state legislation

Immigrant driver's licenses signed in Colorado

DENVER (AP) — Immigrants living illegally in Colorado will be able to get driver's licenses under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper, adding the state to a handful of others that provide a legal way for immigrants to use the roads.

The issue has picked up momentum this year, with Oregon and Nevada passing laws in recent weeks, and Connecticut's governor expected to pass a measure that lawmakers approved last week.

Hickenlooper said he saw the proposal as a step toward changing the nation's immigration laws.

"I'm not trying to tell Congress what form that takes, any of the details, but we are moving in that direction, and this is something that's a first step," the Democratic governor said.

The bill was signed in private, before the governor signed several other bills in front of lawmakers and the media. But Hickenlooper's office said the private signing was simply because one of the lead sponsors was out of town.

"We weren't trying to downplay it," spokesman Eric Brown said.

Supporters of the bill argued that everyone on the roads should know the rules and be insured, regardless of their immigration status.

The licenses would be labeled to say they are not valid for federal identification and can't be used to vote, obtain public benefits or board a plane. Hickenlooper said immigrants should have licenses that allow them to drive to work, get insurance, and be identified in car accidents, while at the same time making clear they are not U.S. citizens.

New Mexico, Illinois and Washington state already grant driver's licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can't be used for identification. Nevada's bill, signed into law last week, requires immigrants to prove their identity with a passport or birth certificate, and the "driving privilege cards" must be renewed annually.

In Colorado, immigrants pass a driver's license test and prove they're paying state and federal taxes. They also must show an identification card from their country of origin. The licenses would be renewed every three years.

But opponents argued there's no way to verify the identities of immigrants with certainty, and they worried the licenses wouldn't necessarily lead to more people having insurance. Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg said he worried the proposal would encourage more people to come to Colorado illegally.

Colorado's bill takes effect Aug. 1, 2014. Legislative analysts who worked on the bill estimate that more than 45,000 immigrants will apply for licenses the first year.

Immigration group gears up for referendum on driver's card bill

An immigration group looking to overturn a recently passed law that allows residents without proof of legal presence to get driver’s cards ramped up their efforts Tuesday to bring the issue before Oregon voters.

Beneath a canopy outside the state Capitol, Oregonians for Immigration Reform officials passed out manila envelopes that included signature sheets for a referendum on Senate Bill 833.

The driver’s cards under the bill, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed in May, would last four years instead of the standard eight years. Driver card applicants must meet other requirements, including knowledge of traffic laws and driving skills.

Sponsors of the referendum efforts would have to gather 58,142 valid signatures and file them by Sept. 26, which is 90 days after the targeted adjournment of the 2013 Legislature. The law would be suspended instead of taking effect in January if enough signatures were gathered to force a statewide election on the bill.

“It’s a herculean task but I think that Oregonians are really angry that this (bill) was rammed through,” said Cynthia Kendoll, the president for Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

The group was also protesting a federal immigration bill that would provide undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Buttons that read “Stop Illegal Immigration” were scattered on a table.

Supporters of the short-term driver cards argue the bill is about increasing public safety on the state’s roads not about immigration. But opponents say the new law would just condone illegal behavior.

Republican Reps. Sal Esquivel of Medford and Kim Thatcher of Keizer, and Richard LaMountain of Portland, recently filed the referendum papers for the bill with the secretary of state.

Esquivel told about two dozen people gathered on the Capitol steps in the rain that he doesn’t think the bill will help increase public safety and lawmakers who voted for the bill aren’t upholding the law.

“We are a country of laws. If you break the law to come here. Why would we allow that?,” Esquivel asked.

He unrolled a lengthy list of requirements residents have to meet to get a standard driver’s license, arguing that U.S. citizens were being treated as second rate.

Thatcher also announced the introduction of House Bill 3535, which would direct the Oregon Department of Transportation to report annually on the effects of implementing the driver’s card bill.

If the driver’s card bill is overturned, House Bill 3535 would not take effect.

By about 12:30 p.m., the group had distributed about 40 packets to those interested in gathering signatures for the referendum efforts.

If their measure qualifies for a statewide election, it would appear on the November 2014 ballot, although lawmakers can provide for a different date.

Luis Guerra, acting executive director of Causa, an immigration rights association that pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 833, said the group is keeping a close eye on the referendum efforts.

