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Friday, November 16, 2007

Immigrant Rights Groups Denounce Governor Kulongoski’s Executive Order

November 16, 2007

Erik Sorensen, Communications, CAUSA (503) 789-8213
Aeryca Steinbauer, Coordinator, CAUSA (503) 984-6816

Immigrant Rights Groups Denounce Governor Kulongoski’s Executive Order

Immigrants and allies urge Governor to abandon Executive Order that will harm public safety and erode community trust

Salem, OR— CAUSA, Oregon’s statewide immigrant rights coalition, denounces Governor Ted Kulongoski’s Executive Order #07-22 that would bar Oregon's undocumented immigrants from accessing a driver's license. Under the Governor's proposed order that he plans to issue today, DMV would limit the documents accepted to get a driver's license, eliminating documents commonly available to immigrants such as the Matricula card and foreign birth certificates. Presently under Oregon law, all residents of Oregon regardless of legal status can obtain a driver's license, an important public safety policy.

Currently, there are over 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, many of whom drive on Oregon's roads to get to work, buy groceries, and take their kids to school. As a result of the Governor’s proposed executive order, these drivers would not be allow to take drivers classes or pass driving tests, will not be able to get insurance, and will be more likely to be involved in a potentially fatal accident. Studies show that licensing drivers prevents accidents and insurance losses as drivers are tested, registered and photographed. Likewise, licensing and law enforcement agencies are better able to track unsafe drivers.

Restricting driver's license access also erodes community trust. Rather than increasing security, driver's license restrictions would result in a situation where immigrants fear discrimination and being reported to ICE. They therefore would avoid contact with law enforcement and are less likely to report crimes and assist local law enforcement fight criminal and terrorist activity. This decreases community trust and infringes upon efforts to fight crime and save lives.

“Denying licenses to immigrants is bad for public safety resulting in unsafe roads, high insurance rates and overwhelmed court systems.” said Aeryca Steinbauer, Coordinator of CAUSA. “Rather than increasing security, immigrants who fear discrimination and deportation will avoid contact with law enforcement and will be less likely to report crimes and assist local law enforcement in fighting criminal and terrorist activity. We urge the governor to rescind his order.”

Upon hearing the news of Governor Kulongoski’s action to deny licenses to immigrants on Wednesday, CAUSA and allies generated thousands of contacts urging the Governor to reconsider.



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