November 14, 2007
THIS FRIDAY Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is planning to issue an executive order that would bar Oregon's undocumented immigrants from accessing a driver's license.
Under the Governor's proposed executive order, DMV would limit the documents accepted to get a driver's license, eliminating undocumented immigrants use to qualify such as the Matricula card or foreign birth certificates. Currently under Oregon law, all residents of Oregon -regardless of legal status- can obtain a driver's license, a 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 Governor Kulongoski'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.
TAKE ACTION NOW and tell Governor Kulongoski that all Oregon residents, regardless of immigration status, should have access driver's licenses for the sake of public safety.
Call Governor Kulongoski at 503-378-4582, fax him at 503.378.6827 and/or send him a message online at: http://www.governor.state.or.us/Gov/contact_us.shtml (sample message below)
We are calling on all immigrant rights supporters to flood the Governor's phone, fax, and email with messages.
Subject: Protect public safety--preserve driver's license access for all Oregon Residents
Dear Governor Kulongoski,
I urge you to suspend your action in passing an executive order that limits documents Oregon residents can use to obtain a driver's license. Denying licenses to immigrants puts public safety at risk and makes Oregon's roads unsafe.
The fact is driver's licenses protect lives. Unlicensed drivers can't get insurance and are less likely to stick around after an accident. With an average of 14 percent of all accidents caused by drivers without insurance, it is not difficult to see how uninsured motorists cause over $4.1 billion in insurance losses per year nationally.
Licensing drivers also helps to prevent accidents. In their report, Licensed to Kill, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are validly licensed drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Study also found that 20 percent of fatal accidents involve at least one driver who lacks a valid license. Licensed drivers take classes and pass tests. They are also registered, photographed, and insured.
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 will be 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.
Oregonians deserve safe communities and roads and licensed drivers with insurance are a means to that end. The State of Oregon needs to have a realistic system that respects the rights of our hard-working, tax-paying residents to have access to a document that is fundamental to day-to-day functioning within our society, while meeting the standard of knowledge and practice. I join Oregonians in urging you to support driver's license access for all residents of Oregon.