state legislation

In political sea change, immigrants in the US illegally can get driver's licenses in Colorado

DENVER — Colorado will begin issuing driver's licenses and identification cards to immigrants Friday regardless of their legal status, underscoring a sea change in a state that less than a decade ago passed strict immigration enforcement laws.

Now, thousands of immigrants are waiting to get cards they hope will add a degree of legitimacy to their residency...

Last year, Colorado was among eight states that passed laws allowing identification documents for people in the country illegally. Two of those states, Illinois and Nevada, have already started issuing the documents. California plans to start in January....

"It's going to help us so that, for example, we're not put in the hands of immigration officials, so police don't view us as if we were criminals," she said in an interview in Spanish. "I think it's going to give us a valid identification to show police."...

The documents must be renewed every three years, and the cards will be marked to say they can't be used for voting or to obtain federal benefits.

In Oregon, one of the eight states that passed a driver's license legislation last year, opponents collected enough signatures to put the law on hold and ask voters in November whether it should be implemented.

  Read more about In political sea change, immigrants in the US illegally can get driver's licenses in Colorado

Vote NO in NOvember to stop this from happening in Oregon

Colorado passed a driver card bill last year, similar to the one passed in Oregon.  Unfortunately, the option of a citizen's veto referendum was taken away from the citizens of Colorado with the issuance of a 'public safety clause', similar to the over-used emergency clause here in Oregon.

Fortunately, Protect Oregon Driver Licenses filed a veto referendum and citizen activists from across the state of Oregon worked diligently to gather over 77,000 signatures so that the issue of granting driver cards to illegal aliens could be placed on the ballot allowing voters to decide if they want Oregon to go down this path.

Read about what's happening in Colorado and then remember to Vote NO in NOvember!


  Read more about Vote NO in NOvember to stop this from happening in Oregon

Non-Citizen Driver’s Licenses Bogging Down Colorado DMV

A new kind of driver’s license for non-citizens will soon be available but even before the Department of Motor Vehicles can issue them, advance requests are clogging up the system.

Tens of thousands of drivers in Colorado are calling the DMV to register for the new ID which is clogging the system.

Those licenses are the result of a law passed last year that aims to improve public safety by making sure every driver in Colorado, regardless of their legal status, has a license.

The law doesn’t take effect until Aug. 1 but the DMV began making appointments on Tuesday for applicants. In the first day they scheduled 823 appointments, by phone and online; that’s more than 100 per hour. Thousands of others were not able to get through.

“I try and try and try,” said America Carbajalo, a driver who tried to call to make an appointment for applying for the new non-citizen licenses.

Those without a Social Security number, including illegal immigrants, are eligible for driver’s licenses or identification cars if they can prove they live in Colorado, have been paying taxes and have applied for citizenship.

In order to comply with federal law, the cards are marked “Not Valid For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes.”

“I think they didn’t understand how important this is to the immigrant community, didn’t anticipate people chomping at the bit to get driver’s licenses and do things the right way,” said Gabriela Flora, who helped get the law passed.

She said the DMV expected 45,000 applicants the first y ear but it will likely be double that.

Carbajalo, a native of Mexico, has been waiting 16 years to drive her granddaughter and isn’t about to give up.

“I try everyday. I need an appointment. I need my license,” said Carbajalo.

Read more about Non-Citizen Driver’s Licenses Bogging Down Colorado DMV

Massachusetts Committee Defeats Illegal Alien Driver's License Bill

Legislation that would make illegal aliens eligible to receive driver's licenses and learner's permits in Massachusetts failed this session because of its lack of support among constituents and within the Massachusetts legislature. Last week, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation voted to send House Bill ("H.B.") 3285 to study, effectively killing consideration of the legislation this session. (Boston Globe, Jun. 24, 2014).

H.B. 3285 would have removed the provision in Massachusetts law that requires an applicant to provide a Social Security Number for proof of identity in order to receive a driver's license or learner's permit. (H.B. 3285) The bill would have also prohibited the registrar of the Department of Motor Vehicles from denying a driver's license or learner's permit to any person who fails to provide evidence of immigration status. (Id.)

Massachusetts Representative Marc Lombardo, who represents the 22nd Middlesex District, opposed H.B. 3285 because he believes the legislation would create a "magnet" by encouraging illegal aliens to move to Massachusetts, and serve as a shield against the enforcement of federal law. (MassLive, Mar. 11, 2014) "To give identification to those who are illegally here allows our ID to essentially mean nothing. It becomes a form of ID that allows those that are illegally here to hide in society with those who are legally here," said Representative Lombardo. (Id.)

Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore, who represents the Worcester and Norfolk District, also opposed H.B. 3285. "I don't think it will make the roads any safer," Senator Moore said. "The individuals who are here violated the law to be here and remain here and I don't see how granting them licenses guarantees they'll obey traffic laws any better than they do immigration laws." (Telegram, Mar. 16, 2014) Senator Moore further noted, "Illegal immigration needs to addressed — not changing our laws at the state level to make someone who is here illegally, entitled to a privilege. Driving is a privilege." (Id.)

Legislators were not the only true immigration reformers to speak out against the bill. H.B. 3285 faced strong opposition during its hearing in March in the Joint Committee on Transportation by community leaders. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson was among those who testified against H.B. 3285. He said the proposal would reward people who violated federal immigration laws and warned that granting licenses would not mean safer roads. (Boston Globe, Mar. 6, 2014) "We are a country of laws," Hodgson told the committee. (Id.) "If we begin to tell people that we'll make exceptions for any group, then we have to honestly ask ourselves, do the laws really matter?" (Id.)

Massachusetts Senator Patricia Jehlen, a sponsor of H.B. 3285, advocated on behalf of the measure, arguing that immigration status should not be a bar to getting a driver's license or learner's permit. (WWLP, Jun. 23, 2014) "I'd rather everybody or more people on the roads who are driving have taken the test and having insurance." (Id.) However, there is little evidence to suggest illegal aliens who fail the driving test will not drive, since many claim to drive unlicensed already. Similarly, data from New Mexico, who has issued driver's licenses to illegal aliens since 2003, suggests that granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens would in fact increase the rate of uninsured drivers, not reduce it. New Mexico is now home to the nation's second highest percentage of uninsured drivers. (Insurance Research Council, 2011)

The defeat of H.B. 3285 marks a victory for true immigration reform. So far in 2014, eleven states have considered legislation that would enable illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses and identification cards, and none have passed.

  Read more about Massachusetts Committee Defeats Illegal Alien Driver's License Bill

Six year report: Criminal aliens incarcerated in the Oregon Dept. of Corrections

According to the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Inmate Population Profile dated May 1, 2014 DOC indicated there were 14,657 prisoners incarcerated in DOC’s 14 prisons (See attachment).

Not included in DOC’s May 1st Inmate Population Profile was DOC data indicating there were 1,133 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) incarcerated in its prison system (See attachment).

All 1,133 criminal aliens incarcerated on May 1st by DOC had United States (U.S.) Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detainers. The U.S. DHS–ICE is responsible for indentifying whether a DOC inmate is a criminal alien or a domestic inmate. If an inmate is identified as being a criminal alien, at U.S. DHS–ICE’s request, the DOC places an “ICE detainer” on the inmate that directs DOC officials to transfer custody to ICE following completion of the inmate’s state sanction.

Criminal aliens made up approximately 7.73% of the DOC May 1st prison population (See table).




DOC Total Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC % Inmates W/ICE detainers

May 1, 2008





May 1, 2009





May 1, 2010





May 1, 2011





May 1, 2012





May 1, 2013





May 1, 2014





Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

Comparing DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers from May 1, 2008 (1,070 criminal aliens) and May 1, 2014 (1,133 criminal aliens), the DOC prison system incarcerated 63 criminal aliens more than it did on May 1, 2008, a 5.89% increase (See table).



DOC Total Inmates W/ICE detainers

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Inmates W/ICE detainers % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

May 1, 2008




May 1, 2009




May 1, 2010




May 1, 2011




May 1, 2012




May 1, 2013




May 1, 2014







Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

When comparing DOC domestic criminal incarceration numbers from May 1, 2008 (12,544 domestic criminals) and May 1, 2014 (13,524 domestic criminals), the DOC prison system incarcerated 980 domestic criminals more than it did on May 1, 2008, a 7.81% increase (See table).



DOC Total Domestic Inmates

DOC Domestic Inmates # Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

DOC Domestic Inmates % Increase or (Decrease) from Previous Year

May 1, 2008




May 1, 2009




May 1, 2010




May 1, 2011




May 1, 2012




May 1, 2013




May 1, 2014







Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Unit-ICE inmates lists 01 MAY 08rtf – 01 MAY 14.rtf and Inmate Population Profile 01 MAY 08– 01 MAY 14.

