driver's license

Lawsuit aims to reinstate driver cards law dumped by voters

PORTLAND — An Oregon nonprofit filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to reinstate a state law that would have allowed people to get driver's cards if they can't prove they are in the U.S. legally.

The law was approved by the Legislature in 2013 then overturned by voters the following year in a referendum.

In its lawsuit, the Oregon Law Center says it's illegal for Oregon to enforce Measure 88 ...

The group says the measure took driving privileges away from immigrants who lack legal status ...

The lawsuit also says the measure was driven by animosity and the desire to punish or to avoid rewarding a politically unpopular minority...

As a result, it is discriminatory and violates the U.S Constitution, the suit says.

The lawsuit does not question the general validity of Oregon's citizen initiative process.

Defendants targeted in the lawsuit include Gov. Kate Brown, the director the state Department of Transportation, several Transportation Commission members, and the administrator of the Oregon DMV.

State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said the Oregon Department of Justice will represent the defendants. Edmunson declined to comment on the pending litigation.

About 120,000 immigrants in Oregon lack legal status, according to the Pew Research Center...

The complaint was filed in the name of five anonymous immigrants who would have qualified for the driver's cards...

The suit seeks to be certified as a class action that includes all residents who have lived in the state for more than one year and are denied driving privileges solely because they are unable to prove legal presence.

The state estimated that, were it not for the passage of Measure 88, it would have issued about 84,000 driver's cards in the first year...

... in 2008, to make licenses compliant with the federal REAL ID Act, legislators enacted a law that required Oregonians to show proof of legal presence in the U.S. to obtain a license.

The state reversed course in 2013, joining seven other states in granting driving privileges to immigrants lacking legal status....

Oregon voters, by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent cancelled that law before it went into effect.

Proponents of Measure 88 — mostly represented by the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform — said granting the driver cards would lead to more immigrants without legal status moving to Oregon, taking Oregonians' jobs and pushing up crime rates.

Andrea Miller, director of the Oregon immigrant-rights group Causa which pushed for the driver card law, said Measure 88's invalidation of the law has led to a crisis in the Latino community...

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Oregon driver cards: Immigrants sue to reverse Measure 88 defeat

SALEM — A group of Mexican immigrants is suing to reverse a decision by Oregon voters on a 2014 ballot measure that prevents undocumented immigrants from getting Oregon driver cards.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, the plaintiffs said the outcome of Measure 88 is unconstitutional because it "arbitrarily" denies driving privileges "to Plaintiffs and others based on their membership in a disfavored minority group."

The plaintiffs also say the referendum was "motivated in substantial part by animus toward persons from Mexico and Central America,"...

The lawsuit comes nearly a year after Oregon voters resoundingly defeated Measure 88,...

"It was an overwhelming rejection of giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens," said Jim Ludwick, communications director for Oregonians for Immigration Reform. "but somehow that doesn't apply to people who are here illegally and think the law doesn't apply to them." 

The measure was a reaction to Senate Bill 833, which passed in the 2013 legislative session with support from Democrats and a few moderate and rural Republicans. Then-Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps before a raucous crowd of 2,000 people.

But the law never took effect as opponents quickly organized a campaign to refer it to the ballot.

Since 2008, Oregon has required applicants for a driver's license or permit to provide proof of citizenship...

"It's reached a crisis point for families because they don't have a solution,"...

The five Mexican immigrants, identified only by their initials in court documents, are joined by two Latino nonprofits, Familias En Acción and Los Niños Cuentan, as plaintiffs in the case....

Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, said the state is reviewing the case but declined to comment further.

— Ian K. Kullgren

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Feds say WA drivers licenses won’t be good enough for airport security

Soon, Washington residents may need a passport or other federally issued identification to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings because Washington-issued licenses won’t be acceptable.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the state this week that standard driver licenses and identification cards will have to comply with federal rules requiring proof of U.S. residency or citizenship in order to be valid for federal purposes, according to the Associated Press.

The Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID program already requires states to ask for proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency for state-issued identification that would be acceptable to get into federal buildings. The same also will be required — perhaps as soon as next year — to use state-issued identification for airport security lines.

Most states do not issue drivers licenses without proof of residency or citizenship. Washington and New Mexico are the only states that issue standard driver’s licenses and identification cards regardless of U.S. residency or citizenship status. Other states, including California, issue drivers licenses to people without documentation, but the licenses and identification cards indicate that the identification card is not valid for federal purposes.

