Oregon governor committed to permitting illegal immigrants to drive

| 11/16/2007

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he still is in favor of making it more difficult for people to get licenses to drive in the state and elsewhere, even though New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has dropped a similar proposal from consideration.

Kulongoski is calling for limiting the issuance of driver’s licenses only to people who can prove they are in the state legally. At the same time, he wants to allow illegal immigrants the ability to have driving privileges.

The licensing of drivers is expected to be a topic for consideration during a special session set to begin in February 2008. The Oregon Legislature doesn’t meet in regular session until 2009.

Currently, applicants for an Oregon driver’s license can obtain the document without presenting proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.

Kulongoski said he is sympathetic about the problems the proposed requirements would create for workers “who do not have a legal presence in the state” and their employers, The Associated Press reported.

But the governor said the proposal would bring the state into compliance with new federal ID requirements that states adopt a national standard that includes linking their driver’s licensing records to national databases. Congress approved the Real ID Act in 2005.

The license for those who provide proof of “legal presence” would be valid at airports, banks and other locations that require identification. Individuals who cannot provide proof of their legal presence could use the other license only for driving. It would be stamped “not for identification.”

In addition to help guard the nation against terrorist attacks, Kulongoski said compliance with the Real ID Act would help curb identity thefts.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oregon in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor