JWA Blog

Ballot Measure 88 - Oregon’s “Driver Card”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

This will be the third in our series to explain ballot measures to you so you can have a better idea just exactly what these measures do, or don’t do as the case may be.

Ballot measure 88 is a tough one. Unless, of course you have your mind made up. I say that because there are strong opinions from many people on this issue. This is the so-called ‘Drivers Card’ measure. The ‘Yes’ side folks say it is, “viewed as a common sense, public safety measure designed to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of unlicensed and uninsured motorists on the roads.” The ‘No’ side is represented by two groups, “Oregonians for Immigration Reform and Protect Oregon Driver Licenses.”

In the 2013 Oregon legislative session SB 833 was passed into law and signed by the Governor. It makes four-year driver licenses available to those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States. It directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to issue limited-purpose, limited-duration driver cards to Oregonians who pass a driver’s test and provide proof of Oregon residency for a minimum of one year.

Opponents went out and gathered enough support to put the issue to a vote. So, simply put, if you vote yes, folks who can’t prove they are U.S. citizens will be allowed to get a driver’s license. A no vote will not allow those folks to drive legally in Oregon, as the present law states.

What a dilemma.

When I was a kid growing up in the Willamette Valley, we used to earn money by going out in the fields to pick strawberries, beans and even buck hay once we were a little older. Today, you know what kids do and it sure isn’t working in the fields. Consequently, growers have to find someone willing to do what was called stoop labor to harvest crops and help get them to market. Quite often farmers turn to laborers who are in the U.S. illegally. Those workers have to have some way to travel to their jobs. It is unlikely that you will see farmers weigh in on this matter because of the controversy that goes along with the whole issue.  There may be other examples, but the above is the first one that jumped into my mind. These people will be required to pass a driving test. The question is, will people comply or will they fear being sent back to their country of origin? The measure does deals with this, but still…..

We are a nation of laws, and as U. S. citizens, believe we must follow the law, or pay the consequences. Suppose I have what I believe is a good excuse for breaking a law. Not having insurance on my car for instance.  Or running that red light because I am late for an important appointment. Do I really think I’m not going to pay a penalty?

If you’re thinking this is an immigration issue, then shouldn’t Congress be dealing with it? Sure they should…. but they aren’t. Other states are grappling with this same subject. Some states allow driver cards while others don’t. I hope when you make your choice in November, you will take a long hard look at the issue from both sides.

Good luck!

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