Oregonians are headed for a statewide vote on a new law that allows immigrants who can’t show they’re in the United States legally to obtain driver’s licenses.
Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office in October said that opponents of the law submitted enough signatures to put a referendum before voters in November 2014. And as a result, the law won’t take effect as scheduled Jan. 1.
The law would grant four-year restricted licenses to drive but not to vote, board a plane, get government benefits or buy a firearm. The licenses would be marked “Driver’s Card.”
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved the bill with bipartisan support, and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it.The law was aimed mainly at the tens of thousands of immigrants living in Oregon who lack legal status. Others also could apply, including homeless people and veterans who lack the proper documents to get a regular license. All applicants must pass a driver’s test and provide proof of Oregon residency.
Referendum sponsors say the law rewards illegal actions and might encourage more people without legal documents to come to Oregon. But supporters say the law would reduce the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers in the state.
Thirteen states, including Oregon, now have laws that allow immigrants to obtain a driver’s license or driving privilege card, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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