Don’t create loopholes for driver’s licenses

Letter date: 
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Letter publisher: 
The Bend Bulletin
Letter body: 

Oregon requires that a person who wants a driver’s license has to provide proof of legal presence in the United States.

Is that asking too much? We don’t think so.

Protesters came on foot from Portland recently and joined others at the state Capitol to pressure Gov. John Kitzhaber to allow undocumented immigrants to get an Oregon driver’s license.

The protesters pointed out a truth. Jayme Limon, who led the rally, said not having a driver’s license can make it hard for people to hold jobs, get their children education and get health care, according to Salem’s Statesman Journal.

Kitzhaber vowed earlier this year to look into a way to change the law. A handful of states have alternatives. Washington and New Mexico issue some licenses with no proof of legal presence. Utah has a card that allows driving, which must be renewed each year.

Most states changed to more stiff requirements for a driver’s license in reaction to a change in federal law after 9/11. Federal law does allow, though, for states to issue identifications that are clearly marked as invalid for federal identification. So, Utah’s driving privilege card could allow someone to drive legally but would not be valid identification for boarding a plane or entering federal facilities.

The question for Oregon is whether it should do the same.

The protesters are essentially arguing that undocumented immigrants are eager to comply with laws if they could be rewritten to help them, but not eager to comply with laws for being in the country legally.

Oregon should not be in the habit of doling out benefits to accommodate the choices of people breaking the law.

Yes, there is a failure by Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform. Congressional failure does not mean Oregon should knit loopholes.