Bringing the preceding numbers together, from May 1st 2008 – 2014, six years, the DOC prison population grew by 1,043 domestic and criminal alien prisoners; 6.04% of the overall growth was in criminal alien prisoners.

A review of the 1,133 criminal aliens in DOC prisons by number per county and percentage (%) per county equated to the following: 0-Baker (0.00%); 15-Benton (1.32%); 78-Clackamas (6.88%); 4-Clatsop (0.35%); 1-Columbia (0.09%); 5-Coos (0.44%); 2-Crook (0.18%); 0-Curry (0.00%); 19-Deschutes (1.68%); 5-Douglas (0.44%); 1-Gilliam (0.09%); 0-Grant (0.00%); 0-Harney (0.00%); 5-Hood River (0.44%); 49-Jackson (4.32%); 9-Jefferson (0.79%); 7-Josephine (0.62%); 8-Klamath (0.71%); 0-Lake (0.00); 58-Lane (5.12%); 9-Lincoln (0.79%); 28-Linn (2.47%); 12-Malheur (1.06%); 266-Marion (23.48%); 4-Morrow (0.35%); 275-Multnomah (24.27%); 1-OOS (0.09%); 17-Polk (1.50%); 0-Sherman (0.00%); 4-Tillamook (0.35%); 19-Umatilla (1.68%); 3-Union (0.26); 0-Wallowa (0.00%); 3-Wasco (0.26%); 195-Washington (17.21%); 0-Wheeler (0.00%); and 31-Yamhill (2.74%).

No member of the Oregon State Legislature should forget the uncounted crime victims and their families, no matter what their immigration status, all victims of the 1,133 criminal aliens incarcerated in DOC prisons.

A review of the 1,133 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers per crime and percentage (%) per crime equated to the following: 2-arsons (0.18%); 105-assaults (9.27%); 24-burglaries (2.12%); 14-driving offenses (1.23%); 175-drugs (15.44%); 0-escape (0.00%); 3-forgeries (0.26%); 146-homicides (12.89%); 47-kidnappings (4.15%); 57-others (5.03%); 176-rapes (15.53%); 67-robberies (5.91%); 207-sex abuses (18.27%); 93-sodomies (8.21%); 12-thefts (1.06%); and 5-vehicle thefts (0.44%).

Oregon State Legislators should not overlook the source of the preceding crimes, the country of origin of the 1,133 criminal aliens in DOC prisons.

The self-declared counties of origin of the 1,133 criminal aliens in the DOC prison population by numbers and percentage (%) per country equated to the following: 6-Canada (0.53%); 11-Cuba (0.97%); 15-El Salvador (1.32%); 7-Federated States of Micronesia (0.62%); 32-Guatemala (2.82%); 11-Honduras (0.97%); 6-Laos (0.53%); 918-Mexico (81.02%); 83-others (7.32%); 6-Philippines (0.53%); 9-Russia (0.79%); 12-Ukraine (1.06%); and 17-Vietnam (1.50%).

Beyond the DOC criminal alien incarceration numbers and incarceration percentages, per county and per crime type, or even country of origin, criminal aliens pose high economic cost on Oregonians.

An individual prisoner incarcerated in the DOC prison system costs the state approximately ($87.08) per day; the cost to incarcerate a prisoner increased ($2.27) per day in May 2014, a 2.67% increase from 2013’s cost of ($84.81) per day (See link).

The DOC’s incarceration cost for its 1,133 criminal alien prison population is approximately ($98,661.64) per day, ($690,631.48) per week, and ($36,011,498.60) per year.

Even taking into account fiscal year 2013 United States Federal Government State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) award of $2,146,935.00, if the State of Oregon receives the same amount of SCAAP funding for fiscal year 2014, the cost to incarcerate 1,133 criminal aliens to the DOC will be at least ($33,864,563.60) (See link).

None of preceding cost estimates for the DOC to incarcerate the 1,133 criminal aliens include the dollar amount for legal services (indigent defense), court costs, nor cost estimates to cover victim assistance.

An unfortunate fact, the State of Oregon is not fully cooperating with the U.S. DHS–ICE to fight crime committed by criminal aliens who reside in Oregon.

