SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning View Alerts

Oregon advances bill allowing undocumented immigrants to drive

The measure, known as the Equal Access to Roads Act, would expand driving privileges to all Oregon residents regardless of their immigration status.

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 2:17 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2019 2:17 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Undocumented immigrants may soon be able to drive in Oregon after the House voted 39-21 Tuesday to remove proof of legal status as a requirement for obtaining a driver's license.

The measure, known as the Equal Access to Roads Act, would expand driving privileges to all Oregon residents regardless of their immigration status. Applicants would still have to show they live in Oregon and pass the driver's test to get a license.

Supporters said the move would make roads safer and lead to less hit-and-run accidents and encourage more drivers to purchase auto insurance. Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, a Democrat from Woodburn, said that many undocumented immigrants without licenses can't find work and are barred from doing "everyday activities" out of fear that they would be deported over a traffic stop.

"Not having a driver's licenses means that people cannot take themselves or their kids to the doctor's office or get the medication they need at the pharmacy," she said. "Imagine the pain and frustration that parents must feel when they can't do that simple task, a simple task like going to the grocery store."

The plan still needs Senate approval but, if passed, Oregon would join over a dozen other states and the District of Columbia in allowing undocumented immigrants to drive. This week, New York became the 13th state to approve such a measure. New Jersey is also considering the idea.

The move comes as Oregon prepares to implement the 2005 federal Real ID Act, completely overhauling the state's identification system. Beginning in July 2020, in addition to standard driver's licenses, Oregon will begin formally rolling out new security-enhanced identification cards that will be necessary to enter federal buildings and board a domestic flight without a passport.

Supporters of the Oregon bill say that legal status shouldn't be a requirement for standard licenses, which are considered "non-compliant" with new federal regulations.

Proof of legal status is required for Real IDs, and the Department of Homeland Security has ruled that it would allow states to issue non-compliant driver's licenses to applicants for whom "lawful presence is not determined."

Licenses for undocumented immigrants isn't a new concept for Oregon. For years, the state was only one of eight in the nation to grant licenses to those who couldn't prove legal status. Lawmakers initially reversed the practice in 2008 to comply with federal ID laws, then backtracked and voted to reinstate licenses for undocumented immigrants in 2013.

But that 2013 law never took effect, because opponents were able to put the issue to the ballot. Oregon voters overwhelmingly repealed the measure 66% to 34%.

Repealing the bill this time will be much harder thanks to the measure's emergency clause that would make the measure immediately law upon passage, something Republicans opposed.

"Let's keep our system of documentation honest, real and responsive to the wishes of the people," said Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Independence. "Let's continue to insist that we only issue documentation to people that are in the country legally."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206851

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40371614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18932235
Lane13908164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001882
Umatilla859387
Linn561181
Yamhill478279
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas388483
Malheur361463
Josephine360672
Benton326522
Jefferson237039
Coos216637
Columbia192129
Union149924
Wasco144430
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121633
Morrow115416
Clatsop10589
Baker101115
Curry71011
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3809710

Reported Deaths: 63356
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124774424456
Riverside3016684627
San Bernardino2992894845
San Diego2818103771
Orange2730575113
Santa Clara1201632188
Kern1107991404
Sacramento1078211736
Fresno1029471724
Alameda896591277
Ventura816611031
San Joaquin747271440
Contra Costa70730813
Stanislaus634971070
Tulare49776849
Monterey43836432
San Mateo42681581
San Francisco37269556
Santa Barbara34613455
Solano33762266
Merced32313478
Sonoma30884317
Imperial28855741
Placer23589299
Kings23195247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16638245
Santa Cruz16246208
Marin14206230
Yolo14160212
Butte12668194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10396116
Napa1002680
Sutter9663113
Yuba648951
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573463
Nevada491975
Humboldt449948
Mendocino434050
Tuolumne421271
Amador374047
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239637
Colusa228418
Calaveras220756
Del Norte14588
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1160
Alpine890
Unassigned280
Medford
Partly Cloudy
92° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 89°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
92° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 89°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
92° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 89°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
Numerous Tuesday Thunderstorms
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events