Central Oregon

Applause, outcry over immigrant 'driver card' law

Temporary license legislation may be referred to ballot

Governor signs immigrant 'driver card' bill

SALEM, Ore. - To the cheers at a May Day rally at the state Capitol, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will allow undocumented citizens a chance to apply for a temporary driver's license.

Many immigration reform advocates are applauding the governor's move, but some critics say they're ready to fight it at the ballot box.

"I think it's good for the state, because we can pay them for insurance, and it's better,' said one rally attendee.

The new law allows immigrants living in Oregon illegally to apply for a temporary four year driver's license starting on Jan. 1, 2014. Four busloads of supporters from Central Oregon drove to Salem to celebrate.

"Just for us as a community, I think it's amazing," said Bend-based Latino community organizer Greg Delgado. "And it also gives an identity and a sense of security to our undocumented citizens, so we can move on with our lives."

State Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, voted against the measure, as did his Central Oregon colleagues.

"Identification documents like this driver's card are used by organized crime and criminal elements to create false IDs, open bank accounts and launder money," Conger said.

According to the state's website, the first requirement to obtain a license is proving legal presence.

Back in Bend, some of the many residents preparing to show their documents at the DMV were not happy with the new law.

"I need to renew my license, which I have to do every eight years," said one resident. "So I need my birth certificate, Social Security card and proof of address."

"I have to go through requirements, and I feel like everyone else should too," said another Bend resident. "And I'm a US citizen."

Already, a group with similar views said they are ready to fight at the ballot box to overturn the law.

"We need to gather about 58,000 signatures in the next four months" for a referral, said the organizer. "I think we can do that, if our phones are any indication of the upset this has caused."

All Central Oregon lawmakers voted against the measure. But several Republicans from agricultural areas in the state voted in favor, joining many of the state's Democratic lawmakers.

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