CAUSA Oregon and the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs are pressing the Legislature to take up a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants access to an Oregon driver's license.
The measure, Senate Bill 845, would remove barriers created by the Legislature in 2008 and let undocumented immigrants legally drive and also buy insurance. However, the bill specifies that the licenses will not will not be considered valid ID for other purposes, according to Jose Ibarra, a representative for the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs.
"People have seen the unintended consequences of [the 2008 legislation]," said Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA. "Oregon needs to have a labor force that has a driver's license."
The advocacy groups held a press conference Wednesday that included state Reps. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) and Ben Cannon (D-Portland). The two lawmakers emphasized that the bill is not just an immigration issue, but one of public safety.
"It's a fact that unlicensed drivers are more likely to flee from minor traffic violations and traffic collisions," Jenson said. "Legal residents are seriously impacted by current law."
Other backers of the bill, which was submitted Feb. 17, include state Sen. Chip Shields and Rep. Tina Kotek (both D-Portland).