In year 2007, a United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) report titled “Cooperation of SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) Recipients in the Removal of Criminal Aliens from the United States, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General Audit Division, Audit Report 07-07, May 2007, Redacted-Public Version” identified the State of Oregon as having an official “state sanctuary statute,” ORS 181.850 Enforcement of federal immigration laws (See link).

The USDOJ, the federal governments top law enforcement agency, identified Oregon as a “sanctuary” for criminal aliens.

An Oregon law, Oregon Revised Statue 181.850 (ORS 181.850), Section (1), prohibits Oregon law enforcement (Oregon State Police (OSP), county sheriffs, city police departments) from asking immigration status of anyone residing in the State of Oregon “for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Under ORS 181.850, Section (2), Oregon law enforcement may exchange information with U.S. DHS–ICE . . . “in order to: Subsection (a), “Verify the immigration status of a person if the person is arrested for any criminal offense;” or, Subsection (b), “Request criminal investigation information with reference to persons named in records of the” U.S. DHS–ICE . . . (See link).

The State of Oregon should no longer be classified by U.S. federal government law enforcement as having an official “state sanctuary statute” for criminal aliens, nor should Oregon be a sanctuary for criminal aliens to kill, rape, maim or abuse Oregonians.

  Read more about Six year report: Criminal aliens incarcerated in the Oregon Dept. of Corrections

Feds reject design of driver's license for immigrants in U.S. illegally

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rejected California’s initial design for a driver’s license for immigrants in the country illegally, saying it is not distinguishable enough from permits given citizens.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will go back to the drawing board and redesign the driver’s license, according to Armando Botello, a spokesman for the agency.

“While we are disappointed by this ruling, the DMV will continue to work vigorously with lawmakers, affected communities and federal officials to design a license that complies with federal law and allows over a million undocumented California residents to drive legally and safely on state roads,” Botello said in a statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill last year that would provide driver’s licenses to those in the country illegally so they can drive to jobs and be required to take a test to show they are safe drivers.

The proposed design rejected by federal officials is different from a regular driver's license in two ways. Instead of the initials DL for "driver's license," it has the initials DP for "driving privilege" on the front. On the back, the license has a disclaimer saying it is not usable for federal purposes, which include identification for boarding a plane.

The notation says the document "does not establish eligibility for employment or public benefit."

The federal officials wrote that the Real ID Act requires markings “to allow Federal officials to quickly determine whether a license or identification card may be acceptable for official purposes” including “accessing Federal facilities, boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft or entering nuclear power plants.”

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and Sen. Ricardo Lara, chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus, wrote to the secretary of homeland security urging him to reconsider the rejection.

"I also would urge you to provide assurance that DHS will not seek or use information provided by driver's license applicants for civil immigration enforcement purposes," Steinberg wrote. Read more about Feds reject design of driver's license for immigrants in U.S. illegally

Undocumented immigrants win big with in-state tuition, law license votes

As students in the Senate gallery wiped tears from their eyes and the voice of the bill’s sponsor cracked, the Senate approved a measure Thursday that would grant in-state tuition to immigrant students brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Afterward, undocumented students, parents and supporters who had sat on the floor outside the doors to the Senate all week cried, pumped their fists in the air and took selfies with the Senate version’s sponsor, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

“I’m a big softy,” said Latvala, whose voice cracked during his final remarks before the vote. “This is a big deal. It’s one of the things we’ll remember the rest of our lives.”

Two hours after the vote Gov. Rick Scott held an impromptu press conference in the rotunda.

“It’s an exciting day for every student that dreams of a college education,” Scott said. Then, after thanking lawmakers, Scott took a quick swipe at Charlie Crist, his opponent in the governor’s race.” This corrects the wrongs of Charlie Crist.”

It was the second vote of the day in the Republican-controlled Legislature in support of immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

Earlier Thursday, the House approved legislation (CS/HB 755) that would allow the Florida Supreme Court to admit a Tampa man as a lawyer, even though he remains an undocumented immigrant, brought to the state from Mexico when he was 9 years old.

The court earlier this year declined Jose Godinez-Samperio’s bid to become a lawyer, citing a federal restriction. But justices also urged lawmakers to change state law to override the federal ban — a move set for a final vote today in the Senate.

The tuition bill (HB 851) similarly must return to the House for a final vote because of changes made in the Senate since the House initially passed it.

The politics behind the developments, though, may be rooted in the upcoming governor’s race. Polls show Scott doing poorly with Florida Hispanics.

