driver's license

Lax Immigration Policies May Have Shielded Killer of California Deputies

The man accused in Friday's horrific killing and carjacking spree near Sacramento, Calif., which resulted in the deaths of two sheriff's deputies and the wounding of two others, is a citizen of Mexico who was deported twice previously, but who apparently has been living in the United States for more than a decade.

Thanks to fingerprint sharing made possible by ICE's Secure Communities program (which DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has indicated he wants to scale back), authorities were able to quickly determine that the man arrested had given them an alias. ICE has issued a statement saying that the accused is Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte, and that he was deported in 1997 after a conviction in Arizona for possession of narcotics for sale, and again in 2001.

Unfortunately, the Secure Communities identification system seems to be the only part of our immigration system that has worked properly against this violent criminal.

According to news accounts, after he illegally re-entered the country after deportation, Monroy-Bracamonte lived and worked for years in Arizona, where he married Janelle Marquez Monroy-Bracamonte, reported to be a U.S. citizen. At some point they moved to the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, which is notably more hospitable to illegal residents. While working as a house painter and lawn mower there, Monroy-Bracamonte apparently racked up more than 10 misdemeanor traffic offenses and citations between 2003 and 2009 under an alias. In addition, he reportedly had a record of one traffic ticket and three small claims court filings for debt in his real name, also in Utah.

Had these offenses occurred in Arizona or other places where local law enforcement agencies are encouraged (and required in Arizona since 2012) to look into the identity and immigration status of lawbreakers, Monroy-Bracamonte might have come to the attention of local police and ICE a long time ago. But Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has said such policies are "ridiculous" and "you actually increase crime when you enforce these kinds of laws." Who looks ridiculous now? Chief Burbank also has been active with a (very small) group of police chiefs lobbying against immigration enforcement and for amnesty.

Monroy-Bracamonte appears not to be your average illegal worker off on a weekend road trip with his wife. They were quite well armed for their trip to Sacramento, packing an AR-15 assault rifle and at least two pistols. Monroy-Bracamonte killed Sacramento County deputy Danny Oliver by shooting him in the forehead as he approached their car, which was parked in the lot of a Motel 6 that is notorious for criminal activity, and where they were registered as guests. They led officers on a six-hour chase, during which Monroy-Bracamonte killed detective Michael David Davis, Jr., and wounded two others before officers used tear gas to smoke him out of hiding in a house in Auburn, Calif.

Photographs reported to be of Monroy-Bracamonte suggest that he is a member of the criminal gang known as Mexican Pride and associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Mexican Pride has been on ICE's radar screen for some time. Dozens of Mexican Pride members and associates have been arrested by ICE agents over the years, and the agency's arrest records show concentrations in Arizona, southeast Washington state, Colorado, and the Washington DC/Northern Virginia metro area. Mexican Pride members often have violent criminal histories, including assault, weapons offenses, drug dealing, burglary, robbery, and more. Federal gang intelligence reports say Mexican Pride is also involved in prostitution and human trafficking. The gang's membership includes Central Americans as well as Mexicans and U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, ICE leadership under the Obama administration has pulled back on ICE's highly effective anti-gang programs in the last few years, and American communities – and families – are now paying the price.

ICE's National Gang Unit records show that 20 percent fewer gang arrests were made in 2013 than in 2012. And more and more of the ICE gang arrests have been occurring overseas rather than within the United States.

Whereas ICE agents once could work closely with local law enforcement agencies to target deportable gang members pro-actively with surge and street operations, now policies from ICE headquarters dictate that gang members are off-limits for enforcement until they are convicted of a serious crime. The result is that foreign gang members now can more easily avoid arrest, have little fear of immigration enforcement, are more likely to obtain benefits or relief from removal, are much less likely to face deportation, and are more likely to return after deportation. Liberal ICE detention policies have led to the release of gang members arrested by ICE investigators, which can enable them to escape prosecution. ICE agents also face limitations that are stricter than most other federal and local investigators on how they may use social media; such tools might well have enabled ICE to target Monroy-Bracamonte earlier.

So far ICE has been tight-lipped with information on Luis and Janelle Monroy-Bracamonte, referring questions to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. The following questions remain to be answered:

1 - Has Luis Monroy-Bracamonte had other encounters with immigration authorities since his removal in 2001?

2 - What are the circumstances of his 2001 removal? Did it follow another arrest, and which agency made that arrest?

3 - Did Janelle Marquez Monroy-Bracamonte (or anyone else) seek to sponsor Luis for a green card? Has he received any immigration benefit or exercise of prosecutorial discretion?

4 - Law enforcement agencies should be asked to disclose Monroy-Bracamonte's entire criminal history and record of civil infractions and charges.

5 - Does Janelle Monroy-Bracamonte have a criminal history?

6 - What identification documents did Monroy-Bracamonte provide to the officers who arrested him? Did they include a legally issued driver's license that he obtained in Utah or another state? Or did he use fraudulent documents?

7 - Did any Utah law enforcement officers ever inquire or investigate his identity or immigration status? If so, was he referred to ICE?

The answers to these questions may guide lawmakers and local law enforcement agencies to adopt, or reinstate, more effective enforcement practices that prioritize public safety over protecting criminal aliens. Read more about Lax Immigration Policies May Have Shielded Killer of California Deputies

Lax Immigration Policies May Have Shielded Killer of California Deputies

The man accused in Friday's horrific killing and carjacking spree near Sacramento, Calif., which resulted in the deaths of two sheriff's deputies and the wounding of two others, is a citizen of Mexico who was deported twice previously, but who apparently has been living in the United States for more than a decade.

Thanks to fingerprint sharing made possible by ICE's Secure Communities program (which DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has indicated he wants to scale back), authorities were able to quickly determine that the man arrested had given them an alias. ICE has issued a statement saying that the accused is Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte, and that he was deported in 1997 after a conviction in Arizona for possession of narcotics for sale, and again in 2001.

