driver's license

'No' to Driving Privileges for Illegal Aliens

WASHINGTON - The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) marked a victory after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court decision to dismiss a case that sought to force the State of Oregon to grant driving privileges to illegal aliens.

IRLI had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in 2016 on behalf of its client Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) in the case of M.S. v. Brown, in which plaintiffs looked to overturn as unconstitutional the outcome of the November 2014 general election in Oregon. Through the Oregon Constitution’s referendum veto process, Oregon voters overwhelmingly rejected, by 66%, a bill passed by the he legislature and signed by the governor that would have extended eligibility for driving privileges to unlawfully present persons. OFIR was the driving force behind the referendum veto that collected the requisite number of signatures to get the issue placed on the ballot.

The case, brought by five admitted illegal aliens and two illegal alien special interest groups, was dismissed in May 2016 when an Oregon district court ruled that the plaintiffs could not show that an order from the court could redress their complaint as the court had no power to overturn a referendum or force the state to pass legislation giving illegal aliens driving privileges. In its brief, IRLI agreed with the district court and argued further that the plaintiffs also failed to demonstrate an injury, a necessary element of standing to sue, as illegal aliens have no constitutional right to driving privileges, and, in fact, do not even possess the constitutional right to interstate travel (which citizens and legal aliens possess) as a result of their illegal presence in the U.S.

There are a number of reasons why granting driving privileges to illegal aliens is not in the interests of states or their citizens. Among them, states have a legitimate interest in limiting their finite resources to citizens and legal aliens and in not allowing their government machinery to be a facilitator for the concealment of illegal aliens. There is also a legitimate concern that persons subject to immediate or subsequent deportation will not be financially responsible for property damage or personal injury due to automobile accidents. Finally, granting driving privileges to illegal aliens harms national security because, unlike legal aliens, illegal aliens have not undergone background checks or face-to-face interviews to determine whether they pose a national security threat.

“This is a tremendous win for residents of Oregon and the American people at large,” said Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director and general counsel. “Since the presence of illegal aliens in the United States is a violation of federal law, the notion that those aliens should be granted the privilege to drive and the right to travel freely throughout the country is absurd. The result of this decision will be safer communities that better serve the interests of their citizens and legal residents.” 

GREAT News - the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirms our stunning victory on Measure 88

Alert date: 
2018-09-05
Alert body: 

We just learned from our attorneys that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the lawsuit against our victory in 2014 to overturn driver cards for illegal aliens - Measure 88.
 

Five self-identified, alleged illegal aliens filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Oregon for allowing the will of Oregon voters to overturn the bill giving an official Oregon driver card to illegal aliens. The bill that Measure 88 overturned was Senate Bill 833 which had passed both chambers of the State Legislature and was signed by Governor Kitzhaber with great fanfare on the steps of the Capitol before a large crowd on May Day, May 1. 2013.
 
The vast majority of voters understood the implications of giving an official state-issued, photo ID, in the form of a driver card to individuals who could not prove they are legally in the country, and they DEFEATED Measure 88, expressing their disapproval of Senate Bill 833.
 
For the record, Measure 88 was defeated by 66 percent of Oregon voters. Close to one million Oregonians voted against driver cards. Thirty-five of Oregon’s 36 counties voted it down. Eighteen counties voted by over 80 percent against it. Measure 88 lost in all five of Oregon’s congressional districts. A majority of Oregon Democrats, Republicans and independents voted against issuing driver cards to illegal aliens.
 
Our opponents outspent us roughly ten to one. One Hollywood TV star, gave a $50,000 donation to the pro driver card measure, almost as much money as our campaign had in total.
 
Measure 88 was debated in public forums, in newspapers, on the radio, in the voter’s pamphlet, and on TV. Voters had a clear understanding of the issue.  It’s not often we praise the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals - but, this time they deserve iit!
 
Measure 88 was a Referendum calling for a no vote to rid citizens of a bad bill that had passed the Legislature but had not yet been put into effect. 

Measure 105 is an Initiative which must have a YES vote to REPEAL a bad law that’s been on the books for years.
 
Let’s make it two victories in a row.  Let’s overturn Oregon’s sanctuary law - Vote YES on Measure 105.  Talk to your friends, neighbors, relatives and fellow citizens - ask them to Vote YES on Measure 105, too!
 
YES on Measure 105 Lawn and field signs will be available this weekend - go to
and order YOUR signs today!