A Quinnipiac University survey before the session began showed Crist holding a two-to-one lead over Scott with Hispanic voters. As a candidate in 2010, Scott campaigned in support of a tough, Arizona-styled anti-immigration law, but failed to pursue such an effort as governor.

Scott’s appointment of Carlos Lopez-Cantero as lieutenant governor earlier this year also was seen as an attempt to bolster the governor’s prospects with the key voting bloc in Florida.

House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale pointed out after the in-state tuition bill passed, that similar measures had been introduced in the Florida Legislature since 2002. Each year, ruling Republicans blocked it.

“We’ve tried to get this bill passed because it’s something we truly believe in,” Thurston said. “It’s not something that we’re doing because it’s politically expedient.”

The Senate voted 26-13 in favor of the tuition bill after an hour of impassioned speeches for and against the measure.

Speaking against the bill, Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville, asked the same question he posed during earlier debates: “Does being an American matter any more?”

“The laws aren’t being followed any more and we’re rewarding those who don’t follow the law,” Bean said. “We are giving so many benefits to non-citizens.”

Students wearing orange mortar board in support of the measure wiped away tears as Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, recalled her experience as a black fifth grader in 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation in schools and the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

“I never gave up my dream for equality,” Joyner said, addressing the students directly. “You are not to be blamed for wanting to be the best.”

The bill garnered unanimous support from Senate Democrats along with votes from several Republicans, including Sen. John Thrasher, R-Augustine, Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. Opponents of the bill included Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville and Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

The legislation that would help Godinez-Sampiero is narrowly tailored.

It would affect only someone who has lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, came to the country as a child, is authorized to work and has been issued a Social Security number.

For males, the potential Bar member also would have had to signed up for Selective Service, which Godinez-Sampiero has done.

Godinez-Sampiero, who graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 2011 and passed the Florida Bar exam and its moral character test, watched the House vote Thursday from the public gallery and later acknowledged that combined with the tuition bill, it made for a remarkable day.

“The Florida Legislature is clearly moving in the right direction, recognizing the importance of immigrants in this state,” said Godinez-Sampiero. “I believe we are number four in the nation for immigrants…we’re great contributors to the economy. And the Florida Legislature is recognizing that.”
  Read more about Undocumented immigrants win big with in-state tuition, law license votes

“Accident”? Oregon’s illegal alien “Carnivals of Crime” are back, offering health insurance and dancing girls

Dancing girls, driver’s licenses, health insurance, free food and information on Common Core were offered exclusively in Spanish at a local Portland school Saturday. The party like event for las familias, signals the return of what we used to call, “Carnivals of Crime” for illegal aliens. With the ‘revelation’ that illegal aliens have been ‘accidentally’ signed up for OrBamaCare, these kind of events once again take on added importance.

Citizen Journalist Daylight Disinfectant attended the Saturday event. See his video below.

The state of Oregon used to regularly offer these party-like events to offer Spanish speaking folks in Oregon (some of whom were legally here and some who were not), free stuff–including food stamps, medicaid and welfare.

Adorable little dancers.

Adorable little dancers.

They ended when Oregonians for Immigration Reform outed the practice–embarrassing state officials who were then excoriated for giving out hard earned American tax dollars to law breakers.

While there’s no doubt the Obama recession has caused many illegal aliens to head back to their home countries, it’s also true many illegal aliens have stayed in Oregon. It’s no “accident” that Cover Oregon and other state programs have attempted to sign them up.


  Read more about “Accident”? Oregon’s illegal alien “Carnivals of Crime” are back, offering health insurance and dancing girls

Oregon: House Votes to Hijack Ballot Title Process and Confuse Voters

On Thursday, the Oregon House of Representatives voted 36-24 to pass House Bill (H.B.) 4054, which would hijack the ballot title process established under Oregon law. If enacted, H.B. 4054 would not change the ballot process rules for all time, but instead make an exception to the normal process in just this one instance.

Representatives in the state House moved to change the process only after true immigration reformers and activists in the state were successful at getting a referendum added to November's ballot that would overturn the state's law that grants driver's licenses to illegal aliens. The activists worked for months to get the signatures, documents, and proper language approved by the Attorney General so that all Oregonians could vote on the issue. (See FAIR Alert, Oct. 29, 2013)

However, H.R. 4054 threatens to completely sabotage the work of Oregonians, whom these legislators claim to present. The bill would rewrite the state attorney general's certified ballot title, bill summary, and questions to be posed to voters for a citizen-initiated veto referendum scheduled to appear on the November 2014 ballot. The referendum asks voters to approve or reject Senate Bill (S.B.) 833 that was passed last year, which grants driver's licenses to illegal aliens. (Id.)