Unfortunately, the Secure Communities identification system seems to be the only part of our immigration system that has worked properly against this violent criminal.

According to news accounts, after he illegally re-entered the country after deportation, Monroy-Bracamonte lived and worked for years in Arizona, where he married Janelle Marquez Monroy-Bracamonte, reported to be a U.S. citizen. At some point they moved to the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, which is notably more hospitable to illegal residents. While working as a house painter and lawn mower there, Monroy-Bracamonte apparently racked up more than 10 misdemeanor traffic offenses and citations between 2003 and 2009 under an alias. In addition, he reportedly had a record of one traffic ticket and three small claims court filings for debt in his real name, also in Utah.

Had these offenses occurred in Arizona or other places where local law enforcement agencies are encouraged (and required in Arizona since 2012) to look into the identity and immigration status of lawbreakers, Monroy-Bracamonte might have come to the attention of local police and ICE a long time ago. But Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has said such policies are "ridiculous" and "you actually increase crime when you enforce these kinds of laws." Who looks ridiculous now? Chief Burbank also has been active with a (very small) group of police chiefs lobbying against immigration enforcement and for amnesty.

Monroy-Bracamonte appears not to be your average illegal worker off on a weekend road trip with his wife. They were quite well armed for their trip to Sacramento, packing an AR-15 assault rifle and at least two pistols. Monroy-Bracamonte killed Sacramento County deputy Danny Oliver by shooting him in the forehead as he approached their car, which was parked in the lot of a Motel 6 that is notorious for criminal activity, and where they were registered as guests. They led officers on a six-hour chase, during which Monroy-Bracamonte killed detective Michael David Davis, Jr., and wounded two others before officers used tear gas to smoke him out of hiding in a house in Auburn, Calif.

Photographs reported to be of Monroy-Bracamonte suggest that he is a member of the criminal gang known as Mexican Pride and associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Mexican Pride has been on ICE's radar screen for some time. Dozens of Mexican Pride members and associates have been arrested by ICE agents over the years, and the agency's arrest records show concentrations in Arizona, southeast Washington state, Colorado, and the Washington DC/Northern Virginia metro area. Mexican Pride members often have violent criminal histories, including assault, weapons offenses, drug dealing, burglary, robbery, and more. Federal gang intelligence reports say Mexican Pride is also involved in prostitution and human trafficking. The gang's membership includes Central Americans as well as Mexicans and U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, ICE leadership under the Obama administration has pulled back on ICE's highly effective anti-gang programs in the last few years, and American communities – and families – are now paying the price.

ICE's National Gang Unit records show that 20 percent fewer gang arrests were made in 2013 than in 2012. And more and more of the ICE gang arrests have been occurring overseas rather than within the United States.

Whereas ICE agents once could work closely with local law enforcement agencies to target deportable gang members pro-actively with surge and street operations, now policies from ICE headquarters dictate that gang members are off-limits for enforcement until they are convicted of a serious crime. The result is that foreign gang members now can more easily avoid arrest, have little fear of immigration enforcement, are more likely to obtain benefits or relief from removal, are much less likely to face deportation, and are more likely to return after deportation. Liberal ICE detention policies have led to the release of gang members arrested by ICE investigators, which can enable them to escape prosecution. ICE agents also face limitations that are stricter than most other federal and local investigators on how they may use social media; such tools might well have enabled ICE to target Monroy-Bracamonte earlier.

So far ICE has been tight-lipped with information on Luis and Janelle Monroy-Bracamonte, referring questions to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. The following questions remain to be answered:

1 - Has Luis Monroy-Bracamonte had other encounters with immigration authorities since his removal in 2001?

2 - What are the circumstances of his 2001 removal? Did it follow another arrest, and which agency made that arrest?

3 - Did Janelle Marquez Monroy-Bracamonte (or anyone else) seek to sponsor Luis for a green card? Has he received any immigration benefit or exercise of prosecutorial discretion?

4 - Law enforcement agencies should be asked to disclose Monroy-Bracamonte's entire criminal history and record of civil infractions and charges.

5 - Does Janelle Monroy-Bracamonte have a criminal history?

6 - What identification documents did Monroy-Bracamonte provide to the officers who arrested him? Did they include a legally issued driver's license that he obtained in Utah or another state? Or did he use fraudulent documents?

7 - Did any Utah law enforcement officers ever inquire or investigate his identity or immigration status? If so, was he referred to ICE?

The answers to these questions may guide lawmakers and local law enforcement agencies to adopt, or reinstate, more effective enforcement practices that prioritize public safety over protecting criminal aliens. Read more about Lax Immigration Policies May Have Shielded Killer of California Deputies

Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants an issue in three states

In Colorado, Oregon, and California, the granting of driver's licenses to illegal aliens has generated controversy and raised national security concerns that have gone largely unreported.

Colorado: Over two months ago, an ID company, MorphoTrust, erroneously issued 524 standard Colorado driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Under federal law, driver's licenses issued to illegal aliens are required to have a marking that indicates they are not to be used for federal purposes, but these did not. MorphoTrust — which produces IDs for 42 states — has been trying to get the licenses back by offering $100 gift cards to those who return them. I was able to confirm through a Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) official that 189 licenses had remained unaccounted for, but the latest update is that 43 licenses are outstanding.

The federal REAL ID Act — which put a number of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission into effect — standardizes state driver's licenses and seeks to prevent illegal aliens from boarding airplanes, entering government buildings or accessing nuclear power plants. But illegal immigration advocates have pushed some states to offer special driver's licenses just for illegal aliens that are not REAL ID compliant. The movement is part of the effort to blur the distinction between law-abiding residents and foreigners who believe they are above the law.

The Colorado DMV tells me that they have gone door to door as part of the retrieval effort, which is commendable, but the question of what happens if all cards cannot be located looms large. Some have argued the error might allow the recipients to register to vote and/or get additional licenses in other states. If people wishing to do harm to Americans have any of these licenses, they are not going to give them up willingly.