EXCLUSIVE: DRIVER WHO ALLEGEDLY KILLED OREGON COUPLE IN DUI CRASH IS ILLEGAL ALIEN, ICE SAYS

The man suspected of killing an Oregon couple in a high-speed drunk driving collision earlier in August is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, The Daily Caller News Foundation learned.

Eduardo de la Lima Vargas, 39, allegedly ran a red light on a state highway in Salem, Oregon, on Aug. 19, striking a motorcycle being driven by Logan Wilson, 34, and his wife Jessi, 32. The collision tossed the Wilsons from the motorcycle, fatally injuring both.

Vargas blew a .10 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer roughly two hours after the crash, according to a Salem police report. Investigators believe he was probably driving at twice the legal alcohol limit at the time he crashed into the Wilsons, who are survived by four young children. (RELATED: Suspect In DUI Killing Of Colts Player Is Twice-Deported Illegal Immigrant)

Following the wreck, Vargas was booked into the Marion County jail on two counts of manslaughter, as well as one count each of reckless endangering, reckless driving and driving under the influence. He remains in state custody on a $500,000 bond.

Additionally, Vargas is now the subject of a federal immigration detention request. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the detainer Aug. 24 in a statement to Salem-based crime researcher David Olen Cross, who shared it Thursday with TheDCNF.

“On August 23, 2018, ICE deportation officers lodged an immigration detainer with the Marion County Jail on Eduardo De la Lima Vargas, following his arrest for DUI resulting in death,” agency spokesperson Lori Haley said in a statement, according to Cross. “Mr. De la Lima Vargas is a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in the United States.”

Cross inquired about Vargas’s immigration status as a part of his research into criminal activity by noncitizens in Oregon. On behalf of Republican state Sen. Kim Thatcher, he creates monthly reports using data from ICE and the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) in order to document the cost of incarcerating foreign nationals in the state prison system, where one in 15 inmates is a criminal alien.

Cross’s research has shown that about three-quarters of all criminal aliens in Oregon’s prison system are serving time for what the FBI defines as violent crimes — murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — or sex crimes under the Oregon criminal code.

Of the 943 Oregon state prison inmates with active ICE detainers as of July, 731 — 77 percent — have been convicted of those violent crimes or sex offenses, according to Cross’s latest report. That compares to about 60 percent of “domestic” inmates who were convicted of the same offenses. (RELATED: Suspected Oregon Nail Gun Attacker Is Previously Deported Illegal Alien From Mexico)

Oregon is one of the nation’s most active states when it comes to limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. It has had a sanctuary law on the books since 1987 that prohibits state and local law enforcement resources from being used to enforce federal immigration law. Oregon expanded its sanctuary protections in 2017 with a law that forbids schools, courts and other public agencies from sharing information with immigration authorities unless required to do so by federal law.

The move to strengthen protections for illegal immigrants easily passed Oregon’s Democratic-controlled legislature, but it was also met with pushback from Republican lawmakers and grassroots conservative groups. A ballot initiative to overturn Oregon’s sanctuary state law garnered more than 97,000 signatures in July, well above the 88,000 needed to qualify for the Nov. 6 general election.

How Barack Obama's DACA Encouraged Identity Theft by Illegal Aliens

As the dilemma of what to do about the illegal alien participants in former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has dominated the immigration debate for more than a year, a new investigation has revealed the lengths to which the previous chief executive facilitated the program.

They did so by, among other things, ignoring widespread identity theft by illegal aliens and keeping Americans in the dark about being cut off from their Social Security benefits. The findings show how DACA is not the act of benevolence that is portrayed in the media, and has actually caused great harm to American citizens. It simply has to end.

Diving deep into the beginnings of DACA, Jan Ting, a law professor at Temple and former assistant commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, details how the Obama Homeland Security Department (DHS) kept the use of stolen Social Security numbers from being counted against would-be DACA applicants.

As he shows, the promise to forgive the crime, one that is pervasive among illegal aliens, was consciously designed to incentivize DACA-eligible “dreamers” — for the never-passed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — to come out of the shadows and apply for the program.

In addition to being a blatant violation of the Constitution and our immigration laws, DACA can now be seen as the product of an administration that refused to enforce the law for political reasons, and at the expense of honest citizens.

Further, Ting reveals how the DHS omission was supplemented by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which halted a program started in the 1970s that communicated to working people when there was a mismatch between the information submitted in employer wage reports and what was in the agency’s database.

