Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants: Is Oregon next?

Voters in Oregon will deciding on November 4 whether the state will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver card. Current state law requires…

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Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants: Is Oregon next?

Oregon could soon join the 10 states that already issue driver’s licenses, or cards, to undocumented immigrants. (Shutterstock photo)

Voters in Oregon will deciding on November 4 whether the state will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver card.

Current state law requires individuals to show proof of legal presence in the United States in order to apply for an Oregon driver license. If approved, Measure 88 would allow all Oregon residents, regardless of their immigration status, the ability to apply for a renewable four-year driver cards.

The measure would require drivers to pass the state’s driving test before they can be issued a driver card. The card would look similar to the state driver’s license but can’t be used as identification for air travel, to enter a federal building, to register to vote or to obtain government benefits.

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According to The Oregonian, rural voters may be the one ones who ultimately decide whether Measure 88 passes. However, it’s unclear which way rural voters will go given they are “sharply divided” on the issue — like are other voters across the state.

Take Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe and her husband Jim Roppe, two rural voters who don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue. Betty told The Oregonian she believes the roads in Oregon will be safer if more people pass the state’s driving tests and buy insurance.

“But my husband,” she told the newspaper, “just can’t comprehend how a person in the country illegally can have a driver’s license. So we have two totally different perspectives on this.”

The farming community in Oregon is one of the most diverse. It not only leads the nation on the production of a number of crops—like hazelnuts, blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries—but it is also a major producer of Christmas trees and nursery plants.

And like most farmers across the state, farmers in Oregon depend a lot on the labor of undocumented workers.

Andrea Miller, who heads a group that supports Measure 88, said agricultural businesses owners “understand the issue at a very practical level.” She said that’s because many of them hire undocumented workers to fill jobs that U.S. citizens are not willing to do.

“From the business perspective, they want their workers to be able to drive safely and legally to their jobs,” Miller said in an interview with VOXXI.

SEE ALSO: California OKs driver’s licenses for undocumented Immigrants

Supporters of Measure 88 say it would make roads safer by helping ensure more drivers pass the state’s driving test and get insurance. But opponents, led by Protect Oregon Driver Licenses, argue it is “wrong” to provide a driver card to people who cannot prove legal presence in the United States.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) is one of the opponents of the measure.

“I oppose granting Drivers licenses (cards) to people in the country illegally because you cannot uphold the rule of law by simultaneously carving out exemptions which undermine it,” he said in a statement.

Across the country, there are 10 states that already grant driver’s licenses, or cards, to undocumented immigrants. Miller said her group, called Causa Oregon, is working hard so that Oregon joins that list.

She said volunteers with her group have knocked on more than 30,000 doors since July and have found that voters are supportive of Measure 88 once they learn more about it. Still, Miller said she knows passing the measure won’t be easy given that a recent poll found that a majority of voters oppose it.

“It is definitely an uphill battle,” she said.

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