Over 3000 Oregon Residents gathered at the State Capitol during a legislative hearing in Salem today to protest new rules that will deny licenses to undocumented immigrants. With hundreds on the steps of the Capitol, three rooms were filled to capacity with people watching the hearing on closed circuit TV.
The hearing was conducted by the Oregon State Senate and House interim Transportation Committees to discuss the proposed legal presence requirement to Oregon driver's licenses set to be put in place next month. The vast majority testifying at the hearing today were opposed to the new rules.
The new license restrictions comes from an executive order Governor Kulongoski signed in November allowing the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles to limit documents accepted from immigrants. Currently under Oregon law, all residents of Oregon, regardless of legal status, can obtain a driver's license.
Among the testimonies, concerns were raised about the threat to public safety and security if licenses are denied to immigrants. While others discussed consequences to Oregon’s economy if immigrants can’t drive to work, and how families will be affected when the restrictions are put in place in February.
This afternoon’s hearing is the first of several scheduled leading up to the implementation date of the Governor’s new ID plan. The next hearing is scheduled for the 22nd of January.