Not even a biting cold kept illegal-immigration opponents from attending a rally Monday on the steps of the state Capitol.
About 200 people gathered to spread their message that increased border protection and tougher enforcement of immigration laws are needed.
The demonstration was sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a McMinnville-based nonprofit group opposed to illegal immigration.
The rally came one week before the November midterm elections.
“That’s the reason we held it, obviously,” said Jim Ludwick, OFIR’s president. “We have people running for office who made it an issue and they’re not afraid to speak out, and that’s what we need.
“Issues shouldn’t be hidden in corners. Issues should be discussed openly.”
Carrying signs with patriotic and anti-illegal-immigrant messages, supporters vented their frustrations and lashed out at certain legislators, as well as undocumented people and those who employ them.
They also were critical of the media, which they said turn a blind eye to illegal immigration.
Members and supporters said that allowing people to come into the country illegally is the same as giving them permission to break the nation’s laws.
They also rejected statements that undocumented immigrants take jobs Americans don’t want.
“I would like to know when construction became a job that we don’t want,” said Renee Lindsey, the Republican challenger in Senate District 6.
The crowd responded with thunderous applause.
Lindsey was one of a number of candidates seeking office or running for re-election who spoke at the rally.
Mike Erickson, the Republican challenger in the 5th Congressional District, used the platform to criticize Democratic incumbent Darlene Hooley.
Saying that Hooley co-sponsored legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits, Erickson told the crowd, “You deserve a congressman who is part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
Meanwhile, state Rep. Linda Flores, R-Keizer, accused Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury of not verifying the citizenship status of people who register to vote.
Broadcasting live from the rally was conservative talk-show host Lars Larson.
Off to one side of the Capitol steps, Michael Forest stayed busy answering questions about membership in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
The group provides law enforcement agencies with evidence of immigration-law violations.
During the rally, OFIR unveiled the first of three billboard projects spotlighting illegal immigration. The billboard is on Lancaster Drive NE, in an area with a heavy Latino presence.