Guerra said that the driver’s card bill got bipartisan support in both legislative chambers and should be viewed as a public safety issue.

“We realize that they have a lot of signatures they need to collect so we’ll prepare as we need to based on how much work we see them accomplish,” he said.

OFIR meeting June 1 at 2:00pm - SB833 Referendum, join us and learn more

Alert date: 
2013-05-17
Alert body: 

Don't miss this meeting!  If you have never been actively involved in the immigration issue, now is the time to jump into the pool.

Saturday, June 1 at 2:00pm, OFIR will host its quarterly meeting at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn, just across from Costco in Salem.

We will be discussing the just filed referendum on SB833.  "Protect Oregon Driver Licenses" will be collecting 58,142 valid signatures of Oregon's registered voters to force the issue of giving driver privilege cards to illegal aliens on to the ballot.  We think Oregon citizens should decide, with their vote, if this is what we want in our state.

Come and learn more about this destructive bill, how it was fast-tracked through the Legislature, how we can stop it and what YOU can do to help!

Bring your friends and pick up the supplies you need to collect signatures of your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.  We need your help NOW!

See you there!  Please remember to send in your signature sheets as you fill them.  We will also be collecting them at the meeting on Saturday.

How many filled signature sheets will you turn in at the meeting?
 

OFIR VP explains the flawed thinking behind SB833

Rick LaMountain is a gifted writer and has, once again, written such a clear headed article explaining why SB833 is not good for Oregon.  He explains the flawed and harmful thinking that went into the jettisoned legislation that went from first introduction to law in under one month.  Read Rick's article here.

Rep. Thatcher speaks out against SB833

Representative Kim Thatcher, a Chief Petitioner for the referendum campaign against SB833 expressed her concerns about the bill in a just published Guest Opinion.
 

From his blog to ours, Rep. Richardson speaks out

The Driver Card Bill (Senate Bill 833), passed the Senate, the House and has been signed into law by Gov. Kitzhaber.

I voted against issuing driver cards to those who cannot prove legal residency after learning the experience of other states where such laws have been tested. (Watch a video of my floor debate against Senate Bill 833 on YouTube.)

New Mexico’s illegal immigrant drivers’ law failed to achieve its goal of lessening the number of uninsured drivers. Investigations revealed New Mexico’s law was a magnet that attracted additional illegal immigration into their state. In addition, New Mexico’s governor says she wishes their law could be repealed — citing problems relating to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime and national security.

After several years, Tennessee repealed its driving certificate laws. Investigators discovered non-residents were being shuttled to Tennessee and driving certificates were being issued based on false residency documents and even bribery of government officials.

In short, the desire to help thousands of undocumented workers and their families be assimilated into Oregon society may be well-intended, but the new Oregon driver card may have unintended consequences. When states such as Tennessee and New Mexico have documented, widespread fraud and abuse of their driver cards, and have either repealed their laws or have a governor who wishes the laws were terminated, Oregon should beware.

Like it or not, the Oregon driver card law will become effective Jan. 1, 2014. Time will tell whether or not the Oregon driver card was good policy or fraught with negative unintended consequences.

Rep. Dennis Richardson

http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/southern-oregon-legislators/2013/05/03/why-i-voted-against-driver-cards/

 

Esquivel files to kill new driver's licence law

SALEM — Medford state representative Sal Esquivel and a fellow GOP legislator want voters to decide whether to overturn a new law that allows illegal immigrants in Oregon to obtain driver's licenses.

Esquivel, Rep. Kim Thatcher of Keizer and Portland activist Richard LaMountain with the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform are sponsors of a referendum submitted to the Secretary of State's Office Wednesday.

Referendum supporters will have to work quickly if they want to make the November 2014 ballot. They'll have to gather more than 58,000 valid signatures from registered voters within 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, but it would be put on hold until after the election if referendum proponents successfully force a vote.

Critics say the law rewards illegal actions and might encourage more people without legal documents to come to Oregon.

"If someone is willing to disregard immigration laws, what other laws are they willing to disregard?" Thatcher said last month.

Esquivel, the son of immigrants, questioned the value of the law in a May 1 story in the Mail Tribune.

"They broke the law getting in the country, broke the law working, broke the law driving and broke the law by being uninsured," Esquivel said. "... I don't see where the card makes them buy insurance. Let's face the facts. They're not going to buy it."