Washington had an extension to comply with the REAL ID law. But this week, the Department of Homeland Security declined to continue to Washington’s extension and gave the state three months to comply, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Licensing developed a proposal that would have continued to allow undocumented immigrant drivers to get standard licenses and expanded the state’s existing Enhanced ID program. But the proposal died in the 2015 legislative session.

In 2007, the Washington state legislature passed a bill opposing the federal REAL ID mandates.

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More states tackle driver’s card dilemma

A new study out Tuesday, Aug. 18, shows that the number of individual states bypassing thorny federal immigration issues and instead finding practical ways to deal with driving privileges for unauthorized immigrants is growing.

The PEW Charitable Trusts report, called “Deciding Who Drives; State choices surrounding unauthorized immigrants and driver’s licenses,” released Tuesday, said 10 states and the District of Columbia passed driver’s license laws for non-citizens in 2013. It had been 11 states until Oregon’s law was repealed by ballot measure last fall.

Two more states, Delaware and Hawaii, passed laws this year granting driver identification to unauthorized immigrants. And four more, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico and Texas, have bills in front of legislative committees.

“So you can see, this issue exemplifies immigration federalism,” said Adam Hunter, a director at the PEW Charitable Trusts whose team put the report together. “All states are grappling with immigration. We have large states, small states and states across the political spectrum that don’t want to address immigration reform, but do want to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005.”

The act, a voluntary measure for states, sets minimum standards for driver’s licenses on issues such as security features for federal identification. States that issue separate driver’s cards for unauthorized immigrants are required to give them distinctive markings and text that says “not valid for federal identification.”

States such as Washington avoided some of the anticipated problems of having two separate sets of driver’s ID by issuing unauthorized immigrants the same driver’s license as it issues to other residents. Hunter said this proviso means Washington is not in compliance with the voluntary federal law.

“These licenses don’t grant or change anyone’s immigration status,” Hunter said. “Immigration has always been thought of as a federal-level prerogative. This report shows that it is an issue of a growing number of states legislating on matters of importance to their immigrant populations. They’re applying practical solutions on local matters.”

Hunter said it was too early to know whether states who’ve adopted local driver’s license laws have seen an increase or decrease in unauthorized-immigrant population growth, because many of the new laws had only been implemented this year.

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the grassroots organization that helped overturn Oregon’s driver’s card law last year, said she’d be more likely to read a PEW report that examined the number of states trying to repeal their laws versus those trying to implement one.

“I don’t expect it’ll (issuing driver’s cards for unauthorized immigrants) come up next session,” Kendoll said. “But then you never know what the Legislature is going to do. I would hope they’d listen to what the people, their constituents, want. And I think that 66 percent of Oregonians (the percentage who voted to repeal the law last November) is a pretty good indication of what the people of Oregon want.”

Driver cards rejected by wide margin
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California offers driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

This year California has begun to offer undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses, and tens of thousands of immigrants have been standing long hours in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices around the state to avail themselves of the new document.

Polls show that most state residents support the new policy, which is in line with other state policies which allow undocumented immigrants in the state, for example, to practice law or dentistry, among other licensed professions.

California now allows children from low-income undocumented families to receive subsidized health care, and lawmakers are considering allowing undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance through the state’s public exchange. A bill now before the legislature would give agricultural workers permits and protect them from deportation, although deportation of undocumented immigrants has been dealt with at the federal level. A suburb of Los Angeles will this week appoint undocumented immigrants to two unpaid advisory board positions.

DMV officials say that of the 883,000 licenses issued so far this year, 443,000 were issued to undocumented immigrants. The officials estimate that by the end of 2017, the DMV will issue more than 1.5 million driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in the state.

The New York Times notes that about three million undocumented immigrants – about a quarter of undocumented immigrants in the United States – live and work in California. More than half of the state population consists of immigrants or children of immigrants.

There are critics who say the new policy interferes with federal immigration policies. Joe Guzzardi, a spokesman for Californians for Population Stabilization, a group which calls for restricting immigration, told the Times that the new policy “creates even more of a magnet in what is already basically a sanctuary state…. These are very tangible rewards to people who have knowingly and willingly violated the law.”

Other states have also moved to offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but polls show that there is less public support for such policies in those states. In Connecticut, state authorities expected 54,000 applications for driver’s licenses from undocumented immigrants within three years of the policy being initiated, but found out that 50,000 rushed to apply in the first six months, leading to complaints from residents about long lines and delays. Maryland has, since January 2014, issued about 60,000 licenses to undocumented immigrants, while Colorado has given out about 10,000.