Oregon: After Oregon legislators moved forward with a plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens, a group opposed to the proposal gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a public vote. Polling suggests that nearly two-thirds of Oregon voters oppose the plan. This, despite the fact that supporters have spent over 11 times as much money as opponents.

A big controversy erupted when the fact-checking group PolitiFact decided to look into claims made by radio host Lars Larson that the proposed licenses would allow illegal aliens to board airplanes. PolitiFact determined that Larson is correct after speaking with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official. The problem is that language on the ballot actually states that Measure 88 would not allow illegal aliens to board planes. This language was written by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has not posted an explanation or apology on its website (and it remains unclear whether the error was by accident or by design).

The TSA official has not explained exactly why the licenses would allow illegal aliens to board planes, but a couple of factors are likely at play. First, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly given compliance deadline extensions to at least 21 states and territories, extensions that were supposed to have expired on Oct. 10, 2014. But states can reapply for the extensions (Massachusetts, Kentucky and Montana recently received extensions). Oregon also had an extension, but it is unclear whether the state has received yet another one. Second, DHS has dragged its feet on enforcing the REAL ID Act and under their current plans, noncompliant IDs will prevent people from boarding airplanes "no sooner than 2016."

The REAL ID Act law was enacted in 2005 and supposed to take effect in 2008.

It should also be noted that the proposed measure would instruct the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division to accept foreign consular IDs as proof of an illegal alien's identity. These consular IDs are completely unverifiable by U.S. officials and have been considered a national security threat by the FBI.

California: One open-border group helped create driver's licenses so dangerous to national security that DHS stopped their design from going forward. The REAL ID Act allows states some freedom in how they differentiate between a regular driver's license and ones reserved for illegal immigrants that are not valid for federal purposes. Advocates of illegal immigration have been demanding that states make the licenses given to illegal aliens look almost identical to the licenses given to legal residents, even though it makes a security officer's job more difficult.

California's plan was to make the driver's license for illegal aliens look identical, save for one tiny difference: the small, 6-point-font text on the card that reads "DL" (meaning "Driver’s License") would simply be switched to read "DP" (meaning "Driving Privilege"). The difference is nearly imperceptible as my mock-up illustrates. That California would conclude the interests of illegal aliens are so important that it's worth increasing the chances the TSA would miss the denotation is troubling. All four passenger jets involved in the 9/11 attack were bound for California and many Californians lost their lives that day.

Just recently, DHS approved a more distinctive version of the driver's license that reportedly will have the words "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" written on the front. Some states orient the IDs vertically, which really helps to differentiate from regular licenses. Pro-illegal immigration groups oppose these measures because they fear illegal aliens will be treated differently than those who are here legally. Of course, illegal aliens are supposed to be treated differently — they're to be deported in accordance with federal law.

Unfortunately, many activist groups and politicians have concluded that helping illegal aliens hide their lawlessness is more important than preventing another 9/11. Congress should consider tightening up the REAL ID standards. If problems like this continue, it wouldn't be surprising if voters in many states initiated referenda or legislation aimed at stopping the issuance of driver's licenses to people in the country illegally.

Feere is the legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies.

  Read more about Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants an issue in three states

Measure 88: A road divided

DEVER-CONNER — Norteno music blared on a radio as Hispanic workers packaged butternut squash headed for markets in Portland and Seattle.

Farm owner Bill Case watched over the activity in his warehouse and talked about the upcoming election. (

(NOTE: It is against Federal law to hire people that are in the country illegally - there is an adequate supply of AG Visa's available if a farmer needs labor)

Measure 88, on the Nov. 4 ballot, would grant driving privileges to Oregonians without requiring proof of their legal presence in the United States.

Proponents of Measure 88 say it would result in safer conditions on the road, as illegal aliens would be trained to drive and get insurance.

Case is all in favor of it, in part because 87 of his 90 farm workers are Latino.

“It’s a no-brainer. It’s safer. Why force them to drive illegally? Force them to learn how to drive,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, the Pew Hispanic center estimates there are about 160,000 unauthorized immigrants living in Oregon, or 4.3 percent of the total population and one-third of Latinos in the state.

Thousands of immigrants work in nurseries, orchards and farms, so those industries, quite understandably, have been supportive of Measure 88.

“The people that need driver’s cards, they are working every day,” Case said.

Local white people don’t want to work in agriculture, he said.

“But the ones out of (Mexico), they work their butts off,” he added.

Case, a longtime sports coach for Jefferson schools, also said he’d have to take students home from activities because their parents couldn’t drive, or didn’t want to risk it.

“They’d ask you for a ride home, or they’d try and get a ride home with somebody else,” Case said.

Other supporters of the measure worried that if it failed, local Hispanics could move to neighboring states where undocumented workers can get driving privileges, thereby making it even harder for farms to find labor.

“They can go to Washington or California to get a license,” Case said.

Emily Jameson, spokeswoman for the Yes on 88 campaign, said that Oregon would be the 11th state to implement some sort of driver’s card or license.

During an Albany rally in favor of Measure 88 on Oct. 7, she said the matter has strong bipartisan support.

“We have people that need to get to and from work. They need to get to and from school,” said Javier Cervantes, director of equity, diversity and inclusion for Linn-Benton Community College, during the rally.

Area Hispanics said plenty of undocumented residents already are driving in Oregon. And many of them had driver’s licenses before 2008, when Oregon passed legislation requiring proof of legal presence.

Twenty-eight of Oregon’s 36 sheriffs, however, including Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley, are adamantly against Measure 88. Former Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller also is in opposition.

“I don’t think it does anything to protect or enhance the safety of our county, or the nation for that matter,” Riley said.

He said that it would encourage criminal activity, potentially aiding drug runners, and could help terrorists trying to infiltrate the United States from Mexico.

“We’ve got people that want to come into our country to do us harm. It would make their job easier to be able to traverse our roads and highways. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Riley said.

He added that it’s still a federal crime for someone to enter the United States illegally.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the folks who have gained citizenship, or who have gained their driver’s license the right way,” Riley said.

