PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6 and AP) –Residents living in Oregon illegally will not be eligible for drivers’ cards.
It is the first time that voters in any state weighed in on the driver’s license issue.
The law would have allowed immigrants and others to apply for drivers’ cards that could not have been used to vote, board a plane, get benefits or buy firearms.
KOIN 6 political analyst Jim Moore said the fate of Measure 88 represents a law, passed in the legislature, being killed by voters.
The measure was agreed upon by most politicians in the Legislature: Democrats and Republicans from rural-agricultural, suburban, and urban areas all supported it. But, even in heavily Democratic Multnomah County, it failed two-to-one.
More than $600,000 was invested in the “yes” side, while under $100,000 was invested in the “no” side.
WHAT MEASURE 88 SAYS:
The measure asks voters to accept or reject a state law signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber last year that would grant four-year licenses to Oregonians who can’t prove legal status in the United States. To qualify for the driver’s card, a person would have to present a valid foreign passport or consular document and proof of state residency.
WHAT PROPONENTS SAY:
Proponents say issuing the licenses would increase safety by prompting more people to learn the rules of the road and get insurance. “The law never considered it being anything other than for driving privileges,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and a member of the coalition to pass the measure. As for TSA rules, Stone said: “All we can control is the Oregon law.”
WHAT OPPONENTS SAY:
Opponents say the driver’s cards would reward illegal behavior and facilitate crime. “In essence, a driver card would become acceptable just like a regular Oregon driver license,” Oregonians for Immigration Reform said in a statement. “With the threat of international terrorism, the spread of ebola and other third-world diseases, it’s vital to take all possible precautions in the control of immigration.” But the group’s founder Jim Ludwick concedes: “We don’t know the fine points of the TSA regulations.”
WHAT STATE OFFICIALS SAY:
“The Oregon Supreme Court, after hearing from proponents and opponents, certified that the ballot summary accurately reflected the text of the measure,” said Tony Green, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. Green said enforceability of a state statute gets addressed after a measure passes.
If Measure 88 passes, travelers would be able to use driver’s cards to get onto an airplane — but they could board anyway with a foreign passport.
A brief history of Measure 88
The measure, which asks Oregonians to reaffirm the law passed by the legislature last May, collected 58,291 valid signatures — just over the required amount to put it on the ballot.
Oregon denied giving the licenses five years ago, but reversed course last year as it joined seven states in granting the privilege. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the law at a May Day rally at the state Capitol in front of a cheering crowd of 2,000 supporters.
The law was on track to granting the first licences to illegal immigrants in January, until it was put on the November ballot. In opposition to the driver’s cards stand 28 of Oregon’s 36 elected sheriffs and several Republican politicians.
Oregon holds the record for the most statewide initiatives in the nation.