Oregon lawmakers introduce bill to eliminate proof of legal residence requirement for driver’s licenses/IDs

by DCG

Oregon has automatic voter registration at the DMV. To ensure only US citizens vote, the Oregon Secretary of State web site states, “The Elections Division will only send OMV Cards to people who have provided documentation that they are U.S. citizens. Oregon voters are also required to attest to their qualifications –including citizenship — at the time they submit their ballot.”

As reported by Oregon LiveOregonians should not be required to prove they are U.S. citizens or legal residents to drive a car.

That’s the premise behind a bill filed in Salem this week by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. If passed opens the door for non-citizens to obtain legal Oregon driver’s licenses, learner’s permits or general identification cards. It wouldn’t apply to commercial driver’s licenses.

The Equal Access to Roads Act would amend state law to allow drivers to submit a statement saying they have “not been assigned a Social Security number” instead of producing documents proving U.S. citizenship or legal residency. Qualified applicants would still have to pass a driver’s test and show they live in Oregon. The bill would not apply to learner’s permits or commercial driver’s licenses.

The bill comes as Oregon in July 2020 will begin issuing driver’s licenses that comply with the 2005 REAL ID Act, which requires states to verify citizenship and add other security features for state licenses. Either a federally recognized form of identification like a passport or Real ID card will be required for any passenger to board domestic flights starting in October 2020.

Proponents say the bill is a logical move that will benefit all Oregonians who are either unwilling or unable to comply with those federal requirements, not just those undocumented workers who may rely on cars to get work, school or elsewhere around the state.

Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, one of HB 2015’s five chief-sponsors, said it makes sense to give all Oregonians an option other than paying more money for a Real ID starting next year. “Many people are impacted by these strict requirements,” Hernandez said, “including the elderly, domestic violence survivors and immigrants.”

He said that having access to driver’s licenses without producing additional paperwork eliminates a roadblock to getting an essential piece of identification.

If approved, the bill would be effective January 2021. Oregon would still have two licenses if the bill dies in Salem – a Real ID compliant one and a non-Real ID card. The bill removes the legal residency requirements for the non-Real ID license while adding additional civil protections so driver’s licenses holders can’t be discriminated against for not having a Real ID.

Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement in support of the bill. “As a mixed urban and rural state, many Oregonians depend on the ability to drive to support their families and go to school, the doctor, and the grocery store,” Brown said. “Increasing access to driver’s licenses means more Oregonians will safely access their jobs, education, and the services they rely on.“

The bill comes more than a decade after Oregon last issued eight-year driver’s licenses to residents without requiring they produce documentation proving they are citizens or legal residents.

Read the whole story here.

DCG