The notices, which had formerly been posted to millions of people across the country and appear to be mandatory under SSA regulations, are important because when a submitted name/SSN combination isn't lining up in SSA's system, the citizen or legal resident's number appears illegitimate, which can lead to their Social Security benefits' being frozen.

This can happen, for instance, if there's a typographical error on an employer's W-2 wage report or when a newly married woman changes her name but forgets to report it. According to SSA records, hundreds of thousands of legitimate SSN users had been responding to such letters annually, requesting help from the SSA to ensure they received the benefits to which they are entitled.

Over the years, however, the vast majority of letter recipients have been illegal aliens. As Ting writes, before DACA, the SSA had estimated that three out of every four illegal aliens possessed a Social Security number, which had either been stolen from an American citizen or legal resident or simply made up.

Although almost never reported on, when illegal aliens steal a Social Security number, the consequences can be very serious for the legitimate user. On top of receiving IRS letters and audits accusing them of having income they are not claiming or having their benefits blocked, reconciling a compromised identifier is estimated to cost thousands of dollars and take years of effort.

This doesn't matter to most illegal aliens, given the benefits involved, including the documentation they need to obtain work in the U.S., where wages, at least compared to Mexico, are 10 times higher.

The pervasiveness of this crime was, however, apparently lost on the Obama DHS. When DACA was first implemented, DHS did nothing to allay the uncertainty and fear among applicants about whether the discovery of identity fraud would trigger a denial or be used to prosecute them.

As Ting shows, after the DACA rollout, DHS jumped to correct the "mistake," rushing out a statement after the program's announcement assuring potential applicants they were "not interested in using [DACA] as a way to identify one-off cases where some individual may have violated some federal law in an employment relationship." Just as with their initial immigration violation, DACA aliens' Social Security number fraud was to be swept under the rug.

Giving DACA applicants the assurance they needed to apply was further aided by the SSA. Just eight days after DACA was implemented, its letter-mailing program was halted. With applicants' receiving letters from the SSA flagging them as possible identity thieves, they would likely be far less confident in approaching the government for DACA benefits.

Moreover, for the SSA's program to persist alongside DACA would have simply looked absurd. On the one hand, DACA aliens would be told they had been flagged for a serious criminal violation, while on the other, they were being called "dreamers" and told they needn't worry about the violations.

Further, as Ting found, the suspension of the SSA letters wasn't made public until late 2016, a full four years after the program was terminated. Publicly announcing the suspension just days after DACA went into effect no doubt would have created suspicion from an American public already skeptical of Obama's unprecedented amnesty push.

That Obama would go to such lengths to ensure the successful rollout of DACA is unsurprising, considering the dubious legal justifications of the program to begin with, along with other extreme nonenforcement measures taken throughout his tenure.

The direct harm inflicted on the American public, the details of which we hope will come to the surface as this story unfolds, perhaps puts it above other damaging aspects of Obama's immigration legacy.

Those dubious justifications included the "prioritization" of removals only for serious criminal aliens, plus the legal attacks on state and local governments that sought to cooperate with the federal government's immigration enforcement efforts.

But the direct harm inflicted on the American public, the details of which we hope will come to the surface as this story unfolds, perhaps puts it above other damaging aspects of Obama's immigration legacy.

For now, we at the Immigration Reform Law Institute are suing SSA and DHS, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for records concerning decisions made by the DACA program's architects. Congress, the relevant inspectors general, and the Department of Justice should to investigate the matter fully.

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Number of Illegal Aliens Granted California Driver’s Licenses Passes One Million

California newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee, reported that the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced on April 4 that more than one million “undocumented immigrants” — illegal aliens — have received driver’s licenses. Those who are in this country illegally have been allowed to receive driver’s licenses since 2015, when Assembly Bill 60, which required California DMV offices to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens as long as they can prove their identity and residence within the state, took effect. 

AB 60 was authored by former Assemblyman Luis Alejo. It was signed into law in October 2013 by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown. There are an estimated 2.5 million illegal aliens in California...

Alejo, in a statement quoted by the Times, praised the news that the number of licenses issued to illegals had passed the one-million mark. “It’s been successful for over a million families who can now drive to work, take their kids to school in the morning or go see the doctor without fear that their car is going to be impounded,” said Alejo, who is now a Monterey County supervisor. “Now their lives are better, and our roads and highways are safer for everyone.”

