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Anti-Illegal Immigration Measure In The Offing

Activists opposed to illegal-immigration said Tuesday they’ll begin collecting signatures soon for an initiative for next year’s ballot. But as Colin Fogarty reports, they’re also demanding action from state lawmakers in Salem.

The initiative from Oregonians for Immigration Reform has three elements.

The measure would allow local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials, something they’re limited in doing now. But the group’s Jim Ludqwick stresses that the proposal would not force local police to work with the federal agency that used to be known as the INS.

Jim Ludqwick : "If Portland does not want to work with the INS, if they want to remain a sanctuary city and a draw for illegal immigration, they can do this under this initiative. However, if another community, let's say Canby or Marion County or Salem has a problem with illegal aliens and gangs, they can work directly with the INS if this initiative would pass."

Ludwick’s initiative has two other provisions though.

People registering to vote for the first time would have to prove they’re U.S. citizens. And the measure would require people applying for an Oregon driver's license to prove they’re in the country legally.

Oregon is one of seven states that does not require drivers prove "legal presence" before getting a state license valid for 8 years. The Congressionally approved REAL ID Act requires states to comply with federal standards for drivers licenses.

Republican State Representative Linda Flores of Clackamas held up an agenda of the House and Senate Transportation committees meeting upstairs in the capitol.

Linda Flores: "But I don’t see anything on their agenda for a meaningful discussion about moving forward to implement on the new federal law to secure drivers licenses for those of us who are here legally."

But the legislature is poised to take up at least one of the issues in the ballot measure Flores is backing: drivers licenses. Earlier this year, the Democratically-controlled House approved a bill that would bring Oregon in line with the Real ID act.

But the measure failed to pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold a bigger majority.

Senate transportation chair Rick Metsger of Welches says he plans to introduce a bill to require people prove they are in the country legally before getting a drivers license.

Rick Metsger: "And so what we have chosen to do is to recognize that we need to have a drivers license in which integrity is at the cornerstone of that and that around the country you can trust that the people who have that license are who they say they are."

But Metsger says he does not expect to pass a bill that includes all of the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act, which he says raises privacy concerns.

Metzger also predicted lawmakers will not go for an idea floated by Governor Ted Kulongoski – a two-tiered drivers license system, in which people who could not prove legal residency could still be allowed to drive.

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