David Olen Cross, a Salem resident who writes about immigration issues and a staunch opponent of Measure 88, said the measure won’t result in more insured drivers.

“These people come with no driving history, so insurance rates are going to be high,” he said.

He added that people don’t necessarily need to have insurance to pass a driving test in Oregon — only the car they are operating needs to have insurance.

“They could be driving their friend’s car,” he said.

The measure also would make it easier for criminals to forge identities, he said.

Cervantes said that people can get detained by authorities until they prove who they are, and many undocumented residents lack any identification.

“A lot of the students who I work with have unfortunately been afraid to go anywhere without some form of ID,” he said.

He added that families get sent into chaos if a parent gets detained for lacking identification.

“These undocumented community members are parents of U.S. citizens. So what are we setting up for their future?” asked Tina Dodge Vera, a family and community health faculty member for the Oregon State University Extension Service.

According to the Associated Press, if Measure 88 passes, driver’s cards could be used for domestic air travel, per federal rules.

But people don’t necessarily need a state-issued identification to board a plane, and can do so by showing a foreign passport.

Driver’s cards wouldn’t be able to be used to vote, however, or get government benefits.

Albany’s Latino population has surged since 2000, when 2,500 people, or roughly 6 percent of the city’s population, were Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By 2010, that demographic more than doubled to 5,700 people, or about 11.4 percent of Albany’s population.

Latinos represented about 8 percent of Linn County’s estimated 2013 population, or nearly 10,000 people, according to the Census Bureau.

Read more about Measure 88: A road divided

Driver’s card puts cart before horse

Oregon's Measure 88 ballot initiative would grant legal driving privileges to people who can't prove legal residence in the United States.

Oregon Measure 88 on the November ballot would grant a driving card to people meeting certain standards but who are unable to prove legal residency in the United States.

We can appreciate the arguments supporters make for the measure, and don’t find them to be completely without merit. However, we can’t get past a strong feeling that it would be a mistake.

Not all that long ago, legal residents and illegal immigrants were able to qualify for Oregon licenses by meeting less stringent standards to prove their identity.

In the wake of 9/11, Oregon joined many states that bolstered the security of driver’s licenses and other state identification cards that could be used to board airplanes and to conduct other business that requires positive identification. Drivers applying for a license must produce proof of legal residency in the United States — a passport, a green card or a birth certificate.

As the licenses issued under the more lax requirements began to expire, immigrant advocates started pushing for an alternative to provide legal driving privileges. Last year the Legislature passed a law creating the driver’s card, but a grassroots petition drive forced the issue onto the ballot.

Ag interests, labor unions, business groups and immigration advocates supported the law, and support passage of the ballot initiative.

Supporters say issuing the cards will make Oregon roads safer. Card holders have to pass the same tests as licensed drivers. They say card holders would be more likely to obtain insurance.

More importantly, the cards would allow illegal immigrants to legally drive to their jobs — jobs that they cannot legally hold.

Nurserymen, fruit producers and food processors depend on immigrant labor. It’s generally accepted that 70 to 80 percent of that workforce is in the country illegally, and who can’t get an Oregon driver’s license.

While it’s against federal law to hire workers who are not legal residents, workers who are hired present documents farm employers assume are legitimate. All of this is on a wink and nod because there is no requirement agriculture employers participate in the federal E-Verify program that would weed out applicants with phony or appropriated documents.

The driver’s card would make this charade harder to pull off. Anyone with legitimate documentation to work would, by definition, have legitimate documentation to get an Oregon driver’s license.

Supporters are quick to point out that immigration is the purview of the federal government. The state’s interest is only in ensuring the roads are safe. But the driver’s card makes the state an active participant in a conspiracy to violate federal law.

We have long supported federal immigration reform, and a pathway to legal residency for those immigrants meeting stringent requirements. Count us among those who think Congress has dawdled for its part.

But federal reform is the first step in the normalization of the status of illegal immigrants, not an after thought. This measure puts the cart before the horse. Read more about Driver’s card puts cart before horse

Oregon Voters Oppose Driver's Licenses for Illegals

According to a recent survey, voters in Oregon appear poised to roll back legislation that would have given the state's illegal immigrants the opportunity to obtain "driver cards" (a form driver's license permitted by federal law but not acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane). Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D), signed the bill into law in May 2013, but a group called Oregonians for Immigration Reform of McMinnville (a town in the heart of the Willamette Valley wine country) gathered more than 70,000 signatures in just a few months to freeze the law pending a referendum to be held on Election Day this year.

The survey, conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting, revealed that Oregon voters disapprove of Ballot Measure 88, which would permit Oregon DMVs to issue driver's licenses to residents with no proof of legal residence, by nearly 2-1. (60 percent against; 31 percent in favor)

The poll is noteworthy for a few reasons. Oregon is a blue state. President Obama carried it by 12 points in 2012. The bill sailed through the Oregon legislature last year with bipartisan support — the vote was 47-7 in the House and 20-7 in the Senate. And many nearby states — California, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico — already grant some form of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who qualify for them. But Oregonians, concerned that the measure would attract more illegal immigrants to the state, have said "not so fast". (Oregon has approximately 160,000 to 170,000 illegal immigrants, or about 4 percent of the state's total population.)

The Register Guard, a daily newspaper in Eugene, ran a lengthy story about the campaign on Saturday, along with a chart detailing spending to date. While neither side is particularly well funded, it's interesting to note that the "yes" camp (those who favor the driver's licences) has outraised and outspent the naysayers by more than 10-1. (The "yes" side raised $421,000 and has spent $273,000; the "no" side raised just $37,000 and has spent $26,000.) Nearly all of the top donors for the "yes" campaign are labor unions.