Alejo’s statement presumes that these illegal aliens have been breaking the law all along by driving without licenses, since if they had not been driving they would not have feared that their cars might be impounded. In fact, they would not even have cars.

However, since, illegal aliens, by entering our country illegally, are breaking the law simply by being in this country, it should not surprise anyone that they are breaking multiple other laws.

The law granting illegals licenses was an expensive one to implement and was expected to cost the state $141 million over a period of three years, according to the Orange County Register. During the year before it went into effect, the DMV hired 1,000 temporary employees and opened four additional processing centers...

We reported in our article in August 2015 that a then-current report released by the non-profit Pew Charitable Trust indicated that as of that year, 10 states and the District of Columbia had issued driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Nearly 37 percent of illegals live in a jurisdiction where they may now obtain a license. The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

The Pew report noted that since the documents, such as U.S. birth certificates or U.S. passports, typically accepted as proof of age and identity are not available to illegal aliens, states issuing licenses to illegals accept alternate forms of identification. Consular identification cards, issued to foreign nationals by the embassy or consulate of their country of origin, are a common substitute and are accepted by all 11 jurisdictions issuing licenses to illegal aliens.

Giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens can result in other negative consequence aside from reinforcing their decision to continue breaking our immigration laws. Driver’s licenses can actually make it easier for the aliens to register to vote, something they are not legally allowed to do, but may do anyway.

On April 1, a new law will go into effect in California that will automatically register people to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles, including aliens who are in the country illegally. 

Back on October 10, 2015, California Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1461, the New Motor Voter Act, which automatically registers people to vote when they apply for a new driver's license or new state ID through the DMV. Because this process lacks the safeguards present in traditional voter registration procedures, it could result in illegal aliens voting.

The day after the bill was signed, a reporter for the Washington Times noted that the under the new law, all Californians would automatically be registered to vote when they obtained or renewed their driver’s licenses at the DMV, instead of being required to fill out a separate form.

The Times report cited the anti-vote fraud groups True the Vote and the Election Integrity Project of California, which had urged Brown to veto the bill, saying it would lead to “‘state sanctioned’ voter fraud” and pointing out that the legislation exempts from penalties ineligible voters who wind up being registered.

“This bill is terrible. It makes an already bad situation much, much worse,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement.

During a discussion about California’s New Motor Voter Act on the October 13, 2015 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Judge Andrew Napolitano predicted, “The state is going to provide shelter for illegals to vote.”

A good bill went awry in the Legislature; consequences follow

You can trace the course of HB 4111 in the just-closed session of the Oregon Legislature and learn a lot about how political ball is being played there now to serve entrenched interests.

A perfectly good bill relating to Department of Transportation documents, which described “fees required when person is applying to replace or renew current driver license with Real ID compliant driver license or is applying for new original driver license that is Real ID compliant” was hi-jacked by means of an amendment and converted into yet another benefit — official driver licenses — for a group of illegal aliens.  This benefit can reverberate in future elections also unless voter registration processes are tightened.

The bill was Pre-Session filed, and originally sponsored by several Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Carl Wilson, of Grants Pass.  After the hi-jacking into a benefit for illegal aliens, Rep. Wilson removed his name from sponsorship and spoke against HB 4111.  As passed on March 3, HB 4111 was sponsored by these legislators, all Democrats:  Reps. Witt, Hernandez, Alonso Leon, Greenlick, Keny-Guyer, Salinas, Sanchez, Sollman, Williamson, and Senators Gelser and Manning. 

The maneuver to change the bill was accomplished through a Senate amendment referred to as Dash-10 in legislative lingo.  Then the bill incorporating “Dash-10” was put before the House for a final vote on Saturday afternoon, March 3, in the waning hours of the session

The claim is that “Dash-10” applies only to persons enrolled in the DACA and TPS programs, but those programs are not mentioned in the bill, and the bill contains other provisions that appear to weaken requirements for verification of applications.

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll watched the action:   “… they introduced the amendment as Dash -2, with Rep. Hernandez as the sponsor - and then pulled it – and then, re-introduced it as Dash-10 - with the Senate Transportation Committee as the sponsor, then pulled it again ‘for negotiations,’ then, submitted the bill to the Senate with the amendment ‘engrossed’ in the bill.  It seems at every turn, and with virtually NO notice, the effort was made to obscure the fact that forces were at work behind the scenes to ADD driver cards for illegal aliens to HB4111.  Several people told me they went to OLIS and saw no amendment - so, ultimately did not submit comments - or call in about it.  Would we call that a slight of hand?”

