Capitol demonstration supports reinstatement of drivers' licenses for undocumented immigrants

Article author: 
Peter Wong
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Article date: 
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
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Walkers from Portland joined others at the Capitol this afternoon to urge reinstatement of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in Oregon.

The group wants Gov. John Kitzhaber to take steps to reverse a 2007 executive order by then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and then written into law by the Legislature in 2008.

Jayme Limon, who led the rally outside the Capitol, said Kitzhaber has talked a lot about education, health care and jobs as his top priorities.

“Unfortunately for undocumented immigrants, not having a driver’s license affects all three – the education of children, the health of families and jobs for hard-working people,” said Limon, whose family moved from Portland to Vancouver, Wash., after Oregon lawmakers made legal presence in the United States a requirement for obtaining driver’s licenses and identification cards. Among acceptable documents for proof of legal presence are a birth certificate, passport or tribal ID.

Most states changed their standard for issuing driver’s licenses to comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, although the federal law does allow states to issue licenses that are marked as not valid for federal identification purposes.

Washington is one of two states that issue some licenses without proof of legal presence. The other is New Mexico. Utah issues a driving privilege card that must be renewed every year.

A group of walkers made their way from Portland to Salem over four days, ending Monday, to call attention to their cause.

They were among 60 people who rallied at the Capitol today before presenting petitions with 5,000 signatures to the governor’s office. Frank Garcia, Kitzhaber’s diversity director, met with a few of the petitioners.

Hundreds showed up at the Capitol on April 18, 2011, for a bill that would have allowed the state to issue licenses without proof of legal presence. But the bill did not advance.