The disconnect between what politicians and labor unions apparently want and what the public thinks is a good idea is startling, and it shows how out of step elected leaders and union officials are with their constituents. Voters are deeply skeptical of measures providing any sort of benefits to illegal immigrants for good reason. In the United States, where a huge majority of citizens do not own a passport, a driver's license provides de-facto legitimacy and enables migrants to, as NumbersUSA neatly summarized, "rent apartments and cars, open bank accounts, cash checks, enter secure buildings, buy guns, and board commercial aircraft, among other things."

It also sends a mixed signal to illegal immigrants, many of whom aren't fluent English speakers and don't understand all of the nuances of our political system. If the state takes their photo and hands them an official looking card, that gives them a feeling of legitimacy and no doubt confirms their impression that the United States isn't serious about enforcing immigration law.

Oregon allowed applicants to obtain driver's licenses without proof of legal status prior to changing the law in 2008. So why change it back again now? I've read all the arguments for and against Ballot Measure 88, and I've yet to see anyone demonstrate that changing the law to deny illegal immigrants driver's licenses in 2008 has had any detrimental effect on public safety.

In fact, if you look at Oregon's annual "Traffic Crash Summaries", put out by the Oregon Department of Transportation, it appears as though traffic fatalities have declined since 2008. From 2003 to 2007, traffic deaths ranged from 455-512; whereas from 2008 to 2012, the figures ranged from 317 to 416. And this is during a time when the state's population increased substantially.

The truth is that there is no effective way to make sure that illegal immigrants maintain auto insurance, which is costly and generally a low priority for people who are barely scraping by. Oregon voters have an opportunity to send a resounding message, not just to their own politicians, but also to elected representatives all over the country.

  Read more about Oregon Voters Oppose Driver's Licenses for Illegals

Poll: Nearly Two Thirds of Oregon Voters 'Likely' to Reject Driver's Licenses for Illegals

Voters in Oregon are set to strongly reject a measure that would allow illegal immigrants to receive driver's licenses.

According to an October 8-11 poll conducted by Oregon Public Broadcasting, 61% of likely voters were opposed to Measure 88. 53% said they were "certain" to oppose the measure while another 8% said they were opposed to it but "may change mind." 26% of Oregon voters said they supported giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants while 5% said they supported the measure but "may change mind."

As the Register-Guard noted, Measure 88 would require illegal immigrants to "pass the state’s written driver knowledge test and behind-the-wheel driver test, provide proof of residence in Oregon for more than one year, proof of identity and date of birth," but the potential "recipient would not have to prove legal U.S. residency."

The survey of "the major Oregon ballot measures" found that legalizing marijuana is the only initiative that has the support of a majority of Oregon's voters. On the other hand, as the the Oregonian noted, unlike other measures—like whether to "require labeling of genetically modified foods"—that can go either way as election day approaches. Measure 88 is "the one exception" because it is the only one that seems certain to be defeated.

Oregon voters are rejecting the measure even though those in favor of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants have raised more than ten times the amount of money its opponents have. Groups for the measure have raised $421,000 while those opposed to it have only raised $37,000. Opponents have claimed that industries that want to hire illegal immigrants are backing efforts to pass Measure 88.

According to the Register-Guard, while those who support the measure have claimed that the driver's license "could not be used as identification with federal agencies for air travel, to enter a federal building, to register to vote or to obtain any government benefit requiring proof of citizenship or lawful presence in United States," talk radio show host "Lars Larson said the federal Transportation Security Administration, which oversees air travel security, confirmed to him that the driver card—as a state-issued identification card—would be accepted by the TSA to board an airplane." The TSA is not commenting on the matter after Larson's remarks. The Oregon Republican Party has also opposed the measure, "saying it could aid terrorists and Mexican drug cartels."

The poll, conducted by "Portland-based DHM Research," has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points. Read more about Poll: Nearly Two Thirds of Oregon Voters 'Likely' to Reject Driver's Licenses for Illegals

Oregon Voters Oppose Driver's Licenses for Illegals

According to a recent survey, voters in Oregon appear poised to roll back legislation that would have given the state's illegal immigrants the opportunity to obtain "driver cards" (a form driver's license permitted by federal law but not acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane). Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D), signed the bill into law in May 2013, but a group called Oregonians for Immigration Reform of McMinnville (a town in the heart of the Willamette Valley wine country) gathered more than 70,000 signatures in just a few months to freeze the law pending a referendum to be held on Election Day this year.

The survey, conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting, revealed that Oregon voters disapprove of Ballot Measure 88, which would permit Oregon DMVs to issue driver's licenses to residents with no proof of legal residence, by nearly 2-1. (60 percent against; 31 percent in favor)

The poll is noteworthy for a few reasons. Oregon is a blue state. President Obama carried it by 12 points in 2012. The bill sailed through the Oregon legislature last year with bipartisan support — the vote was 47-7 in the House and 20-7 in the Senate. And many nearby states — California, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico — already grant some form of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who qualify for them. But Oregonians, concerned that the measure would attract more illegal immigrants to the state, have said "not so fast". (Oregon has approximately 160,000 to 170,000 illegal immigrants, or about 4 percent of the state's total population.)

The Register Guard, a daily newspaper in Eugene, ran a lengthy story about the campaign on Saturday, along with a chart detailing spending to date. While neither side is particularly well funded, it's interesting to note that the "yes" camp (those who favor the driver's licences) has outraised and outspent the naysayers by more than 10-1. (The "yes" side raised $421,000 and has spent $273,000; the "no" side raised just $37,000 and has spent $26,000.) Nearly all of the top donors for the "yes" campaign are labor unions.

The disconnect between what politicians and labor unions apparently want and what the public thinks is a good idea is startling, and it shows how out of step elected leaders and union officials are with their constituents. Voters are deeply skeptical of measures providing any sort of benefits to illegal immigrants for good reason. In the United States, where a huge majority of citizens do not own a passport, a driver's license provides de-facto legitimacy and enables migrants to, as NumbersUSA neatly summarized, "rent apartments and cars, open bank accounts, cash checks, enter secure buildings, buy guns, and board commercial aircraft, among other things."

