Oregon voters resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have granted driver cards to illegal immigrants.
Measure 88 was trailing by a more than 2-to-1 ratio late Tuesday, with 68 percent of voters against it and 32 percent in favor.
The measure would have given the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division authority to issue driver cards for Oregon residents who couldn’t prove their legal status in the United States, but could prove their identity and date of birth and show at least one year of residency in Oregon.
Opponents of the measure worried the driver cards would encourage and reward illegal immigration into the United States. They said the wide margin of victory showed Oregonians shared their concerns.
“The things people were saying to us from all parties in all corners of the state were very positive,” said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed Measure 88. “All the polls kept indicating we had about a 30-percent spread, but I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself.”
The measure’s supporters argued thousands of immigrants are already driving on Oregon roads, and giving them a driver card would make it easier and cheaper for them to obtain automobile insurance. They called the defeat disappointing, but said the campaign for Measure 88 laid the groundwork for more immigrants’ rights issues in future elections.
“This is obviously a very important issue for many families across Oregon,” said Juan-Carlos Valle, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Lane County. “We will continue to do exactly what we did during the campaign, which was to talk to Oregonians about importance of having a driving card for families who work, take their children to school and go to church.”
Measure 88 grew out of an attempt by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature last year to pass a law granting the driver cards. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill into law in May, but Oregonians for Immigration Reform gathered enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot through Oregon’s referendum process.