Illegal Immigrants Sue Oregon Over a Measure That Denies Them Driver's Licenses

Last year, a measure was approved in Oregon that denies driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

In fact, Measure 88 was approved by a strong two-thirds majority. Yet, that didn't prevent five illegal immigrants from suing the state of Oregon. Thirty-five of Oregon’s 36 counties voted against licenses for undocumented residents, as did every congressional district in the state, most of which are represented by Democrats.

The lawsuit alleges Measure 88 is unconstitutional because it "arbitrarily" denies driving privileges based on membership in a "disfavored minority group." It also alleges that Oregon voters were motivated by "animus toward persons from Mexico and Central America."

Gustavo Recarde, who has worked construction and odd jobs in Portland and several states since sneaking into the United States in 1988, said, "If an illegal [can] get a driver's license, it would be better because there's more opportunities to find a job as a driver." Although he is not part of the lawsuit, he said he believes race played a role in the vote.

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said it's not the responsibility of Oregonians to make illegal immigrants comfortable or able to drive to jobs they don't legally have.

Kendoll stated, "They came here by choice, they weren't brought here against their will, and with those choices come hardships." Measure 88 was a reaction to a law passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2013 and signed by then-Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, that would have given "driver's cards" to those who cannot prove they are in the U.S. legally. Kendoll went on to say "People were not swayed by their arguments that they deserve to have a driver's card so they could more easily get to their jobs. They're not supposed to be working here."

Kendoll also said that voters were motivated by national security and drug-smuggling by Mexican cartels, not race. If they haven't gone through immigration checks, it's easier to transport narcotics up and down the West Coast. Norman Williams, associate dean for academic affairs at the Willamette University College of Law in Salem, said, "Federal judges are very hesitant to strike down state statutes on constitutional grounds."

Photo: Capital Press

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