It also sends a mixed signal to illegal immigrants, many of whom aren't fluent English speakers and don't understand all of the nuances of our political system. If the state takes their photo and hands them an official looking card, that gives them a feeling of legitimacy and no doubt confirms their impression that the United States isn't serious about enforcing immigration law.

Oregon allowed applicants to obtain driver's licenses without proof of legal status prior to changing the law in 2008. So why change it back again now? I've read all the arguments for and against Ballot Measure 88, and I've yet to see anyone demonstrate that changing the law to deny illegal immigrants driver's licenses in 2008 has had any detrimental effect on public safety.

In fact, if you look at Oregon's annual "Traffic Crash Summaries", put out by the Oregon Department of Transportation, it appears as though traffic fatalities have declined since 2008. From 2003 to 2007, traffic deaths ranged from 455-512; whereas from 2008 to 2012, the figures ranged from 317 to 416. And this is during a time when the state's population increased substantially.

The truth is that there is no effective way to make sure that illegal immigrants maintain auto insurance, which is costly and generally a low priority for people who are barely scraping by. Oregon voters have an opportunity to send a resounding message, not just to their own politicians, but also to elected representatives all over the country. Read more about Oregon Voters Oppose Driver's Licenses for Illegals

Protect Oregon Driver Licenses - Cynthia Kendoll On The Long Road To No On 88

VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow writes:

I was very impressed by this recent presentation to the Social Contract Magazine’s Writers Workshop conference by Oregon’s Cynthia Kendoll on the struggle to block state legislation giving driver’s licenses to illegals. Just as in Montana in 2012, an immigration patriot initiative seems likely to prevail overwhelmingly, while GOP statewide candidates run away—and are defeated.

The presentation begins:

Good morning everyone. Thank you to K.C. [McAlpin, US Inc. Executive Director] for inviting me here today to tell our Oregon story. It’s been a wild ride!

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After the terrorist attacks of 2001, the 9/11 Commission gave very specific suggestions about what to do next. One of the most important items was to secure our driver’s licenses.

It took Oregon, which seemed determined to drag its feet, until 2008 to comply. But in 2008, our state legislature passed a secure driver’s license bill that required proof of legal presence in the United States. At the same time, it passed a companion bill requiring that uninsured motorists be tracked.

Unfortunately, since 2008, the state government has been working to undo that legislation

Our organization [Oregonians for Immigration Reform] works to motivate and educate citizens. When I took over as President, I felt that there was a very tight-knit board that did everything. We had a lot of members, but they were not really participating as I felt they could be. So we tried to make our organization consist of thousands of individual activists instead of one organization with a bunch of members. We did a billboard campaign and we were just amazed. We would put up a billboard and then we would go to the legislature and listen to the phones ring. It really makes you feel like your money is well spent when phones are ringing off the hook!

We focused on what our state government was trying to do. Just to give you an idea, on May Day 2012, our Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner read a letter from our Governor, John Kitzhaber, on the steps of the Capitol to a huge crowd. In the letter he said that the Governor was hoping to find a way to restore driving privileges to those “Oregonians” (i.e. illegal aliens) who did not qualify for a regular Oregon driver’s license. He was going to form a work group to investigate how he could go about doing that. [Gov. Kitzhaber promises action on immigrant driver's license issue, By Ryan Kost, Oregonian.com, May 1, 2012]

I left the steps of the Capitol and ran into the Capitol building, to the legislative services office, and said, “I want to volunteer to be on that work group.” The woman laughed at me and said, “Oh good grief, it will be weeks before they put that together. We’ll keep you posted.”

Nothing happened, so every three days I would check back and ask if they had started the group. All of our board members were calling and asking to be in this group to make sure that all voices are heard. Finally the lady got really annoyed and said: “We’re going to have letters prepared. We have selected the group, we have letters prepared, and they will be in the mail today for everybody, whether you are in the group or not.”

I went home and waited for five days. I didn’t get a letter. So I went back and, just by chance, there was an intern at the front desk and I said: “I would like to know about the Governor’s workgroup that’s looking into the driver’s licenses for people that are not here legally.”

And she said: “What about it?”

I said: “I would like a seat at that table.”

She said: “Well that group has been meeting for over a year.”

Well, that’s how they wanted to play it. Time to regroup.

We asked for information about the committee, we asked who was on the committee, we asked questions, and went to every department, including the Governor’s’ office, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Everybody rejected us and turned us away.

We filed Freedom of Information requests, four of them. Every one of them was turned down.

We went to the newspapers and a reporter at The Statesman Journal filed a Freedom of Information request and he was turned down. That really made him mad, so Governor Kitzhaber had to deal with a front page story exposing his secret work group.

David Cross, a phenomenal sleuth who does all of our crime reporting on foreign nationals, combs all the papers to find if someone submitted a letter to the editor, just happened to be combing the Internet and he ran across the minutes for these meetings. They were just laden with goodies—comments like: “The only way we’ll pass such a bill is if we can make this a safety issue. So we need to find a way to get law enforcement involved. We need to find a way to get insurance companies involved.” [Why opponents of driver-card legislation went to the ballot, By David Olen Cross, Oregonian.com, October 31, 2013]

So clearly they knew that people were going to buck this. I heard a rumor that they were going to try to include motor voter registration in this driver’s license bill, but somebody said: “That will wake the citizens up, so we better not put that in yet. We’ll do it incrementally.”

It tells you all you need to know about their mindset.

But a bill reversing the ban was introduced on April 2, 2013, had one hearing that was front-loaded with supporters, passed to the House Ways & Means Committee, and then to the House floor. They raced it through in under a month so that the Governor could sign it on May Day.

The night before the May Day rally, I got a call from Craig Keller and he said: “I have read the entire law and there is no emergency clause. Do you know what that means?”

I said: “Not really.”

He said: “Well that means that you can file a citizen’s referendum and challenge this law.”

