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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Causa Applauds Civil Rights Lawsuit Aimed at Restoring Driving Rights to All Qualified Oregon Residents

Press Contact: 
Andrea Miller, Causa Oregon Executive Director

Causa Oregon applauds the filing of today’s civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Measure 88, which overturned a law providing driver cards to all qualified Oregon residents. The Constitution establishes rights to equal protection and due process to all people that should not and cannot be taken away.

“The rejection of Measure 88 in 2014 did not eliminate the very real and very urgent need for driver cards in Oregon,” said Andrea Miller, Executive Director of Causa. “Oregon continues to be a state in which immigrant mothers and fathers cannot legally and safely drive to carry out every day activities like taking their kids to school, visiting the doctor’s office, or buying groceries.”

All over the state, thousands of Oregon residents have been harmed by the lack of access to driving privileges, including the Hernandez family. Anastasia is a Washington County resident and mother of four children. They are all U.S. citizens, but Anastasia’s husband is undocumented, barring him from applying for an Oregon driver license.

“He still has to drive because he’s our main income and without his income, we couldn’t afford to live,” said Anastasia Hernandez. “Our kids are very aware that Dad doesn’t have a license and what the consequences are. They’re always wondering if Dad will get back home, what will happen if he gets pulled over. Having a driver card would mean less stress, lower insurance premiums, more freedoms, we wouldn’t have to worry about going out, who’s driving and where, what time he gets home.”

Historically, Oregon has issued driving privileges to all residents who meet standard driving requirements, regardless of legal status. The Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that over 80,000 Oregon residents who previously had a driver’s license have not been able to renew their license due to legal status, and without an alternative driver card they have no path to drive legally and safely in Oregon.

“We’re pleased that brave plaintiffs have stood up to seek justice and equal rights under law and that lawyers agree that there is a legal objection to this issue. If rights guaranteed under our Constitution are being denied, that should be taken to a court of law for final resolution” said Andrea Miller, Executive Director of Causa.

M.S. et al. vs. Brown et al. is a civil rights case challenging the use of an Oregon ballot measure to take away rights granted by the Oregon Legislature based on disagreements over federal immigration policy. Measure 88 struck down the driver card statute in order to discourage immigrants from coming to or staying in Oregon. This state action put Oregon into a position of requiring the Oregon DMV to use legal status as screening criteria to prevent access to driving privileges.

“Lawyers say that the attempt to overturn the Safe Roads Act is not legal. We know it’s not right,” said Andrea Miller.



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