SALEM, Ore. — Undocumented immigrants in Oregon may soon be able to legally drive under a measure headed to the governor’s desk.
The Senate voted 17-10 on Saturday to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a non-commercial driver’s license, driver’s permit, or ID card without providing proof of legal residency. Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill.
Once made into law, Oregon will become the 14th state to allow undocumented immigrants to drive.
The bill has been largely backed by pro-immigration reform groups that say undocumented immigrants mostly live in rural areas in Oregon where having a car is a necessity. Many living in those areas say they fear being deported over a traffic stop.
Opponents of the bill argue that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally would make Oregon streets less safe. They say the measure should instead be sent to voters to decide on.
Oregon previously was one of eight states that issued driver’s licenses to immigrants without proof of residency. In 2008, Oregon lawmakers reversed the law (Senate Bill 1080) to comply with the federal government’s Real ID Act, which set minimum standards for all state-issued identification soon after 9/11. The enhanced identification cards must be presented to board a domestic flight without a passport or to enter federal buildings.
Lawmakers reversed the law again in 2013 but it never took effect because opponents of the law, including Oregonians for Immigration Reform, were able to place the issue on the ballot (Measure 88) and Oregonians voted to not give driving privileges to residents who could not or did not want to prove they were legally living in the U.S.