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http://www.rttnews.com:80/apps/deskalert/article.asp?date=11/19/2007&item=529

Oregon Lawmakers Challenge Governor On Licenses For Illegal Immigrants

RTT News 11/19/07

A proposal by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski to give illegal immigrants a special driver's permit is getting a chilly reception from fellow Democrats who control the state Legislature.

Under the governor's plan, the Department of Motor Vehicles would require proof of citizenship or legal residency to issue driver's licenses. Those who lack proper papers could get a driving-only card that would not be valid to board an airliner, among other limitations, a plan similar to the one withdrawn last week by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

State Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, told the Ashland Daily Tidings that the governor's proposal could draw more illegal immigrants to Oregon.

"I have a real problem licensing illegal immigrants," Bates said. "It would lead to one problem after another."

Instead of offering the so-called driver's cards, state lawmakers should work toward encouraging legal immigration to the Beaver State, he told the Southern Oregon newspaper.

"We need a lot more legals in the country," Bates said. "We need the labor; we need the good people."

House Majority Whip Peter Buckley, also an Ashland Democrat, said it's anti-immigrant sentiment that is fueling most of the opposition to the governor's plan.

"I have a lot of concern about the anti-immigrant fever that is gripping people right now," Buckley said. "It's hard for me to look at people who are desperately trying to feed their kids and have a better life, and condemn them."

The governor's plan could be blunted, however, by a proposed ballot initiative that would require proof of citizenship to drive and vote.

Brought forth by Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the proposal would also repeal a state law that prohibits law enforcement agencies from using money or personnel to find or apprehend illegal immigrants whose only crime is that they are in the U.S. illegally.

To get the initiative on the November 2008 ballot, supporters have until July 3 to gather about 83,000 valid signatures.
 

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