H.B. 4054 seeks to change the current ballot title in two major ways. First, it removes critical language regarding the very topic of the question voters are asked to decide. The ballot title and related language as certified by the attorney general clearly state that S.B. 833 grants driver's licenses to illegal aliens. In an attempt to confuse and sway voters, the House version passed on Thursday removes any mention of this fact. The ballot title and related language is often the only description that many voters see and can have a dramatic effect on how a person votes.

Then, to make matters worse, H.B. 4054 insulates itself from the veto referendum process and prohibits judicial review of the revised ballot title. Under current Oregon law, any voter dissatisfied with the ballot title certified by the attorney general may appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court. Indeed, several parties have filed objections with the court here. H.B. 4054 would void those appeals.

Many legislators oppose H.B. 4054 because they believe the bill undermines the very purpose of the ballot initiative process: offering voters a way to check on the legislative process. "We're tinkering with the process that was meant to get around us, the Legislature," Representative Jason Conger said. (The Statesman Journal, Feb. 28, 2014) "It's a slap in the face to those people who want to make their voices heard," said Representative Cliff Bentz. (Id.)

Legislators who support the rewrite argue that it is necessary to express their intent in passing S.B. 833. "The reasons we (passed the law) were for providing access so that people could drive licensed and insured," said Representative Jessica Vega Pederson. (The Oregonian, Feb. 27, 2014) "We want to make sure the ballot title reflects that intent. This is something we feel needs to be fixed." (Id.)

Several major newspapers in Oregon have come out in opposition to H.B. 4054. The Oregonian editorial board has pulled no punches, calling H.B. 4054 a "disguised marketing effort" that seeks to bury the truth. (The Oregonian, Feb. 25, 2014) "The Legislature's effort to write its own ballot title has nothing to do with accuracy. The effort, rather, betrays a belief that voters won't approve S.B. 833 if they know what it actually does. This fear may be well-founded, but that's no reason for lawmakers to debase their institution in this fashion." (Id.) The Bulletin has called H.B. 4054 "legislative overreach" attempting "to hide the issue and confuse voters." (The Bulletin, Mar. 2, 2014) The Statesman Journal has declared that "Legislators are mocking voters" and violating "the constitutional separation of powers" by interfering with the referendum process. (The Statesman Journal, Feb. 28, 2014) It recommends the Senate "deep-six" H.B. 4054. (Id.)

H.B. 4054 is now in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting consideration. If the bill passes the Senate, it must then be approved by the Governor before it can become law. Read more about Oregon: House Votes to Hijack Ballot Title Process and Confuse Voters

California Driver’s License Program Hits an Unexpected Hurdle

BELL, Calif. — The auditorium was packed. There were single mothers, day laborers, grandparents pushing infants in strollers and teenagers interpreting for parents. All of them faced a potentially life-changing prospect: Within a year, California will start offering driver’s licenses to immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

But one person after another stepped to the microphone and expressed fear that the licenses, far from helping them, could instead be used to deport them.

Last year, when California became the most populous state to pass a law permitting undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, advocates for immigrant rights were thrilled, saying it would allow people to commute without fear while also decreasing rates of hit-and-run accidents and uninsured drivers on the roads. Now those advocates are confronting another formidable obstacle: the deep and longstanding mistrust of the American government among this population.

It turns out that persuading immigrants who have spent decades avoiding the authorities to willingly hand over their names, addresses and photographs to the government is no easy sell — particularly since the licenses will look different from regular ones, in ways that have yet to be determined.

“I believe this license process is not secure,” one woman, who declined to identify herself, told state officials at an informational hearing here hosted by the Department of Motor Vehicles. “Is this a trap?”

“It’s not a trap,” said Ricardo Lara, the state senator who represents this working-class city, where more than 40 percent of the population is foreign born. State law guaranteed that their information would not be shared with other government agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said, adding, “Your information is protected.”

California, home to an estimated 2.5 million immigrants living in the country illegally, has been busy fashioning itself as the most welcoming state for immigrants, passing measures designed to reduce deportations, offering in-state tuition to all residents, and more. But skepticism among this population has grown since President Obama took office, as deportations have hit record highs and efforts to reform immigration laws have stalled in Congress.