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Fraud crackdown sends illegal immigrant licenses plummeting in NM

A crackdown on document fraud has sent the number of driver's licenses issued to illegal aliens in New Mexico plunging by 70 percent, while revealing that the state likely issued tens of thousands of bogus licenses after becoming the first state to adopt the controversial policy a dozen years ago.

Last year, New Mexico issued 4,577 licenses to foreign nationals, down sharply from the 2010 high of about 15,000. ...the huge drop came as soon as new procedures were implemented to identify fraudulent documents that had been submitted to obtain licenses.

“While this is encouraging news, Gov. Martinez still sides with an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans who believe we must repeal the dangerous law of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, which has turned our state into a magnet for criminal activity,” said Mike Lonergan, spokesman for the governor.

New Mexico became the first of 10 states to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens in 2003, under then-Gov. Bill Richardson, who claimed it would cut down on uninsured drivers in the state. But while the policy's effect on public safety has been inconclusive, critics say it launched a cottage industry for criminals to sell fraudulent documents.

Last year, federal officials broke up a five-year operation -- which extended from New Mexico to New York -- that saw illegal immigrants from Georgia paying as much as $2,000 to obtain documents to secure a New Mexico driver’s license.

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A high-profile case in 2012 saw five Albuquerque residents federally indicted in a multi-state license distribution scheme...

"New Mexico's driver's license policy has once again attracted criminal elements to our state in pursuit of a government-issued identification card," Martinez said at the time. "Our current system jeopardizes the safety and security of all New Mexicans and it is abundantly clear that the only way to solve this problem is to repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."

... Republican State Rep. Bill Rehm, a retired county sheriff's officer, said more than 100,000 driver’s licenses have been issued to illegal immigrants, but only about 17,000 have filed a state income tax.

“These people enter the country illegally, then obtain a driver’s license through fraud and lies,” Rehm said. “We sparked a whole criminal industry by allowing this.”

Rehm is among a large number of opponents who have been unable to get the law repealed, despite Martinez's support. The critics say the policy has penalized legal residents of the state, because of a 2005  federal law aimed at preventing terrorists from getting fraudulent IDs. Because the federal REAL ID Act sets forth standards stricter than New Mexico's for federal recognition of identification documents, the Department of Homeland Security will not recognize licenses from states including New Mexico as ID for getting on a plane or entering federal buildings, for example...

Vivian Juarez, director of the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque, declined to comment on the drop in licenses issued to Mexican nationals in New Mexico.

Joseph J. Kolb is a freelance journalist based in New Mexico.

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Not everything is an emergency

Please read the Guest Column written by Oregon Senator Betsy Johnson, (D–Scappoose) that appeared in the Daily Astorian newspaper.

Senator Johnson exposes the misuse of the “emergency clause” by the Oregon Legislature.  She uses the vote on Measure 88 as the prime example of why bills should not have an emergency clause unless there is a true emergency.


Guest Column: Not everything is an emergency

By State Sen. Betsy Johnson

Published: May 21, 2015

Any law with an emergency clause is protected from the people’s veto power.

The Oregon Legislature is beginning to resemble a 9-1-1 call center. Almost everything is an emergency.

Increasingly these are the words you find in the House and Senate bills coming out of the Legislature: “An emergency is declared to exist, and this act takes effect on its passage.”

Any law with an emergency clause is protected from the people’s veto power. Voters cannot challenge it through the referendum process.

You might be surprised what constitutes an emergency. In this session so far, it includes bills like “banning the box,” which makes it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants to check a box if they’ve been convicted of a felony. Why would ex-felons’ job hunts constitute an emergency? There are many non-felons who endure extended job searches.

Or how about the “motor voter” law, HB 2177, which automatically registers licensed drivers to vote. What kind of an emergency exists that requires drivers to be automatically registered to vote?

Then there’s the recently approved gun law, SB 941, which requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks for private sales of legal firearms. (If you buy or sell on the black market, you’re exempt from this emergency.)

Soon to come is SB 822, an emergency bill requested by criminal defense attorneys, who want grand jury proceedings tape-recorded. Criminal defense attorneys, apparently, can’t wait to find out the identities of victims and witnesses.

At the rate we’re going, all bills will be deemed emergency acts. It will become routine. Perhaps that’s the point. If citizens complain that a controversial bill has been labeled an emergency to protect it from the people’s veto power, legislators can quell any suspicion by simply saying, “Most bills have an emergency clause.”

