state legislation

Oregon immigrant driver’s license law opponents get creative

Faced with collecting 58,000 signatures by Oct. 4, opponents of a new Oregon law that gives driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and others who cannot prove they are living here legally are sharpening their tactics.

From a drive-through petition drive on Friday to a booth at the Oregon State Fair through Sept. 2, advocates are seeking the thousands of valid signatures needed for a referendum that would challenge a new state law that gives “driver privilege cards” to those who do not have the documents required to get a driver’s license. The driver’s card will be restricted from being used for identification or voting.

But advocates with Oregonians for Immigration Reform say the new law, which goes into effect in January, is a way for people living here illegally to get a driver’s license.

Jim Ludwick, communications director for the group, also said despite the restriction, he believes the cards will be used for identification and put into the hands of criminals.

Ludwick wouldn’t say how many signatures the group has collected so far. State law requires them to get more than 58,000 valid signatures within 90 days of the end of the legislative session (July 8) to get to referendum, which would let voters decide if the driver’s cards should be handed out, on the November 2014 ballot.

Ludwick said he’s confident they can do it.

“We have people who come see us and before I can say a word they grab the pen out of my hand and they want to sign,” he said.

State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, is expected to make an appearance at the Oregon State Fair booth on Friday. Esquivel was a strong opponent of the legislation, Senate Bill 833, when it made its way through the Legislature.

Gov. John Kitzhaber pushed for the bill and signed it with fanfare on May Day.

Contact Shelby Sebens at Shelby@NorthwestWatchdog.org

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Group tries 'drive-thru democracy' to get driver cards on the ballot

SALEM, Ore. – A group trying to gather enough signatures in an effort to put the new driver card law on the November 2014 ballot before it begins is using a cue from fast-food restaurants.

The driver cards will allow people to drive who can't prove U.S. citizenship.

The group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, hoped that Friday's "drive-thru democracy" would make it convenient for voters to sign their petition, because they need a lot of signatures – more than 58,000 by Oct. 4.

So on Friday, not far off Interstate 5, several volunteers brought petition sheets to the drivers and passengers as they pulled into a parking lot at Market Street and Savage Road.

"Our main concern is that our government's role is not and should not be to reward illegal behavior," said Cynthia Kendoll of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

When Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833 into law in May, supporters called it the biggest victory for immigrant rights in the state.

Luis Guerra of Causa, an immigrant rights organization in Oregon, said he disagrees with the notion that the new law rewards illegal behavior.

"I think it's a public safety issue," he said. "We should make sure that everyone that's behind the wheel, of any vehicles in the state of Oregon, knows the rules of the road."

The "drive-through" signature-gathering effort will continue until 8 p.m. Friday.

Leaders of the effort won't say how many signatures they have so far, but said they hope to collect about 500 Friday night.

If opponents of the new law fail to get the required number of signatures, the new law starts Jan. 1, 2014.

The driver card allows people to drive legally in Oregon as long as they can prove they've lived here for a year, and they pass the driver tests.

It's legal ID for opening a bank account, car insurance, or a gym membership. it is not legal ID for boarding a plane, registering to vote, or buying a gun.

Driver card holders also cannot drive big, commercial trucks. Read more about Group tries 'drive-thru democracy' to get driver cards on the ballot

A novel approach to get petition signatures: the drive-through

Alert date: 
August 23, 2013
Alert body: 

A group dedicated to overturning a new Oregon law that grants driver-privilege cards to people without conventional documentation has come up with a quick way to gather petition signatures.

It’s encouraging motorists to participate in drive-through democracy.

“You don’t even need to get out of your car,” said Jim Ludwick, the group’s communications director. “Just drive up, sign the petition and drive away.”

Read the entire article.

Drive-thru signature gathering event Friday, Agust 23

Alert date: 
August 22, 2013
Alert body: 

If you haven't had the opportunity to sign the referendum petition to overturn SB833 - the new law giving driver privilege cards to people in the country illegally - it doesn't get any easier than this.  Just drive up, sign the petition and drive away.  You don't even need to get out of your car!

Protect Oregon Driver Licenses will be hosting a DRIVE-THRU signature gathering event this FRIDAY, August 23, from 12 noon until 8:00pm in the parking lot at Market St. and Savage Rd., just west of the freeway at exit 213. Watch for the signs guiding you in.

Volunteers will be available if you have any questions, or if you would like to pick up supplies so that you can collect signatures of your friends, neighbors and family members, too. The deadline of October 4th is rapidly approaching and we need 58,142 valid signatures.

PODL will also be hosting a booth at the Oregon State Fair - just outside the southeast corner of the Columbia Exhibit Hall. Please drop by and say hello!

 

 


 

5 views on immigration reform, Oregon 'driver cards'


Members of Congress may be away from the nation's capital during their August recess, but that doesn't mean the debate about federal immigration debate has simmered down.

Same goes for the Oregon Legislature, which adjourned last month, leaving in its wake strong feelings about a new law authorizing undocumented immigrants to obtain Oregon driver cards.

In recent days, a variety of guest columnists have weighed in on the issues.

Read the complete article. Read more about 5 views on immigration reform, Oregon 'driver cards'

Oregon minority, immigrant rights groups shape legislative agenda for 2014 and beyond

SALEM -- After a string of high-profile victories this legislative session, minority and immigrant rights groups plan to use their growing political sophistication to tackle even more in 2014 and beyond.

Legislation on sentencing reforms, racial profiling, hate crimes and policies to address racial gaps in education achievement, housing and employment are some of the topics the groups hope to advance.

These more ambitious goals come on the heels of several new state laws they pushed, including legislation that grants in-state tuition to certain undocumented Oregon high school graduates and four-year driving privileges to Oregonians who can't prove they're in the country legally. One group opposed to driver cards is gathering signatures for a possible referendum.

