Voters to decide whether illegal immigrants can get a license

Voters to decide whether illegal immigrants can get a license »Play Video
This is an example of what the proposed short-term licenses for people who can't prove they are legal residents of the United States could look like. The words "short term" would be printed in the lower right-hand corner.

EUGENE, Ore. - Voters will decide in November whether to implement a bill passed by Oregon lawmakers to give undocumented immigrants a pathway to an Oregon drivers license.

The law would have taken effect January 1 of this year.

But foes gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

Proponents said this isn't about citizenship - it's about safe driving.

"Not to act as ID but to demonstrate that the person with the card knows Oregon laws and passed a drivers test - and they know how to drive," explained state Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield.

The law would allow thousands of immigrants living in Oregon without legal permission to get a 4-year drivers licence.

Beyer said the current law wasn't working and failed to ensure drivers carried insurance. 

"It was creating large problems at DMV in terms of people coming in and having to prove all that stuff," Beyer said.

Opponents question giving any legal status, even a license to drive, to someone who is in the United States illegally.

"We think citizens understand that it's not right to reward illegal behavior," said Cynthia Kendoll with Oregonians for Immigration Reform. "The requirements to receive this state issued ID are so lax."

On the insurance question, Kendoll points out that there's no legal requirement in the law to require undocumented immigrants to get proper insurance.

"We're very confident that we will win," she said. "We think that citizens understand that it's not right to reward illegal behavior."