Combating this mistrust, Mr. Lara said in an interview, is “the most significant challenge” of getting unauthorized residents — many of whom are already behind the wheel without licenses — to take road tests and buy auto insurance.

“People are skeptical, and rightfully so,” Mr. Lara said. “These are people who have been living in the shadows, living in constant fear. We have to work hard to ensure we really protect these folks.”


Atalia Cervantes, a mother of three who came here illegally from Mexico two decades ago, drives every day, despite her lack of a license.

“Every time I buckle my seatbelt, I am afraid,” said Ms. Cervantes, 30, who drove nearly an hour with her oldest daughter to voice her concerns at the hearing. “It’s affecting my girls. My youngest girl said: ‘Mommy, why are you so afraid of the cops? Cops are for protecting us.’ ”

Still, she was not sure if she would apply for a driver’s license. She worried that with it set to look different from those given to legal residents, it might lead rogue police officers to arrest people like her and call the immigration authorities, even though that is prohibited by law.

“If they write something on the back of the license that says it can’t be used to deport me, then maybe I’ll get one,” she said.

A growing number of states across the country are beginning to face this same challenge of winning illegal immigrants’ trust. Last year, eight states joined New Mexico, Utah and Washington in extending special driving privileges.

Nevada began issuing “driver authorization cards” to immigrants in the country illegally at the start of this year, with the goal of reducing the number of untested and uninsured drivers on the road. Lines at Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles offices in January wrapped around corners. Through Feb. 10, more than 16,000 people had applied for driver authorization cards.


Despite the early rush of applicants, however, many immigrants were not convinced that the cards were safe, said David Fierro, a department spokesman.



A man held up his day labor identification card.Credit Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

“There is a high level of distrust,” Mr. Fierro said. “People were convinced that no matter what we were saying, once we had them in our system, we would pass their information on and someone would be there to round them up.”

“I don’t think that’s been completely dispelled,” he said. “Some are still waiting to see what happens with their friends who apply.”

Overcoming this distrust is essential to making sure the program works, Mr. Fierro said, since the point is to get unlicensed and uninsured drivers off the road. The state is optimistic: Nevada, with about 250,000 undocumented residents, hired 18 people to deal with the influx of immigrants seeking driving privileges.

California, home to about a quarter of all immigrants in the country illegally, is hoping for a much larger rush. State officials here expect 1.4 million people to apply for the licenses, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles will hire 1,000 new workers and open four temporary offices, which will serve only people seeking new licenses.

The agency has also been working with consulates to help people in California get identifying documents from their home countries, a requirement for anyone applying for a driver’s license; officials have not yet decided what documents will be accepted. Under the law, the state must begin issuing the licenses by next January.

Identification records can be expensive and difficult to obtain, especially for people who have not returned to their home countries in decades. Mr. Lara said he hoped the state would also accept less formal proofs of identification, like baptismal and marriage records from churches.

At the meeting here, many people came with identification cards from day laborers’ associations, immigration rights groups and other local groups they belonged to, hoping that would be enough.

Critics argue that this approach would invite identity fraud. In New Mexico, which has issued driver’s licenses to unauthorized residents since 2003, state officials have complained about such fraud, prompting some Republicans to call for ending the program.

“It would be a sham for the state to represent that they’re actually able to verify identity looking at things like baptismal records or Sam’s Club cards,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington. “This process is an exercise in providing documentation to people whose legitimate identities cannot be ascertained.”

Andrea Guadarrama, a housekeeper and grandmother of eight who lives in Los Angeles and attended the hearing here, said she worried about what the new licenses would look like.

“I’m concerned about the mark that will go on our licenses,” she said. “We are already marked by our color and our names, and the police are against us.”

Even so, Ms. Guadarrama said she planned to apply for a license as soon as she was able. For now, she takes the bus from her apartment downtown to work in Santa Monica, a ride that can take up to three hours.

She did not know how or where she would get the documents she needed to prove her identity — after 27 years in the United States, she said, she no longer has her birth certificate from Mexico — but said she would do whatever was necessary.

“Oh, my God. If I had a license, I could make more money, see my grandkids more,” she said. Read more about California Driver’s License Program Hits an Unexpected Hurdle


Subscribe to RSS - state legislation