Voters still have some constitutional protection. Tax bills, for example, cannot be enacted as an emergency.

If you’re a citizen curious about the number of bills that were passed as emergencies in the last regular session, the information may not be readily available. If you call the legislative assembly office, they may direct you to the state legislature’s website and a section called “Citizen Engagement.”

There you’ll find a 190-page document called the “2013 Summary of Legislation.” One caller I know prowled through that, read the brief descriptions and effective dates of each bill that passed, and found that about half of the roughly 300 bills listed there were emergencies.

One bill that slipped through without an emergency clause was SB 833, and its fate is a lesson in why referendum power is important.

SB 833 allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driver cards. Since it wasn’t an emergency, opponents had 90 days after the end of the legislative session to exercise the power of referendum. They collected enough signatures from qualified voters and forced SB 833 onto the November 2014 ballot. As Ballot Measure 88, voters rejected driver cards for illegal immigrants by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

The people’s veto power exists for a reason. It serves as a check on legislators who can become so focused on what happens inside the state Capitol building that they forget there’s an entire state outside the door.

We work in a grand, majestic building. It’s open to the public. But once the legislature is in session, a legislator’s time is often consumed talking to other legislators and lobbyists. We don’t always notice things like emergency clauses and whether they are really needed. Some of my bills have carried emergency clauses.

Our state’s frequent use of the emergency clause is not unique.

Former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, concerned about similar abuse in her state, began vetoing emergency clauses on bills, leaving intact the rest of the legislation. One of her first such vetoes was an emergency clause on a bill adding porphyria to the list of disabilities for special parking privileges.

The Olympian newspaper praised her in an editorial: “The Legislature’s overuse of the emergency clause should incense the public because it takes away their right to reject laws adopted by the Legislature. Where’s the outrage?”

Oregon’s constitution also allows the governor to veto an emergency provision in new bills without affecting the rest of the bill.

Governor Kate Brown should use this power. As Secretary of State, she pushed for the “motor voter” bill, ostensibly to make it easier for more voters to exercise their right to vote.

The emergency clause does exactly the opposite.

It takes away the people’s right to vote.

Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, represents District 16, covering Clatsop and Columbia counties and parts of Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington.

The people’s veto power exists for a reason.

From:  The DailyAstorian

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Oregon Voters Reject Illegal Alien Driver’s Licenses

Voters in Oregon overwhelmingly rejected a law passed in 2013 that would grant driver’s license cards to illegal aliens. (Oregon Live, Nov. 5, 2014) Ballot Measure 88, which put Senate Bill (“S.B.”) 833 up for voter approval, was defeated by a landslide of 68% of voters in favor of vetoing S.B 833, with only 32% in support of the law. (Id.) The defeat of Measure 88 marks a huge victory for true immigration reformers in Oregon and nationwide. Currently, eleven states grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. However, activists in Oregon were the first state to hold their elected representatives accountable and put the question on the ballot.

Opposition against Measure 88 was entirely a grassroots effort. Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a local group whose mission is to support enforcement of immigration law, initiated the referendum of the law by working tirelessly to gather over 71,000 signatures in just a few months to get Measure 88 on the ballot. (Breitbart, Oct. 21, 2014) Supporters for the Measure included illegal alien lobby groups, labor unions, and businesses that profited off of the availability of cheap, illegal labor. (Oregon Live, Nov. 4, 2014) True immigration reformers raised only $37,000 to fight Measure 88, compared to the $421,000 raised by the illegal alien lobby to support it. (Breitbart, Oct. 21, 2014)

The movement to defeat Measure 88 gained momentum in April when sheriffs representing all 36 counties in Oregon came out in opposition to the Measure. (Oregon Live, Sept. 22, 2014) Sheriffs of Oregon Political Action Committee, which represents Oregon sheriffs, issued a press release stating: “The Sheriffs of Oregon support the citizens veto referendum #301 to overturn S.B. 833. We urge a NO vote.” (Id.) Tom Bergin, current Clatsop County Sheriff and former President of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, added, “It is wrong to provide special driver’s licenses to people who cannot prove legal presence in the United States. For Oregon to do so, will only enhance the ability for criminal behavior, thus creating a larger risk to our citizens public safety. The Sheriffs of Oregon urge you to oppose this Measure.” (Id.)