Originally, the bill was introduced in the House on February 5.  The House considered the bill and passed it, without changing the text.  Then it went to the Senate where advocates for benefits to illegal aliens succeeded through “Dash-10” in turning the bill into a tool to suit their purposes.  It passed the Senate by a vote of 20-8, with 2 members not voting.  All Democrats present voted Yes, along with 4 Republicans, Senators DeBoer, Hansell, Thompson, and Winters.

Because the Senate amendment had changed the bill, it had to go back to the House for a final vote, 36-22.  Again, all Democrats voted Yes.  One Republican voted Yes, Rep. Richard Vial, who represents Sherwood, Wilsonville and Gaston.  All other Republicans present voted No.

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll submitted testimony to the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation hearing on Feb. 26.  Her statement to the Committee can be read here.

OFIR Board member Mark Callahan gave oral testimony which can viewed in the Legislative video recording of Committee proceedings at: http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=24705.  He appears at about 6:35 in the video, speaking for approximately 2 minutes.  He entered into the Committee record a colorful chart  showing M88 vote results statewide; see it here

OFIR Board member Janice Dysinger submitted testimony also.  For some time, Ms. Dysinger, has been involved in research on the conduct of state elections and is active in Oregonians for Fair Elections, a citizen group working to protect the integrity of our state’s elections.  Her detailed statement to the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation on Feb. 26, raised many good questions about voter registration in Oregon and how it would be impacted by HB 4111.  See her statement here.

The only person who submitted testimony in favor of HB 4111 was Andrea Williams, Executive Director, Causa Oregon.   She wrote a letter that was entered into the record.

While Secretary of State Richardson recently gave Oregon’s voting system a clean bill of health, it’s clear that the registration processes can easily be corrupted and probably are, to an extent far beyond what the public is led to believe. There’s a high probability that HB 4111 would make the problem of illegal voting worse.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO GET OREGON ON THE RIGHT TRACK?

To OFIR members who feel discouraged after the passage of HB 4111 – remember – that is not the final move in immigration policy.  The route to change is open to us, in election of legislators who understand the importance of immigration controls and will put the interests of U.S. citizens first. 
 
Already through an informed and civic-minded citizenry, the U.S. has elected a President who believes in vigorous immigration law enforcement.  Other states are cooperating in the effort, and Oregon has shown broad support in the 2014 vote on Measure 88. 

Primary elections are coming up soon -- in May.  With members’ help, OFIR will provide information on the immigration positions of candidates, and members will have the opportunity to support good candidates and work to get them elected. The next session of the Legislature will convene in February 2019, after the November 2018 elections. 

You can view the candidate information that  OFIR posted on its website for the 2014 and 2016 elections here.  Many 2018 candidates for the Legislature and statewide offices have already replied to the 2018 Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Project questionnaire which includes questions on immigration policy.

Already candidates are speaking publicly and discussing issues; many have websites online.

In their candidacy websites, some candidates make their positions on immigration issues quite clear.  OFIR hopes to post all relevant information on its website for as many races as possible.   Three candidates for Governor who have good positions on immigration spoke at the February OFIR meeting. 

‘Please, God, Don’t Let Me Get Stopped’: Around Atlanta, No Sanctuary for Immigrants

CHAMBLEE, Ga. —

...Few places in the United States have simultaneously beckoned undocumented immigrants and penalized them for coming like metropolitan Atlanta, a boomtown of construction and service jobs where conservative politics and new national policies have turned every waking day into a gamble.

President Trump has declared anyone living in the country illegally a target for arrest and deportation, driving up the number of immigration arrests by more than 40 percent this year. While the Obama administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, it directed federal agents to focus on arresting serious criminals and recent arrivals. The current administration has erased those guidelines, allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest and deport anyone here illegally.

Freed of constraints, the regional ICE office in Atlanta made nearly 80 percent more arrests in the first half of this year than it did in the same period last year, the largest increase of any field office in the country.

It has had help. Local sheriffs and the police have been working with federal agents to identify and detain immigrants, a model of cooperation that the Trump administration is rapidly trying to expand throughout the country.