I had heard the word “referendum,” but had no clue what was involved. But Craig said: “This is what you have to do. They are having this huge rally tomorrow and you need to take advantage of that media. They are going to have huge media coverage because this is huge for Oregon. Every newspaper, radio, TV station will be there. You’ll never get that kind of media attention again for an announcement that we are going to do a referendum. So write a press release and go there.”

So I did. I went there and had all my press releases clutched to my chest, waiting for the Governor to sign that bill. I didn’t want anyone to have an inkling we were going to do this. As soon as the Governor signed the bill, I started handing out press releases and all the sudden all of the press was following me: “Can we talk to you? What’s this about a referendum?”

The front page story was: “Governor signs driver’s card bill”—and then, right after that, an article about our group filing a referendum. [Gov. John Kitzhaber signs driver cards bill at May Day rally as opponents pursue referendum, OregonLive.com, By Yuxing Zheng, May 01, 2013]

For a quick review, a bill is passed by the legislature but if the citizens don’t like it, we have a constitutional right to a citizen’s veto referendum. This requires us to collect half of the number of signatures that it took to elect the Governor. That number was 58,142. We collected 77,000 signatures.

After that, you are assigned a ballot measure number. Of course, they took their sweet time about giving us that, which makes it very difficult because you want to put your ballot measure number on all your publicity materials.

Then there is Election Day, which is November 4.

There was far more work involved than I expected. Every single day it was something more, something now, something needs to be filed, registered, etc. Just to get this thing moving, there were so many steps to take.

I had heard absolutely horrendous horror stories about our Secretary of State’s office. So I went to them and said: “Listen. I’m a citizen, I’m a volunteer, I have no clue what I need to do, but I do know that I don’t want to make any mistakes. So, please help me.”

I was very respectful to them, and they were incredibly respectful to me. I had all their answers to my questions in writing so I had them to refer back to. Everyone kept asking me how I got them to be like. I said that if you treat them nicely, and don’t go in with an attitude, maybe they might not be so mean to you.

The biggest problem that we had to take care of right off the bat was getting the signature sheets and the bill printed. For every signature sheet, there had to be an 11-page copy of the bill. So I had cases upon cases of printer ink in my house. We had packet stuffing parties to get them all produced.

One of the very first things I did was call Fred Elbel and say we needed a website. He got on it right away. He warned me about what I was getting into and said: “It will be seven days a week, it will be every single day, every hour; it will be all you do until this is done.”

Now every time we talk, his sage soothing words are. “Told ‘ya.”

In Oregon, we can do online signature gathering on a single signer sheet. You log on to our website, you see the bill, you see a single signer sheet, you can print it out, sign it, and mail it in. That is really great because you can do it from the comfort of your own home, mail it in and never come in contact with the signature gatherer. We collected over 10,000 signatures online. That was twice the number of any other referendum in Oregon history.

One of the great pivot points was when the Oregon Republican Party endorsed our referendum. They told all of the county chairs to activate all their Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs) to support us. That was huge. We were getting packet requests from all over the state for signature gathering packets. I prepared over 800 packets and shuffled on down to the mailbox. They all weighed different because some people wanted 10 signature sheets, some wanted five, and some wanted extra copies of the bill and our literature.

We tried to get into as many events, fairs, gun shows; anywhere we could be to collect signatures. We just booked everything. We encouraged people to write Letters to the Editor to get the word out.

We worked very hard to take advantage of earned media. Jim Ludwick, one of the founding members and a past president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, and I travelled the state for 18 months speaking everywhere we could. We spoke at meetings ranging from five people to 250 people, everything from Americans for Prosperity to 9-12 Project Clubs, Republican gatherings, Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs. You name it, we’ve been there.

Then comes all the signature sheets. Somebody has to open them, verify them, and make sure that mistakes were not made. We collected 77,000 signatures, but we self-purged 5,000 of them that were duplicates, dating problems, etc., and turned in 72,000. It was a full court press to gather these signatures. We just had to keep going as fast as we possibly could.

I would like to establish a day where we salute volunteers. I have the most phenomenal volunteers in my state. One day I was feeling completely overwhelmed, I had so many packet orders and so much to do and speaking engagements to go to, and there came this little, meek knock at the door. This woman, her name is Diane Johnson, came to the door and said: “I bet you need help today. Just tell me what you need me to do.” I love that; she did that several times.

Now there are some serious, hard costs involved in doing something like this. I am a penny-pincher, nickel-stretcher, you name it. I was very fortunate that U.S. Inc. very generously helped us out. We couldn’t have done it without them. We’re not a fundraising organization; that isn’t what we do. We do have generous members, but a lot of them are on a fixed income, so expecting them to give a lot of money is not realistic.

[California gubernatorial candidate] Tim Donnelly spoke at this conference last year. Several people told me that I needed to talk with him because he did a huge referendum in California. So I called him several times and he never called back. I thought: “Well, he is a busy man since he is running for Governor.” One day I was coming home with a big load of groceries and the phone rang and he said, “This is Tim Donnelly. You don’t have an answering machine, young lady. Do you know how many times I have tried to call you? Get paper, get a pen. I’m going to talk. You’re going to listen.”

Then for about half an hour, he just spewed advice about how to win the referendum. It was phenomenal advice.

One of the things he suggested we utilize was “drive-through democracy.” You pick a popular location, you advertise, and then you take advantage of the media. We had a gentleman who had a van and went to nursing homes and brought the residents through to sign the referendum.

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We put up a billboard for the fair in 2013 that said: “Come see us at the fair and sign our referendum at the fair.” That billboard is still up.

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We even rented an outdoor booth at the Oregon State Fair. We were just absolutely swarmed with people coming to sign. Of course, last year’s fair had extremely warm weather and a hurricane that came through—not fun when you’re in an outside booth filled with papers. I had my foot on the table trying to hold the clipboards down. It was quite exciting.

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But we made it. We qualified to be on the ballot. I’m telling you, every jaw in the Capitol building dropped because nobody thought that we would do it.