Read the entire Oregonian article here. Read more about Oregon minority, immigrant rights groups shape legislative agenda for 2014 and beyond

Rep. Esquivel gives Chief Petitioners view of SB 833

As Chief Petitioner on the SB 833 referendum campaign, Representative Sal Esquivel walks readers through a logical explanation of just how the bill was conceived and just how the public was deceived.  Read Rep. Esquivel's op ed in the Mail Tribune.
  Read more about Rep. Esquivel gives Chief Petitioners view of SB 833

Opportunity is knocking

Alert date: 
July 17, 2013
Alert body: 

Ladies and gentlemen - 'tis the season to collect signatures for the referendum to overturn SB 833 - the new law giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens.  There are so many great signature gathering opportunities in so many locations across the state.  Check out or Protect Oregon Driver Licenses website for a long list of upcoming events.

Driver Privilege Cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon

OFIR President Cynthia Kendoll explains why driver privilege cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon and learn how you can help overturn SB 833. 

Read her guest commentary in the Sunday Statesman Journal.
  Read more about Driver Privilege Cards for illegal aliens are wrong for Oregon

Immigration issues affected by '12 election

Supporters and opponents agree: The outcome of the 2012 election, more than anything else, shaped how the Oregon Legislature responded to immigration issues in 2013.

“With all the people who came out to vote in November, our electorate made it clear in the 2012 election what the priority was,” said Luis Guerra, the new executive director of Causa Oregon immigrant-rights group.

A new Democratic majority in the Oregon House — the Oregon Senate remained in Democratic hands — ensured passage of two state priorities for immigrant-rights groups.

One bill was for students to obtain in-state tuition rates at state universities, regardless of their immigration status, if they graduate from Oregon high schools and meet other conditions.

The Senate passed similar bills in 2003 and 2011, but both died in the House. This time, the House initiated it, and both chambers passed House Bill 2787 and the governor signed it two months into the 2013 session.

One of the celebrants was Hugo Nicolas, a 2011 graduate of McNary High School, who said the bill will make it possible for him to attend the University of Oregon.

“This means there is hope that students like me can get out and contribute to their community,” he said.

The other bill was for people to obtain four-year driver’s cards, half the eight-year driver’s license, if they passed the driving-skills and knowledge tests but could not prove legal presence in the United States.

Lawmakers had made the latter a condition in 2008 to comply with a federal law governing the use of state licenses as identification for federal purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft or entering federal buildings. The federal law, however, allows states to issue alternative identification for drivers.

A similar proposal failed to advance past a Senate committee two years ago. But backed by a coalition of business groups, Senate Bill 833 became law in a single month — and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it into law at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps.

“We shared all the stories of all the families who are affected” by both bills, Guerra said, and his group will follow a similar strategy in an attempt to persuade Oregon’s congressional delegation to back federal immigration-law changes.

However, opponents of both state bills have not given up, although they are concentrating their efforts on just one of them.

Opponents have launched a campaign to gather the 58,142 voter signatures required to put the driver’s-card law to a statewide vote. They have 90 days after the Legislature adjourns — it would have been a deadline of Oct. 5 if the session had ended Sunday — to file the signatures with the secretary of state.

“We have had an amazing response,” said Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed the bill.

“I doubt there is a town in Oregon where somebody has not requested a signature sheet. A huge number of people are outraged by this bill to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses. There is no question in my mind that if we are successful in getting on the ballot, they will revoke this bill.”

If there are enough valid signatures, the law would be suspended — it is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 — and the statewide vote would coincide with the November 2014 general election, unless lawmakers choose an earlier date.

Washington and New Mexico issue licenses without proof of legal presence; Washington has an “enhanced” license valid for federal purposes that also can be used in travel to and from Canada. Illinois will issue three-year cards in the fall, and Utah issues cards that must be renewed annually.

The in-state tuition law, which took effect July 1, also can be challenged in court. The law provides for a direct review by the Oregon Supreme Court, although the justices can delegate someone to conduct fact-finding proceedings before they hear oral arguments on the legal questions.

Such a lawsuit must be filed by Aug. 29.

Although some witnesses at Oregon legislative hearings suggested there would be a lawsuit, a similar law in California was upheld by that state’s highest court in 2010 — and the U.S. Supreme Court declined in June 2011 to hear an appeal.

“The problem is that the Supreme Court has been unwilling to hear those lawsuits,” Ludwick said. He said state laws appear to contradict a 1996 federal law that bars in-state tuition for students without immigration documents, unless the state laws waive requirements for out-of-state residents.

Oregon joined about a dozen other states with similar laws, including Washington.

Racial and ethnic minorities scored legislative victories on other matters this session:

• House Bill 2517, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows full eight-year driver’s licenses to residents of three Pacific island nations — Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and Federated States of Micronesia — who are legally allowed to live and work in the United States. Under current law, these residents of nations associated with the United States have to renew their state licenses every year, because there is no limit on their stays.

• House Bill 2611 requires health professionals regulated by specific state boards to undergo training in cultural differences in providing medical treatment. This “cultural competency” training will be set by the Oregon Health Authority.

• Senate Bill 463. signed Wednesday and taking effect Jan. 1, will require the state Criminal Justice Commission to analyze how criminal sentencing and child welfare legislation may affect racial and ethnic minorities if requested by two legislators, one from each party. The law is modeled after a 2008 Iowa law.

However, House Bill 2661 remained in the budget committee, although it did have two hearings. It would have required the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a study of the interaction of police with racial and ethnic minorities.

pwong@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6745 Read more about Immigration issues affected by '12 election

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