The Campaign Spot

Blue Oregon . . . Strongly Opposed to Driver’s Permits for Illegal Immigrants

Something to keep in mind for future immigration debates: Oregon — deep-blue, heavily Democratic, crunchy, progressive, let-me-pour-you-another-organic-quinoa-microbrew Oregon — appears set to decisively reject a proposal to provide driver’s permits to individuals who cannot prove legal residence in the state.

The driver cards would be issued by the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division. As with a driver’s license, the recipient would have to pass the state’s written driver knowledge test and behind-the-wheel driver test, provide proof of residence in Oregon for more than one year, proof of identity and date of birth.

Unlike a license, the recipient would not have to prove legal U.S. residency.

The pro-measure Yes on Oregon Safe Roads political action committee has raised about $421,000, a relatively small amount for a statewide campaign. Meanwhile, the main opposition group has raised just over $37,000.

Despite the lop-sided fundraising, recent polling suggests the ballot measure will lose, heavily. Sixty percent of likely voters polled by Oregon Public Broadcasting earlier this month said they firmly or tentatively opposed a driver card. Only 31 percent firmly or tentatively supported the measure, OPB said. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.

It appears a wide swath of the population does not like the idea of giving driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally. Even if someone doesn’t necessarily approve of mass deportation, they may be wary — or downright staunchly opposed to the idea of changing existing laws to make life easier for illegal immigrants.

You may recall that journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is not in the U.S. legally, recieved his first driver’s license in Oregon, applying there because the requirements for proof of residency were least strict in that state at the time. The state changed its laws in 2008.

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