's effort to get tough on illegal immigration strikes the
as the equivalent of Hillary Clinton's convoluted efforts to be on both sides of the question over whether iilegal immigrants should get driver's licenses.
Last week, Kulongoski issued an executive order designed to stop people without Social Security cards from getting Oregon driver's licenses. The target? Illegal immigrants. (And terrorists, of course!)
Oregon, Kulongoski's office says, has become a "safe haven" for unqualified nonresidents seeking official U.S. identification cards. Until last Friday, Oregon was one of seven states that didn't require a valid Social Security number at the DMV.
There are three problems with his order, which comes on the heels of immigration flare-ups in the 2008 presidential campaign.
First, he offers no proof that Oregon is a "safe haven" for license applicants who don't live here. A state task force report in 2006 said the state was a magnet but appears to have dealt with the known cases of fraud. Sorry, Tío Teddy, remember the threat of WMD in Iraq? We'd like to see some evidence you're solving a real problem—not just covering fellow Oregon Ds' backsides heading into 2008.
Second, the evidence suggests Kulongoski is creating a new problem. Discouraging adults from seeking licenses makes roads less safe, not more. Without licenses, drivers can't get car insurance. But if their job depends on it, they may still get behind the wheel.
Third, Kulongoski is passing the buck. He says he supports giving driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. But his executive order makes it harder for the Legislature to take on that politically explosive task now that he's dealt with the easy part of directing the DMV to make these changes.
"He is convinced this is a problem that we have to deal with," says Kulongoski spokeswoman Patty Wentz. Our call? He's earned deportation to Rogueland.