Every few hours, an unauthorized immigrant is booked into a county jail on charges as serious as assault and as minor as failing to signal a right turn. Then the jail alerts ICE — contrary to what happens in the so-called sanctuary cities repeatedly denounced by Mr. Trump, where local authorities refuse to turn immigrants over to the federal agency except in cases involving the gravest crimes.

Atlanta’s immigrants can do little but hide.... Word of the arrests flows through neighborhood phone trees, and Facebook has become an early-warning system for people desperate for clues about where ICE is operating...

As the Trump administration pushes the rest of the country toward tougher immigration enforcement, the Atlanta area offers a glimpse of what could be.

‘You Should Be Scared’

...David Martinez-Samano, who had a pair of felony convictions for domestic violence from 1996 and 1997, plus a rape charge that a plea bargain reduced to a lesser charge. He had served time in prison and had been deported to Mexico twice.

“So he’s a pretty bad guy,” one agent told the team, “and we want to get him off the streets.”

Mr. Martinez-Samano’s window glowed at 6:09 a.m....

Then his Honda Civic shivered to life. As he headed for a turn, the blue lights of the SUVs went blazing down the street.

Within two minutes of being pulled over, Mr. Martinez-Samano was handcuffed, patted down and stowed in a back seat. The quick turnaround, ICE officials said, minimized the chances that rubbernecks would post a video on Facebook, where, inevitably, it would be described as a checkpoint or a random traffic stop...

The agents were doing their jobs, he said in a brief interview. But, he said, he did not think he was worth ICE’s time. Having already gone to prison, he said, “I already paid.”...

Staying Out of Sight

ICE’s Atlanta office made 7,753 arrests across Georgia and the Carolinas from January through June, the most recent period for which data was available. That was more than any other field office except Dallas’s, and an increase of nearly 80 percent over the same period last year.

“If you’re in this country illegally, you should be scared,” said Sean Gallagher, the Atlanta field office director....

ICE officials say that agents do not randomly arrest people, instead targeting immigrants such as Mr. Martinez-Samano. But rumor often outpaces fact. In the suburban neighborhoods where hundreds of thousands of immigrants have made precarious camp, dread of a knock from ICE informs every decision...

But information about ICE’s movements, however thin, is worth a thousand candles.

Every morning, Rolando Zeron, a former civil engineer in Honduras who now fixes floors, maps his way to work after checking the Facebook page of Mario Guevara, a reporter for the newspaper Mundo Hispánico who updates his feed about ICE activity throughout the day.

“If Mario says, ‘Hey, I see guys on Buford Highway,’ I move,” said Mr. Zeron, 44. “Mario’s like family. I’ve never met him — just online. That’s my dream, to meet him. I want to buy him a beer.”

Mr. Guevara, who has 250,000 Facebook followers and counting, is usually in his car by 4:30 a.m., gulping coffee and chasing tips from suburb to suburb.

Asked whether he had any reservations about helping readers evade immigration law, he said he preferred to think he was helping people with no criminal records stay in the country. “Honestly, I believe it’s an honor as a journalist if the people can use your information for protecting their own families,” he said.

As he approached a Chamblee Heights apartment one afternoon, three little girls spotted him. “Mario!” they shouted. “Mario!”

They were the daughters of another devoted reader, Paola, 37. Even as she and her husband discussed moving to a more immigrant-friendly state, she was preparing her children’s passports and laboring to improve their Spanish.

“Someday we’ll be back in Guatemala or Honduras,” she told them, “and no one speaks English there.”

In Georgia, after all, it is risky even to drive.

From Traffic Stop to Ticket Out

Thousands of undocumented immigrants since 2012 have been arrested and handed over to ICE in Georgia after routine traffic stops revealed that they were driving without a license.

State legislators have empowered local police officers to question suspects about their immigration status, a job normally reserved for federal agents, and three county jails near Atlanta participate in a program, known as 287(g), that allows sheriff’s deputies to identify undocumented immigrants and hand them over to ICE. The Trump administration has signed dozens of new 287(g) agreements with jails around the country.

“It’s huge for us,” said Mr. Gallagher of ICE, calling the program “a force multiplier.”

Gabriela Martinez, 28, a single mother of three who illegally crossed the border from Mexico in 2005, was moving the last of her family’s belongings to the new house she had just rented in Norcross when her Ford Expedition was pulled over for a broken brake light in April.

She knew the risks. The father of her 5-, 7- and 10-year-old daughters, was deported after being pulled over in 2012. Ever since, she had taught the girls to be extra diligent about wearing seatbelts. Once Mr. Trump took office, she rode with friends and took Ubers as often as possible.

But she said she had no choice but to drive to her daughters’ school, to the doctor or to the houses she cleans. As rapidly as the Atlanta area has grown, public transit is practically absent outside Atlanta itself.

“Every time I pull out of here, I think, ‘Please, God, please, God, don’t let me get stopped,’” she said.

She was held for four days at the Gwinnett County jail — where a sign outside announces “This is a 287(g) facility” — before being transferred to an immigration detention center. The friend who had been watching her children when she was arrested told them their mother was traveling for work, but Ms. Martinez called to tell her 10-year-old daughter, Evelyn, the truth.

“If I don’t come home,” she told her, “you’re in charge.”

Evelyn began to wail, sobbing so hard that she dropped the phone. Ms. Martinez could only listen.

She was released with an ankle monitor after telling ICE agents about her American-born children. But she still faces possible deportation.

An analysis of one month of Gwinnett County jail records from this summer shows that 184 of the 2,726 people booked and charged at the jail were held for immigration authorities. Almost two-thirds of those detained for ICE had been charged with a traffic infraction such as failing to stay in their lane, speeding or driving without a license. Others were booked on charges including assault, child molestation and drug possession.

Advocates for immigrants have accused officers in 287(g) counties of targeting Hispanic drivers, a claim local police have denied.

“Local law enforcement is just chasing Latinos all over the place for tiny traffic infractions,” said Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.

But to Butch Conway, the longtime sheriff of Gwinnett County, there is no reason his deputies should not turn in immigrants caught driving without a license. They are, after all, doubly breaking the law.

“I find it offensive that they just thumb their nose at our laws and operate vehicles they are not licensed to operate,” Mr. Conway said in a 2010 interview, “on top of the fact that they are here illegally.” (Through a spokeswoman, he declined to comment for this article.)

In nearby Cobb County, Maria Hernandez, a school janitor from Mexico, was arrested while driving home from work one night in May. An officer conducting a random license tag check, a common practice in some police departments, had determined through a state database that the tag had been suspended because the car lacked insurance. After pulling over Ms. Hernandez, the officer then discovered she had no driver’s license.

Her boss tried to bail her out of the Cobb County jail, but was told that the money would go to waste: She was headed to immigration detention, where she would spend three days trying to explain that she was a single mother with a sick child. Estefania, her 13-year-old daughter, was being treated for depression after a suicide attempt.

Ms. Hernandez was released, given an ankle monitor and told to report back with a plane ticket. (A lawyer has helped delay the deportation.)

Her car, in fact, was insured; the officer had called in the wrong license tag, according to a Cobb County Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Dana Pierce.

Sergeant Pierce said it made no difference, given Ms. Hernandez’s lack of a driver’s license. Generally, “there is no singling out of any race, creed, color, religion or anything else,” the sergeant said.

But by the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late. Ms. Hernandez was already being booked into the county jail.

It's not too soon! Take advantage of your Oregon Political Tax Credit

Alert date: 
2017-10-02
Alert body: 

This year, don't forget to take advantage of your Oregon Political Tax Credit!

You have a choice: Give your money to the State of Oregon to work against you OR give your money to OFIR PAC to work FOR you!

Learn more about how to give to the OFIR PAC.


 

Once celebrated, special driver's licenses stir anxiety among immigrants in California

AUBURN, Calif. -- Leticia Aceves remembers the fear of her first drive alone.

... in the country illegally with no driver's license, and little grasp of English or California's traffic laws...

"I was shaking all the way from my house... Aceves said.

Two years ago, driving got less stressful for Aceves and 850,000 other Californians who received driver's licenses under a state law meant to help immigrants living in the country illegally become more integrated into society.

Over the past decade, California has taken several steps to bring immigrants without legal status into the mainstream, including health care for the young and financial aid for college students.

....Being able to drive without fear of arrest has given immigrants access to more jobs and made them more confident drivers, they say....

But President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration has made those license holders anxious...

The issue facing undocumented immigrants in California isn't at play in Oregon. Since 2008, Oregon has required applicants for driver's licenses or permits to provide proof of citizenship.

In California, the decision to give driver's licenses to immigrants here illegally was hotly debated, and it took more than a decade to get the law passed. Critics continue to argue that it has legitimized illegal immigration....

The licenses are designed for people who cannot show proof of legal-resident status in the United States...

