Driver privilege licenses for illegals
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 12:29 PMFrom: “Oregonians for Immigration Reform”
OFIR members and supporters:
Last night the Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 845, (Driver privilege cards for illegal aliens). Proponents of giving driver licenses to illegal aliens tried to paint it as a human rights issue, a safety issue, a “for the kids” issue and a “people who play by the rules” issue. They also claimed that while thousands of “undocumented” workers toil at low paying jobs they pay billions of dollars in taxes. What nonsense!
Many of the proponents admitted that they were in country illegally and needed a driver license in order to be able to drive to work. They demand all of the privileges of American citizenship while flaunting their contempt for U.S. immigration laws.
Testifying in favor of giving a special driving license to illegal aliens were:
Senator Chip Shields (D-Portland) (503) 986-1722 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Chris Harker (D-Beaverton) (503) 986-1434 email@example.com
Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland) (503) 986-1446 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) (503) 986-1444 email@example.com
Senate Bill 845 is a slap in the face to American citizens and legal immigrants.
The most important document that a drug smuggler can possess is a state driver license. It gives Mexican and Central American drug cartel members the ability to circulate freely in this country peddling their illicit drugs, with all the horrible consequences now plaguing Mexico. Senate Bill 845 says welcome to the international drug trade.
Latinos turn out to back bill as route to driving privileges.
Lawmakers hear strong pros and cons on a license for those who lack legal residency in Oregon.
By Harry Esteve, in The Oregonian, April 19, 2011
SALEM — The explosive issue of undocumented immigrants and driver’s licenses returned Monday to the state Capitol, where speakers faced off in a sometimes emotional debate over a proposal to issue licenses to people who can’t prove they’re here legally.
Lawmakers are considering a bill to create an alternative license that could be used only for driving privileges and would not be considered an official identification card. It would not require proof of citizenship.
To set the tone, an immigrant rights group staged a rally that drew hundreds of mostly Latino families to the Capitol steps two hours before the hearing. They then packed into hearing rooms.
“We in the Latino community know how to exercise our rights,” said Francisco Lopez, director of Causa, which organized the rally. If legislators don’t make it easier for undocumented workers to get licenses, “they will face the anger of the Latino voter in 2012,” he said.
Sen. Chip Shields, D-Portland, the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 845, said it is a nod to reality.
Oregon, like many states, is home to thousands of workers who don’t have documentation that they are here legally, he said. Denying them driver’s licenses doesn’t make them leave. Instead, it ensures they don’t take driving tests and don’t buy insurance.
“This is all about public safety,” Shields told the Senate Transportation Committee. “I’d rather have people driving on the roads who are licensed and insured.”
Testimony included tearful statements from parents of children with special needs, who say they must have a license so they can drive their children to services.
But supporters of the bill were countered by an equally loud contingent of critics, who said it would fly in the face of state and federal law, and be a slap to legal residents.
“I’m surrounded by people who profess to be foreign nationals here illegally,” said Cynthia Kendoll, a Salem resident who testified at the evening hearing. She said the state should be more concerned about the 200,000 people in Oregon legally and out of work.
“Why are you attempting to pass a bill that is likely to attract even more illegal aliens to our state?” Kendoll said.
If passed, the bill would roll back tighter requirements the Legislature put in place three years ago in response to federal concerns about terrorists entering the U.S. At the time, Congress was looking to enforce its 2005 Real ID Act. States were warned their licenses would be invalid for such things as boarding airplanes if they didn’t impose tighter restrictions.
Since then, the deadline for complying with the act has been pushed back several times, most recently until 2013. States, wrestling with billion-dollar budget deficits, have put the issue on a back burner.
Jose Flores, a Gervais resident who attended the rally, illustrates the problem Shields sees. “My license expired a month ago,” Flores said, but he still needs a car to get to his farm job near Silverton, where he drives a tractor and a truck.
He said he has been in Oregon for 15 years, after emigrating from Mexico when he was 18. He has since married and has three children.
The bill is the second one that has attracted big turnout from Latinos. The other, which remains in committee, would offer in-state college tuition to children of undocumented workers.
Shields said he doesn’t expect his license bill to go much beyond Monday’s hearing. But he wanted to give the issue some prominence in hopes that he can make progress on it next year.