Voters deserve a say on 'driver cards'

Letter date: 
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Letter publisher:
Letter author: 
Cynthia Kendoll
Letter body: 

Oregon lawmakers often take actions that benefit favored constituencies but harm the state overall. Citizens have the opportunity to overturn a glaring example of this: the recently passed state law — Senate Bill 833 — that grants “driver cards” to illegal immigrants.

A group organized as Protect Oregon Driver Licenses is working to refer SB833 to voters. If they collect the signatures of 58,142 registered voters by Oct. 6, the state’s November 2014 ballot will include a measure enabling Oregonians to annul the law.

Why should Oregon voters sign PODL’s referendum petition?

First: Illegal-immigrant driver cards undermine the rule of law. A stable, harmonious society depends on the law’s consistent application to both citizens and non-citizens. A government that enforces laws on citizens, but bends laws to accommodate those here illegally, will invite the contempt of both.

More, as noted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a driver-card law “conflicts with and frustrates the purposes and objectives of federal immigration law.” Driver cards encourage illegal conduct and are one more way for illegal immigrants “to sidestep the process and gain the same benefits” as immigrants here legally, thereby giving other foreigners wishing to come here “little incentive to pursue the legal paths to immigration.”

Second: Illegal immigrants, FAIR calculated earlier this year, hold some 120,000 Oregon jobs. These are not, primarily, harvesting jobs (only 4 percent of illegal immigrants, the Pew Hispanic Center has estimated, work in agriculture). Nor are they other jobs Americans reputedly “won’t do.”

They are jobs in food services, production, construction and building maintenance/groundskeeping — jobs occupied disproportionately by young and minority Americans and that often provide the first rung on the ladder to supervisory and managerial work. Driver cards enable illegal immigrants to compete for such jobs with Oregonians, of whom, in May, more than 146,000 were unemployed.

Third: One goal of illegal-immigrant driver cards, asserts Gov. John Kitzhaber, is to “improve traffic safety by reducing the number of unlicensed and uninsured motorists on Oregon roads.” But would they?

Senate Bill 1080, implemented in 2008, requires license applicants to prove U.S. citizenship or legal presence. Still, wrote Oregon DMV administrator Tom McClellan this year, SB1080 has “not had a major impact in the rate of unlicensed and uninsured driving.”

Any correlation between illegal-immigrant driving privileges, the number of licensed and insured motorists and road safety, concludes FAIR, “is tenuous at best.”

And last: “Thousands of undocumented immigrants,” notes the online Encyclopedia of Immigration, “work as couriers, smuggling narcotics into the U.S.” But if “a state trooper stops someone transporting illicit drugs and the driver presents” an Oregon driver card, writes Jim Ludwick, communications director of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, “the trooper may lack probable cause to search the car for contraband.” Driver cards could enable cartel-employed traffickers to operate here more easily.

Illegal-immigrant driver cards would undermine the rule of law, harm job-holding and job-seeking Oregonians (particularly youths and minorities), do little or nothing to ensure safer roads and abet drug cartels’ Oregon operations.

Go to to learn more. Then print and sign a single-signature petition and return it to the listed address.

Your support will help hold lawmakers accountable, strengthen representative government and ensure Oregon works to serve its own people first and foremost.

Cynthia Kendoll of Salem is an authorized agent for Protect Oregon Driver Licenses and serves as president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She can be reached at