Jim and I were watching as they were verifying the signatures. There were about a dozen people opposed to our efforts who were also watching and verifying. They would lean into the election officials real hard and write all of these challenge things down. Jim and I thought: “Isn’t it ironic that people who are here illegally are watching people who are trying to make sure that legal registered voters signed the forms properly, all so we can overturn a law that rewards people here illegally?” The irony there was just thick.

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Once we were verified, we thought we had clear sailing. Then a short session of the legislature came up.

We had a great ballot title. But the opposition evidently polled that title and said to themselves: “We’re going to lose. We’re going to lose big. We have to do something.”

So they got the bright idea to re-write the title in order to improve the odds of keeping the law. It passed the House and went over to the Senate. Fortunately, these tactics galvanized the major newspapers and radio stations to take our side. They said: “Get out of the citizens’ business, quit tinkering with the title.”

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Jim and I lived at the Senate for about five days, going from office to office saying: “You don’t want this on your record, do you?” The bill died in the Senate. So we prevailed.

Once we had our ballot title, we looked at our opponents to figure out what they were saying that we could counter. Newspapers kept saying that they had the support of law enforcement. I didn’t believe that, so I challenged the newspapers to say who. It turns out that it was just Ron Louie, the retired police chief of Hillsboro, a completely out-of-control city in regards to illegal immigration, and Police Chief Mike Reese of Portland, a Sanctuary City. That’s it—that’s their law enforcement support.

So I thought: “We can do better than that.” The day I was trying to figure out how to do this, I got a phone call from Sheriff Tom Bergin of Clatsop County. He said that he wanted to help us. He told me to hold off because he thought he could get a few more Sheriffs in.

Later, he called me again and told me that he had 9 people on board. Nine sheriffs! After that, he had 22! I thought “22, that’s great!” and asked him “Can I post something now?” And he said, no, not yet. He was going to a conference of the Oregon’s Sheriff’s Association and he thought he might be able to get a few more.

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Then he called me again and said he had 28 now, giving us a supermajority. Also, we now had the endorsement of the Sheriffs of Oregon PAC. That was just huge.

We have gone on to collect a wonderful group of endorsers. We have Michael Cutler, Border Patrol Union Vice President Derek Hernandez, two Oregon senators and two representatives, Maria Espinoza, D.A. King, and a lot more local law enforcement.

And people keep coming out of the woodwork. I was just on the phone trying to get our booth for the 2014 Oregon State Fair, trying to find out how we could get a booth that faced east so we wouldn’t have a storm move in, like last year. Then a donor called and said: “I want you to have the most kickass booth that you can have, and it’s on me.” So, we got an indoor booth, a banner, and a stop sign. It was really nice to be inside.

I worked very hard to get legislators and candidates to work in our booth because I wanted them to hear from the people walking by. We also got the bright idea to provide these fans in the shape of our trademark stop sign. So we made up these fans. I had 2,500 of them made and I have 12 left, they’re outside if you want one. They were a huge success.

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A gentleman told me I could put our lawn signs, five of them, on his frontage. So I did, but I came by a couple days later and my signs were tossed back in the blackberry bushes and this little paper sign opposing us was stapled up. We put them back, only for the same thing to happen—twice more. Then the homeowner got mad and he took the lawn sign and stapled it to the side of his garage. Our supporters’ dedication and courage is always inspiring.

A quick story here. Eddie Garcia, who now lives in La Grande, Oregon, had our ads running on his radio station. There’s a little newspaper in La Grande called Tidbits, and there was a Mexican restaurant who advertised in that paper, which was also carrying ads for Eddie’s radio show. So the Mexican restaurateur told the paper “If you don’t stop publishing ads for Eddy’s radio show, I’m going to pull my ad.” So the paper kicked the restaurant ads out and called us and said, “We’ll put your ad in our paper and you don’t have to pay for it.”

I love these stories.

We had a huge, standing-room-only meeting on September 27, 2014. Our group isn’t really a rally group, but we had a huge meeting and we got this brilliant idea. We had a captive audience; we got the lawn signs; we have Mission Street/Highway 22, which is a big, popular street, and I said: “Nobody leaves this place until you spend 15 minutes on the line.” And we did.

It was great, and we had great pictures in the paper.

In contrast to our more organic approach, our opposition, which has $423,000 (we have about a 1/10 of that), has professionally-produced signs and they stand on the corners of very busy intersections and chant. Their chant is usually something like “Stop the hate! Vote yes on 88.”

I’ve received plenty of reports that people think this is obnoxious, they don’t like to be yelled at while they are in their cars.

And news is always breaking in our favor. For example, we have been saying all along that driver’s cards will probably be used to get on a plane. This was always denied by the other side. However, we called TSA and they confirmed that driver’s cards can be used to board a plane. We got great TV news coverage after we had proven this.

Now we’re starting a full court press on radio ads. We’d love the help of any of you who can help us to the finish line. It can come in the form of advice, ideas, suggestions, or cold hard cash!

Measure 88 is really critical. Oregon is the only state that has been successful getting this issue to the ballot. Other states have tried and not gotten as far. We’re also the only state in the entire country to have an immigration issue on the ballot this fall. So all eyes are on us. We want to send a message so loud and clear.

Vote No on 88!

Cynthia Kendoll [Email her] is the President of Oregonians For Immigration Reform. Read more about Protect Oregon Driver Licenses - Cynthia Kendoll On The Long Road To No On 88

Oregon referendum's story told in Wahsington DC

Being invited to speak at the Social Contract's - Writer's Workshop was quite an honor for someone like me.

On October 12, I was in Washington D.C. to share the story of how a fearless group of grassroots activists turned this blue state we call home, on it's ear. 

Filing the Citizen's Veto Referendum was just the beginning.  Follow along with my presentation as we remember all the twists and turns we have encountered on our trip to getting SB833 on the ballot.  Against all odds, we did it!

Remember to Vote - and to Vote NO on Ballot Measure 88!

 

 

  Read more about Oregon referendum's story told in Wahsington DC

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