Still, the licenses have changed the lives of tens of thousands of people in California. Manuel Mesa remembers well the anxiety that came with driving illegally....

...When Mesa got a driver's license in 2015, he became more inclined to challenge police if he felt his rights were being violated. He also said learning traffic laws in preparation for the exam made him more confident behind the wheel...

More important, the license helped him get a better job. Mesa applied for a commercial driver's license and now works as a big-rig driver, hauling wood, computers, foods and other products.

Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman, said that although the department makes "databases available to law-enforcement entities," that information would not include the legal status of license holders. She said state laws forbid police from discriminating based on a person showing an AB-60 license.

ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said investigators could use information from the DMV in the course of criminal investigations, but that "ICE does not use data from the DMV to identify immigration enforcement targets."

This month, though, the American Civil Liberties Union released documents that it contends show that Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicles coordinated with ICE last year. The record included emails between ICE and the Vermont DMV in which immigration agents asked that the legal status of certain drivers be checked, said James Lyall, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont.

Vermont is one of 12 states and the District of Columbia where unauthorized immigrants can obtain driver's licenses.

The Trust Act in California offers a measure of protection, said Daniel Sharp, the legal director at the Central American Resource Center, a community organization that helps immigrants get licenses, among other programs. That law makes it harder for state and local law enforcement officials to hold immigrants who have committed minor crimes for pickup by ICE agents.

In this climate of fear, Sharp said, it's unlikely that immigrants who have waited this long will apply for a license.

Proponents of California's law argue that licensing immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally has made roads safer...

A recent study by Stanford researchers showed that hit-and-run cases were increasing more slowly because licensed drivers are less likely to flee the scene of a crime.

But critics such as Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation say issuing the licenses to such immigrants legitimizes their presence in the country and makes it easier for them to stay. Even though the license looks different and has specific limitations, von Spakovsky said, it "makes it easier for them to use this government-issued ID for many illegal purposes, such as applying for government benefits or registering to vote."

Oregon’s Quest for Secure Driver’s Licenses

For over a decade, we’ve been engaged in a battle for a secure driver’s license in Oregon. Much of the drama has been self-inflicted and it’s about time we get with the program and move on.

It started in 2005 when Congress passed, and President Bush signed the Real ID act, which calls for a more secure driver’s license. We don’t have a national ID card, so state-issued driver’s licenses are accepted by the federal government as identification when boarding a plane or entering a federal building.

States have different standards, and so Congress, in response to the 9/11 Commission, set uniform, secure, standards for states to apply. Driven by costs and other considerations, states are in various levels of compliance. For years, Homeland Security has been granting waivers to states, including Oregon, if they make progress. Now, the gig is up.

In 2007, Governor Kulongoski issued an executive order mandating comprehensive and meaningful identification to be issued a driver’s license, which brought Oregon many steps closer to compliance. This is why you have to practically bring your file cabinet down to the DMV to renew your driver’s license.

The main shortfall from full compliance with Real ID is that the DMV does not permanently retain an image of the documentation you provide. In eight years, when you have to renew again, you’ll have to bring the file cabinet back down to the DMV. Indeed, in 2009, the Legislature passed a law which forbids ODOT from expending any resources to comply with the Real ID act.

As the Kulongoski executive order made it harder for persons not legally in the country to get drivers licenses, a solution was sought in creating a “driver card” for those who could not prove legal status in the US. It passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber in a front porch ceremony on May 1, 2013. Since it did not have an emergency clause, it could be challenged by a citizens’ referendum, and it was. In an embarrassment to the legislative establishment, enough signatures were gathered (many by me) and it was put to the people in the form of Measure 88 in 2014. It was repealed by a 2:1 margin and a majority in 35 of Oregon’s 36 counties.

So, as our waiver runs out, I and Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) have separately introduced bills in the House and the Senate to repeal the prohibition on ODOT and allow the agency to comply with Real ID. This makes even more sense in light of the fact that the DMV has embarked on a $90 million software upgrade, and this could easily be included. Another bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena) creates a new, “Star ID” which complies with Real ID but leaves in place the current driver’s license as a less secure – and I think open to fraud — option.

Let’s not mess this up. Let’s have one Oregon Driver’s License, compliant with Real ID, and quit making me take my file cabinet down to the DMV each time I have to renew.

State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is on the board of directors of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and wants to make boarding a plane easier and more secure.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - driver's license