Supporters of illegal alien driver’s licenses appealed to public safety concerns, arguing S.B. 833 would improve public safety and increase the number of insured drivers on state roads and highways. (Portland Tribune, Oct. 16, 2014) These arguments, however, lost credibility after the law enforcement adamantly spoke up against the law. Dave Driscall, a retired Salem Police officer, described Measure 88 as “just a way for a select group of people to avoid Oregon law. It will not increase traffic safety or lower the number of uninsured drivers in this state. If allowed to stand Oregon could become a safe haven for criminals and terrorists.” (Oregon Live, Sept. 22, 2014) Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Insurance Regulation in 2011 reported that the average percentage of uninsured motorists is actually higher in states that have no lawful presence requirement for obtaining driving privileges. (National Association of Insurance Commissioners)

True immigration reform activists in the state were thrilled to learn of the outcome of the referendum. (Statesman Journal, Nov. 4, 2014) Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, commented, “We wanted to get it to the ballot, and we wanted to let Oregon voters decide this issue. I think they’ve spoken loud and clear.” (Id.) Kendoll stated the outcome was a victory for those “sick and tired of big business, special interest groups and unions controlling our government.” (Oregon Live, Nov. 4, 2014)

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Polk County Republican Women welcome OFIR President

Alert date: 
Alert body: 

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll will address the Polk County Republican Women Wednesday, April 8th at 11:30am at  the Oak Knoll Golf Course on Hwy. 22.



Driver’s license demand surges

A surge of undocumented immigrants seeking driver’s licenses has surprised the California Department of Motor Vehicles, pouring in at twice the rate officials expected and underscoring massive interest in the new program.

Just three months after driver’s licenses became available to immigrants living in California illegally, the product of legislation advocates had pursued fruitlessly for years before prevailing and passing Assembly Bill 60 in 2013, 493,998 have sought licenses. The number has surprised officials who spent months bracing for an influx of new customers by hiring staff, opening new DMV offices and extending hours.

“The interest in this program is far greater than anyone anticipated,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement.

In preparing to offer the new licenses, the DMV estimated that about 1.4 million immigrants would apply over the course of three years. The new figures show they have handled one-third of that expected total in three months, a rate double what the DMV expected, although the official estimate of the total number of eligible applicants remains the same. About 203,000 people have received licenses .

An initial burst of applicants began to level off in February, said a spokesman for the DMV. He attributed the rapid pace to a mass information campaign that enlisted law enforcement, elected officials, consular authorities and foreign language media to get the word out.

“There’s been a lot of outreach from many groups, many organizations,”said Artemio Armenta, a spokesman for the DMV. “A lot of efforts from every angle, from social media to the news media to community organizations getting the word out – it’s been a big effort across the board.”

The swell of immigrant license seekers has led to longer wait times for walk-ins at field offices and processing centers, particularly in Southern California. In response, DMV officials have been encouraging customers to handle requests online or make appointments. They added phone lines, responding to customers complaining of getting busy signals when they called for appointments, and restructured the workflow at offices.

“We sort of have a triage system, if you will,” Armenta said. “We were seeing longer lines at the beginning because people were coming in early, hoping to be the first to apply for a license.”

Before immigrants can begin the process of taking written and road tests they must establish their identity and their California residency, a requirement that prompted consternation from advocates worried that many immigrants lack adequate documentation. But the DMV said the vast majority of applicants, 90.8 percent, have had the necessary documents.

The huge turnout also defied worries that immigrants accustomed to remaining inconspicuous would stay away, fearful of walking into government offices and identifying themselves as being in the country illegally even though the law creating the license program keeps applicants’ data confidential and prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing it with other government agencies.

But many people have not been deterred. Apolonio Morales, political director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, attributed the extraordinary interest both to California’s investment in staffing and outreach and to basic word of mouth.

“It’s definitely the community talking amongst themselves and saying this is possible,” Morales said. “At the end of the day it’s that card in their hands that makes the difference, and that’s the proof to the rest of the community that it can be done.”

Social media also helped drive interest. A Moreno Valley woman, Erika Paz, launched a Facebook group called Preparándonos para las Licencias, roughly “getting ourselves ready for licenses,” that provides guidance on getting licenses. Its wall teems with people posing logistical questions and sharing tips in Spanish. As of Friday afternoon the group boasted over 15,000 members.

Paz said she empathized with the concerns she hears. She was a teenager when her parents brought her to the country and stayed after their tourist visa expired, making her presence unlawful. She still drove to attend classes and get to work. Now a legal permanent resident who is applying for U.S. citizenship, Paz said she spends upward of three hours a day aiding fellow immigrants.

“I felt it was my responsibility to get people ready to take their tests and help with the procedures and make sure the communities can unite and help each other as much as possible,” Paz said.

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