Immigrant Justice and Measure 88

by Sally Godard, Just Journey…a ministry of justice and advocacy, Yamhill County

saferoads 88In 2008, in an attempt to comply with the federal Real ID Act[1], the Oregon Legislature passed a law that has created a daily nightmare for many Oregon workers, their families, and their employers.

Although vigorously opposed by immigrant advocates, this Oregon law restricts driver’s licenses to those who can provide documents of their legal status in the state. No longer primarily a document to demonstrate one’s knowledge of the “rules of the road” and ability to pass the written and behind-the-wheel driver’s tests, the 2008 law now excluded immigrants without legal documents from obtaining or renewing a license.

The disastrous effect was immediate. Each year thousands of immigrants[2], many who had been here for a decade or more, were thrown into turmoil. Bread-winners who required transportation lost their jobs and employers lost experienced workers who could no longer buy insurance. Families lived in fear each day as they drove their kids to school, attended church, or kept a doctor’s appointment. If they were stopped by law enforcement and had no license, the risk of deportation was high. Yet especially in rural Oregon where there is very little public transportation, day-to-day life depended on being able to drive.

Advocates representing immigrants, agriculture and other industries, law enforcement, and faith communities doubled their efforts.  Finally in the spring of 2014, with a strong bipartisan vote in the Oregon legislature, Senate Bill 833 (Oregon Driver Card) was passed. Although it was a compromise bill that was not a return to a full Oregon driver’s license, supporters hoped that it would ease the problem for Oregon families and employers until Congress could make progress on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

The Oregon Driver Card was scheduled to be implemented in January 2014.  Unfortunately, the opposition obtained $100,000 from an out-of-state donor to hire people to collect enough signatures to require a statewide vote in the November election.

So now it is up to all of us. The campaign is launched. YES on Measure 88 will affirm the Oregon Driver Card law[3] so that all Oregonians can once again participate fully in their communities. People of faith will recognize this as an issue of justice as well as of safety as we live out our call to “welcome the stranger.”  Vote YES for compassion, hospitality, and respect toward our neighbors.

Note: It is not too early to begin discussing this issue in your church community. If you or members of your congregation would like a speaker, or someone to facilitate a discussion about Measure 88, please contact me. sallygodard@earthlink.net



[1] The Real ID Act of 2005 was part of the many laws passed in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent establishment of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002.

[2] It has been estimated that from 2008-2016, 86,000 Oregonians could be adversely affected by the inability to renew an expired license.

[3] http://voteyeson88.com/about/


 

 

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1 Comments

  1. Aleita Hass-Holcombe

    Reply

    Oregon can demonstrate more than just compassion by voting for Measure 88… it will demonstrate awareness of the unjust immigration quagmire into which we have fallen and our need to fix at least this facet.

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