Supporters, however, say it would make Oregon's roads safer by reducing the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

"(The referendum) is trying to make this about immigration when this is a public safety issue about Oregon's roads," said Jeff Stone, director of Oregon Association of Nurseries and an architect of the law.

Stone said he's disappointed by the referendum, especially because the legislation passed with bipartisan support.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill last week before a throng of cheering supporters in front of the Capitol.

The law would allow tens of thousands of immigrants living in Oregon without legal permission to get driver's licenses good for four years, half as long as a standard Oregon license. Immigrants and others who don't have documents proving they are in the country lawfully, including elderly and homeless people, could apply for the driver's licenses if they've lived in Oregon for at least a year and meet other requirements.

The restricted driver's licenses could not be used to vote, board a plane or buy a firearm. The licenses would be marked "Driver's Card" to distinguish them from a standard Oregon license.
 

SB833 Referendum preparing for take off

Alert date: 
2013-05-10
Alert body: 

The final preparations are being completed as the "Protect Oregon Driver Licenses" referendum campaign is nearing take off.  Fasten you seatbelts!

Petition signature sheets are in their final approval stage and soon we will begin printing and distributing supplies.

If you are interested in helping to collect signatures, please click on the "contact us" link and sign up.  We are compiling a list of volunteers.

If you are interested, and are able to help financially, please do!  The expense to undertake such a project is great.  Any financial assistance you can give would be appreciated and would be put to very good use over-turning this destructive legislation.

Another suggestion, while we are dotting all the "i's" and crossing all the "t's" would be to write a letter to the Editor.  We would like to flood the papers with letters of support for this campaign.  For inspiration, visit the letters section of our website.

Standby for take-off!
 

Do you wonder what others think about illegal immigration? Check out OFIR'S letter to the editor link

Everyone has an opinion and one way to put it to good use is to write a letter to the editor of your local paper.

Be brief, be specific and be respectful.  A good idea is to ask someone else you know to read it before you submit it, to be certain there are no errors and that your intent is clear.

You can go to your newspaper's website and check out their policy for LTE's (letter's to the editor) regarding the word count limit, the best way and how often you can submit a letter, too. 

If you have a letter published, please share it with OFIR and we will post it on our website.

Don't know how to get started?  Check out some of these great letters!

Opponents will seek to force election on driver cards

Alert date: 
2013-05-01
Alert body: 

Hours after Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it today, opponents said they would seek to force a statewide election on a bill allowing four-year driver’s cards to those who cannot prove legal presence to obtain an Oregon driver’s license.

Sponsors would have to gather 58,142 valid signatures and file them by Sept. 26, which is 90 days after the targeted adjournment of the 2013 Legislature on June 28. If the referendum qualified for the ballot, voters would decide the issue in November 2014, although lawmakers could provide for a different election date.

“It’s a huge undertaking, but we do not feel Oregonians have been represented in this building,” said Cynthia Kendoll of Salem, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the chief group in opposition to Senate Bill 833. “Our goal is to make certain that people have the opportunity to vote on this.”

The referendum effort does not become official until the secretary of state certifies the process.

SB 833, which Kitzhaber signed at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps, would take effect on Jan. 1 if opponents do not get the required signatures. If they do, the bill would be suspended until the statewide vote.

Other than proof of legal presence in the United States, which lawmakers in 2008 made a requirement of obtaining a driver’s license, applicants for driver’s cards still would have to show proof of identity and date of birth, and pass written and driving-skills tests. Cards would be good for four years, half the eight years for a regular license.

Kendoll said lawmakers took barely one month to consider the bill. It was introduced on April 2, the same day that Kitzhaber signed into law in-state tuition rates for some immigrant students whose parents brought them into the United State illegally as children. That bill can be challenged legally in a suit filed with the Oregon Supreme Court, but House Bill 2787 is not subject to a referendum because an emergency clause is attached.

The House gave final legislative approval to it Tuesday on a 38-20 vote.

Kendoll’s group has launched previous efforts at ballot initiatives, which have a higher requirement for signatures, but none qualified for a statewide election.

Four other states have allowed alternatives to licenses meeting requirements of the federal Real ID Act: Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Those alternatives are authorized by federal law, but cannot be used for federal identification purposes, such as entering federal buildings or boarding commercial aircraft.
 

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