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Published in the City Club of Portland Bulletin, Vol. 97, No. 2, August 6, 2014

Ballot Measure 88, if passed, would uphold Senate Bill 833 and allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver card to Oregon residents who cannot prove legal presence in the United States. To receive a driver card a person must meet all the requirements for an Oregon Driver License except proof of legal presence in the United States. Anyone may apply; however, most supporters and opponents of the proposal agree that the vast majority of applicants are likely to be undocumented immigrants.

Based on a review of literature and expert testimony your committee concluded that SB 833 was well vetted with citizens and organizations from across the state providing diverse perspective to the Legislature. While the state does not enforce federal immigration law, it is responsible for determining who may drive in the state in order to promote public safety. Driving privileges should be based on the ability to drive safely, know the rules of the road and obtain auto insurance, and not immigration status.

Your committee concluded that allowing undocumented residents to demonstrate competency behind the wheel by passing driving and knowledge tests would improve road safety. Although the data is scarce about whether driver cards increase the number of insured drivers on the road, not offering a driver card guarantees many Oregon residents would be unlicensed and, consequently, unable to procure auto insurance. Additionally, driver cards would not attract undocumented residents because our surrounding states (with the exception of Idaho) already offer driving privileges to undocumented residents. The availability of jobs seems to be the primary magnet for in-migration to any location.

Undocumented residents are a significant part of our communities and our economy. Giving them the opportunity to drive legally to work, shop, go to school, attend religious services, and access health care will strengthen Oregon communities and uphold City Club of Portland’s core value of inclusion - which includes “welcom[ing] the diverse voices of our community.”

Recommendation: The committee unanimously recommends a yes vote.

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