Measure 88 is a battle of idealism vs. realism.
The measure would allow the DMV to issue driver cards to Oregon residents who pass the written and behind-the-wheel driver knowledge test, provide proof of residence in Oregon, and provide proof of identity and date of birth.
This means that, if passed, those who cant prove their legal presence in this country could still drive legally in Oregon.
Ideally, everyone who comes to this country would be documented and could obtain a drivers license. In an ideal world, if you abide by the law and follow the rules, then you get rewarded.
But realistically, its hard to see why this is a bad idea, when it could help so many people, and it stands to benefit the community much more than it would be likely to harm anyone.
We support this measure because it provides a basic need for people who are already living here. Fact is, the inability to acquire a drivers license is a major hindrance to anyone who desires to be a contributing member of society, documented or not. This limits their ability to not only find work, but also do everything from taking their children to school to simply visiting a grocery store.
Whats more, those who are legal residents are also positively affected because those with the proposed driver card will be tested on our states laws and can purchase car insurance.
While these cards will permit people to legally drive a car, thats the limit. These cards do not change ones immigration status, nor can they prove ones identity to obtain government benefits or board a plane.
Ultimately, immigration reform is a federal issue. However broken our legislators may think the immigration system is, they are constitutionally precluded from doing much about it.
What they can do, however, is deal with the problem of residents across the state driving without licenses or insurance, because they have no legal way of acquiring them.
Some have derided Measure 88 as a Band-Aid measure. It basically is. Again, in an ideal world, Congress would be making real progress with immigration reform rather than leaving the states to deal with the consequences of a defective system.
Until that happens, the best we can hope for is that our legislators and voters will look at our state and its problems as they are, rather than as they might wish them to be.