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Petitions seek vote on driver's licenses for immigrants without documents

 Posted: 4:55 PM October 11, 2013

State Rep. Sal Esquivel said he expects voters will get a chance to determine if a new law should allow immigrants who aren't in the country legally to have driver's licenses.

Esquivel, a member of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, co-sponsored a referendum for the November 2014 ballot that seeks to overturn a law authorizing driver-privilege cards for non-legal residents.

"I think the people of Oregon should weigh in on it because they will be driving around with those people," said Esquivel, R-Medford.

Critics of the new law, which was set to go into effect in January, submitted 71,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office this week, in hopes of putting the issue to a vote in November 2014.

The Secretary of State's Election Office will scrutinize the petitions submitted by the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform and the paid private firm Signature Gathering Company of Oregon.

The OFIR group was required to submit 58,142 valid signatures to qualify its referendum for the November 2014 ballot. Group members say voters should have the final say on whether the state issues driver's cards to people who do not have the usual required documentation, such as a birth certificate or passport.

If the petitioners succeed in getting on the November 2014 ballot, the law would not take effect in January.

Monitors from both OFIR and immigrants' rights groups such as CAUSA Oregon will be on hand to monitor the elections staff as they review the signatures.

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833, creating the driver's card option, into law in May.

— Damian Mann

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