that success this year with new ballot measures on other mainstay nativist policies including mandatory E-Verify workplace authorization, making English Oregon’s official language, and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voter registration.

Earlier this summer, OFIR quietly announced that it had abandoned those plans. As the July 8 deadline for signatures to qualify the ballot measure neared, OFIR’s website declared the group “could have no hope of success” with gathering signatures and “decided it will be necessary to cease campaigning.”

OFIR’s failed, post-2014 referendum efforts were admittedly ambitious. By expanding the focus from one particular issue in 2014 to multiple policies, the group was already stretching its resources. OFIR also struggled to fundraise for their work. Records from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office indicate that OFIR’s 2016 ballot measure campaign raised less than $10,000. By contrast, OFIR’s 2014 referendum committee received over $140,000. As The Oregonian reported, nearly $100,000 of those funds came from one man, Loren Parks, and were used for paid signature gathering and polling.

Without Parks’ support, OFIR’s 2016 efforts could be described charitably as optimistic, at best.

Failure hasn’t slowed the Oregon anti-immigrant movement’s embrace of extremism

Despite these campaign failures, OFIR’s nativist goals remain crystal clear. And, like other anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim groups, OFIR is setting its bigoted sights on a particularly vulnerable target: refugees.

On August 13, OFIR will hold a meeting featuring noted anti-immigrant and anti-refugee activist Paul Nachman.

Nachman is a founding member of anti-immigrant group Montanans for Immigration Law Enforcement, which, like OFIR, has been listed as a state contact group by leading anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In recent months, Nachman has worked with local chapters of anti-Muslim group ACT for America, whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment in his home state of Montana.

Nachman joined the advisory board of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish earlier this year and is also a regular contributor to the white nationalist website

Unfortunately, Nachman is not OFIR’s only connection to the racist website that has been publicized this week.

On July 25, the website—which takes its name from the first child of European ancestry supposedly born in North America—published a nearly 2,000 word article authored by active OFIR member Richard LaMountain. The article is one of three authored by LaMountain for VDARE since October 2014.

In his article, LaMountain cites the 2014 driver card referendum result as the reason Donald Trump should aggressively campaign in the reliably blue state of Oregon. LaMountain argues that in Oregon, “unlike in other blue states, voters have supported, and overwhelmingly, a statewide ballot measure aimed explicitly against illegal immigration.”

LaMountain conveniently omits the more recent ballot measure failures suffered by the Oregon anti-immigrant movement.

Whether the Republican nominee accepts LaMountain’s advice remains to be seen. But one thing is clear. OFIR’s inability to replicate its 2014 efforts have not hampered its bigoted activism or its willingness to cozy up to extremist elements like VDARE.

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