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Governor Plans To Reduce Illegal Aliens' Access To Licenses

Governor Ted Kulongoski announced Thusday that he plans to sign an executive order that will have the effect preventing people who are in the country illegally from getting drivers' licenses.  Colin Fogarty reports.

Oregon is one of seven states that do not require people filing for drivers licenses to prove legal residency.

Activists opposed to illegal immigration plan a ballot  initiative to change the law.  But a new executive order by the governor would have the Department of Motor Vehicles to change administrative rules.

Kulongoski doesn’t have the legal authority to require people to prove their legal status.  But his general counsel David Reese says the governor does have the ability to limit which documents are required to get a drivers' license.  Reese says the change is not aimed so much at illegal immigration, but at fraud in general.

David Reese:  "The fraud I’m talking about is committing a fraud on DMV to get a driver's license that somebody’s not entitled to obtain.  Somebody who is not a resident of Oregon isn't entitled to receive a drivers license or identification card from the Oregon DMV.  What we’re concerned about is that people are coming to Oregon, using fraudelent documents and doing just that."

Reese says the executive order tells DMV to develop rules about which documents are required to get a drivers license.  That will take a few months and he says it will bring Oregon in line with other states.

David Reese: "First and foremost, anybody who has a social security number will be required to give the social security number and the DMV will verify that social security number with the Social Security Administration."

Anybody without a social security number — say a legal immigrant who is not yet a citizen — will have to prove their status with a passport or immigration document.

What will no longer be allowed is a Matricula Consular which is an ID card issued by the Mexican Consulate in Portland.

This new change is good news to activists opposed to illegal immigration.

Jim Ludwick, with the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform says he’s been asking the governor to make this change for several years.  But he says he’s still pressing ahead with his ballot measure to change the law.

At the other end of the immigration debate, Aeryca Steinbauer, with CAUSA, called the executive order a step in the wrong direction.  She said it puts road safety at risk because  undocumented workers — who need to drive to their jobs — won’t have the driver education required to get a license.

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