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Oregon Will Make Undocumented People Eligible for Drivers’ Licenses Again

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Oregon lawmakers have voted to grant the state’s undocumented residents drivers’ licenses, amid a nationwide push to do so in response to data indicating that minor traffic violations are landing immigrants in deportation proceedings.

State senators voted 17–10 on Saturday to pass a bill granting licenses to all Oregon residents, regardless of citizenship status, which “eliminates [the] requirement that [a] person provide proof of legal presence before Department of Transportation issues [a] noncommercial driver license, noncommercial driver permit or identification card.” The bill overrides a 2007 executive order issued by former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski stopping the state from granting licenses to undocumented people and stripping the licenses of 80,000 undocumented Oregon residents, according to advocates.

Governor Kate Brown’s signature on the bill will make Oregon the latest in a recent spate of states to have enacted such legislation. Altogether, 13 states—including California, Colorado, and Connecticut—and the District of Columbia allow non-citizens to obtain drivers’ licenses. New York was the latest state to legalize driving for undocumented immigrants last month.

“The ability to drive legally is a core everyday need for many Oregon families,” says Ricardo Lujan-Valerio, policy associate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. “Oregonians shouldn’t have to live in fear of being deported or worry about their families being torn apart simply because they are taking their kids to school, going to work, or taking care of their family or neighbors.”

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