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Bend Forum’s Hot Topic: Illegal Immigration


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.

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